Pieces from The Mighty

Monday, May 21, 2012

What I Didn't Expect When I Was Expecting

Before I got pregnant with Robby one of my best friends, Caitlin, told me that the movie What to Expect When You’re Expecting would be coming out soon and that we needed to go. Then, when I was actually pregnant with Robby I saw a commercial for the movie and thought it looked funny and I just knew that I would be going. 

A few weeks ago I saw the commercial again and this time I did not find it funny at all. The commercial I saw started out with a woman complaining about how it “sucks to be pregnant.” It is amazing how something can go from looking so funny to so upsetting within just a couple of months. 

I decided I needed to go ahead and see the movie. Since Caitlin and I had planned on going to see it together before everything happened with Robby, we decided that we would still go see it together. I figured worst case; I could make it into a blog!

So, if you do not want to read about what happens in the movie I would suggest you stop reading and read it after you see the movie.

***Spoilers below***

We chose to sit at the back of the theater, so that if I needed to I would be able to get up and leave without disturbing anyone.  The movie follows five couples in their journey to parenthood.

Couple #1-  A single woman over 35 who got pregnant unexpectedly, but her and the dad do end up together in the end. She was told she was having a boy, and then the baby came out as a girl. That is why I had them check to make sure Robby was a boy several times!

Couple #2- A couple who has been trying to get pregnant for two years and finally became successful after they decided to “take a break” from trying. She had always wanted to be pregnant, but when she was pregnant decided that “being pregnant sucks.”

Couple #3-  The father of the husband of couple #2. A younger woman with an older man got pregnant with twins without trying, and then rubbed it in couple #2’s faces.

Couple #4-  A couple who was unable to get pregnant even after four rounds of IVF, and have decided to adopt a child.

Couple #5- The youngest couple has an “oops” pregnancy and she miscarries the baby. We aren’t sure how far along she is when she miscarries but we know it was sometime after the first sonogram and before she felt her baby kick. 

I thought the movie was good at giving diversity as far as the couples who were expecting. There were several different problems that were talked about during this movie such as infertility, adoption, envying someone who is pregnant, miscarriage, and many others.   I knew going into the movie that they were going to portray a young woman who miscarries her baby.  I am glad that a friend had forewarned me about this because although I had a late loss, and I did not miscarry, it is still a loss and I was able to try to mentally prepare myself for this storyline.

I am glad they put the miscarriage in the movie because one in four women loses a baby, and it is something that we just don’t talk about in our society. I wasn’t thrilled about how they portrayed the miscarriage; they did not put very much emphasis on what happened or how she dealt with it in the months following. It also bothered me when she said near the end of the movie “I can try again when the time is right.” The couple didn’t ever talk about what happened, they just blew past it.  I know that they did not want this story line to bring the movie down. After all, this movie is a comedy, and there isn’t anything funny about a miscarriage. 

Since they weren’t a couple, something that wasn’t a concern for them was when they would be able to have a child after their loss. When we lost Robby there were a lot of emotions that came along with trying to decide when we could start trying again or when we wanted to start trying for another baby.  I think that since the couple in the movie wasn't really together or even dating that there wasn’t much dialogue between them period.  The only thing we got was “I wished it to happen, it is my fault.” After that there wasn’t much discussion about what happened. I guess in my opinion that just reinforced that most people don't want to hear about a loss and that we really aren’t supposed to talk about our loss. But, then again this was just a movie, and I was watching it with a very critical and emotional eye.

My favorite line about the miscarriage was when the guy who got her pregnant said that he missed her and she said “I miss me too.”  I can totally relate to that comment. I still don’t feel like the same person that I was before we lost Robby, and I have a feeling that I won’t ever be that same person again. So, even though I didn’t care for the way they handled the miscarriage, it is a movie, and since I have very recently lived through a loss I know that I can be overly critical about it. 

I was disappointed that the one woman who complained the most was the woman who had been actively trying to get pregnant for two years. I know several women who have been trying for a very long time to conceive and are now pregnant and I know that not one of them would ever dream of saying that “being pregnant sucks.” That line was meant to be funny, but it really stung me. Being pregnant is wonderful! Yes, the symptoms might suck, but pregnancy does not suck.  In the end this woman did realize that it was all worth it for her little boy. It took until her baby was in her arms, but she did finally figure it out.

The hardest part of the movie for me to watch wasn’t the miscarriage, but the labor. They portrayed the labor of each of the women as a funny thing, since the movie is a comedy, but when I saw those women having contractions it just took me right back to the day I gave birth to Robby. The things during labor that are supposed to be so wonderful; such as hearing that he is almost out, weren’t wonderful for me. Hearing the words “I see his legs” meant that my baby was going to die soon, not that his life with us was just beginning.  Seeing the actual babies on the big screen was difficult for me too. They are all so cute and I just wish I had a sweet baby to hold in my arms instead of just in my heart. This by far was the most emotional part of the movie for me.

There were a few funny parts in the movie. The woman who had been trying for two years was really funny to me (before she got all whiny about being pregnant). She had an app on her phone and at one point it went off and said “you are ovulating!” Caitlin and I laughed at this part because it sounds like me! Then, even though her husband needed to leave for work right then she told him that he needed to wait just a few minutes because it was time! When she did get pregnant she ran to find him with about six pregnancy tests that she had taken! Yes, once again we laughed out loud because that is very much like me. I go through ALOT of sticks....pregnancy test sticks and ovulation test sticks.

All in all, the movie was okay. I doubt I will ever watch it again. There were some funny parts, but not enough to outweigh the heartache for me. I see things in such a different light now. Maybe someday it will be different, but for now I think I will be staying away from pregnancy related movies.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Am I A Mother?

Important dates and holidays are hard. 
Each week on Friday I think about "bump day" which (when I was pregnant) was my weekly anniversary day-  the day each week when I added one more week to my weeks pregnant number and took a new baby bump picture to post on Robby’s blog. 
Each week on Friday I think about the day I lost Robby. 
Each month on the 24th I think about the day I gave birth to my son. 
I dread June 22nd which is the day Robby was supposed to make his appearance into this world.  
I am dreading my birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas and most of all I am dreading Mother’s Day, as the "first" of each holiday seems to be the hardest.

How am I supposed to celebrate Mother’s Day?  

Am I considered a mother? 

These are questions that I am wrestling with as Mother's Day approaches.

I was recently looking at cards at Target, and I looked around at the Mother’s Day cards. They have Mother's Day cards for mothers, grandmothers, godmothers, aunts, daughters, new moms, mothers-to be, mothers- in law, sisters-in law, friends, and neighbors. They have five cards to mom from the dog, and two cards to mom from the cat but they do not have even one single Mother's Day card for the mothers who have lost their baby.  So, I went to Hallmark and again I found tons of cards (seven of which were from the dog and three from the cat) but I only found one card, just one single card for a mother who has lost a child. 

Is that because people in my category are not really considered to be a mother? Was that title stripped from me when my dear son was placed in the ground?

Why is it that we can have seven cards from the dog, but only one card for someone who has lost a child? One in four women loses a child from conception to age one. That is a lot of women who are being overlooked on Mother’s Day. Why are we being over looked?  I believe that it is because people for the most part do not consider people like me a mom.  

Honestly, this is the first time I have ever noticed that there is only one Mother’s Day card in Hallmark for a mother who has lost her baby. I think that most of us live in happy la-la land until something horrible happens to either us, or someone close to us. More people need to be aware that there are so many women who have lost a child. There are couples that grieve every day for the loss of their baby, toddler, or child. There are women , like me, that feel deep in their hearts that they are a mother even though they no longer have the living baby or child to prove it. People tend to keep quiet about tragedies like the loss of a child because talking about it makes people uncomfortable.

I was part of an online group that made a branch on facebook and the group was called June Bugs. We all had something in common-each one of us was to have a baby to be born in June 2012. We talked about everything under the sun that had to do with pregnancy and babies- we truly became online friends. This group of women were absolutely amazing to me after the loss of Robby. They all chipped in and had two coolers full of food shipped to us from Omaha Steaks. What a blessing my online friends were!

 I was pretty active in this group until Robby was born. At this point I didn't really feel like I had anything to add, but I continued to lurk so that I would know how each of their pregnancies were going and that everyone was okay. A couple weeks after Robby was born another woman in the group had her baby, and although her baby was also very premature, thankfully he lived. The comments on the facebook group then went something like this, 

“Congrats to our first June mommy!” 

That was the moment when I realized that I am not considered a mom by some. Since my baby died, some of the women in that group did not consider me to be a mommy. I am aware that this is not how everyone in the group felt, and that sometimes words come out wrong. However, I was crushed when I read that because I believed that I was the first June mom. Me. I had my baby first! I went into labor, I delivered Robby, and Tanner and I held him in our arms until he died.  Didn't that make me the first June mommy? I know that these women did not mean it in a mean or hurtful way, but it still did sting.

I then went to our June Bugs blog where I realized that there were actually about three women who had babies before I did. However, they were not considered mothers either.  So now there were 4 of us. Four June Bugs without babies to hold. Four June Bugs without the title of Mommy . Four June Bugs who each had a baby yet was somehow overlooked as a mommy. 

Maybe people think that since my baby is not with me, how can I be a mother? I am not up in the night with my baby, or changing his diaper. I am not teaching him to read or helping him learn important life lessons. I am not rocking him and singing to him when he is sick.  So, why should I expect to be recognized on Mother's Day? 

All of the mothering that I will ever get to give Robby was compacted into a 23 week period. All of the holding, hugging and kissing that I will ever get to give Robby was condensed into the 2 hours that he was alive. I do not get to mother my son anymore, so how can I be considered a mother?  

After a lot of thought I realized that yes, I am a mother. I cared for Robby for the 23 weeks he was with us, and I held him for the two hours that I was able. I loved him, cared for him, and did what was best for him, and isn’t that what a mother does? I did everything I could to help him survive, and even though he is not here with me, I know that he is looking down on us. I know that he has given me a Mother's Day gift- it is one of love. Because of Robby I learned to love in a way I didn't know was possible. I have the love of a mother. Robby gave me another important gift- he gave me the gift of health. Thanks to Robby I am still pain free and in remission from the Fibromyalgia.  

I know that I did everything that I could for my baby because I am his mother. Robby is my son, and I am his mom. Therefore I will celebrate Mother's Day knowing in my heart that I am a mom. I am a mom to an angel. I might not be a mom to a baby in my arms, but I still am a mother. I might not be celebrating in the way that most women do, or the way that I expected to, but I will celebrate the fact that Robby was here and he is and will always be my son. I will spend Mother’s Day focusing on all the joy that our sweet Robby brought to us.  

He might not be here with my physically, but I know that he is with me. Robby won’t ever make me a Mother’s Day card, plan a special meal for me, or get me a special bouquet of Mother's Day flowers, but I know in my heart that if my baby boy were here that he (with the help of his daddy) would make me an absolutely perfect and special homemade card and give me a sweet little boy hug.

I might not ever get those things from my sweet little boy, but that is not what makes a mother. To me, what makes a mother is the love in my heart that I have now and will always have for my sweet baby boy.

I thought of you and closed my eyes, 
And prayed to God today. 
I asked what makes a Mother, 
And I know I heard him say: 

A mother has a baby, 
This we know is true. 
But, God, can you be a mother, 
When your baby's not with you? 

Yes, you can he replied, 
With confidence in his voice. 
I give many women babies, 
When they leave is not their choice. 
Some I send for a lifetime, 
And others for a day. 
And some I send to feel your womb, 
But there’s no need to stay. 

I just don't understand this God, 
I want my baby here. 
He took a breath and cleared his throat, 
And then I saw a tear. 

I wish that I could show you, 
What your child is doing today, 
If you could see your child smile, 
With other children who say: 
We go to earth and learn our lessons, 
Of love and life and fear. 
My mommy loved me oh so much; 
I got to come straight here. 

I feel so lucky to have a mom, 
Who had so much love for me. 
I learned my lessons very quickly, 
My mommy set me free. 

I miss my mommy oh so much, 
But I visit her each day. 
When she goes to sleep, 
On her pillow's where I lay. 
I stroke her hair and kiss her cheek, 
And whisper in her ear. 
"Mommy don't be sad today, I'm your baby and I'm here." 

So you see my dear sweet one, 
Your children are Ok. 
Your babies are here in My home, 
They'll be at heaven’s gate for you. 

So now you see what makes a mother. 
It's the feeling in your heart. 
It's the love you had so much of, 
Right from the very start. 

Though some on earth may not realize you are a mother, 
until their time is done. 
They'll be up here with Me one day, 
And you'll know that you're the best one! 
~Author Unknown

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Control Freak

And so it begins. 

What begins-you might ask? The madness known as trying to get pregnant, except this time is so much different than last time. It is worse this time around because now I am not just trying to get pregnant, I am trying to get pregnant after a loss.

Whenever I do anything I put absolutely everything into it and trying to get pregnant isn’t any different for me. 

Before we got pregnant with Robby I decided to do some research and join an online forum. I read the trying to get pregnant handbook, Taking Charge of Your Fertility, and researched all the small things I could do to increase our chances, and then slowly worked them in.  Well, this time instead of easing into the trying to conceive mania I cannon balled right into the madness pool full speed ahead.

After we were given the "go ahead" from Dr. O’Hara, I started eating healthier, drinking 100 ounces of water a day, eight ounces of Pom (pomegranate) juice a day leading up to ovulation, two cups of green tea a day leading up to ovulation, ovulation predictor tests every day, and taking my basil body temperature each morning at the exact same time and then charting it on fertilityfriend.com. I also went ahead and cut out artificial sweetener and caffeine.  Tanner went off of Mountain Dew and stopped taking trips to the Humidor to smoke cigars with my brother and his buddies. He is also supposed to be taking a multivitamin, but he insists that he needs Flintstones vitamins instead of the ones I already purchased for him.  

Currently I am counting down the days before I am able to take a pregnancy test to see if we were successful. I have researched how early I can test and even which pregnancy test will detect the smallest amount of HCG.The waiting is agonizing. 

Since I am charting with FertilityFriend.com I have a chart that shows what is going on with my body. It is amazing the things you can tell from your basil body temperature. Now that I have ovulated I am driving myself crazy looking at my chart.  It is like I expect it to all of a sudden say:"Congratulations! You are pregnant!"  However I know that it will not until I actually input the positive pregnancy test which may or may not turn out to be this month.

I also look for the “pregnancy signs” such as moodiness, tiredness, bloat, and cramping. The funny thing is that each and every one of these pregnancy signs is also a sign of an approaching menstrual cycle. Okay not so funny, but it sure is enough to drive a girl insane.

“Oh, I want a candy bar- I am craving a candy bar. I am sooo pregnant!”

“Oh man I am bloated today, I am totally pregnant!”

“Wow I sure am moody today, I MUST be pregnant!”

Yep, those are the thoughts that go through my head on a daily basis. And those closest to me are also thinking and saying similar things. Since I made it clear to everyone that I am not to hear the question “Are you pregnant yet” I have gotten some pretty creative questions such as…

“So have you stopped drinking caffeine yet?” ~ Emily

“Amanda, is that a maternity shirt you are wearing today?”~ Brittany

“Amanda, are you craving popcorn?” (There was a huge container of cheese popcorn on my desk that Tanner brought home)~ Brittany

“I am not asking it, but just so you know- I am thinking it!” ~ Sally

Mom- “Amanda, you should go in there and get a piece of that cake.”
Sally- “Is there a reason you are making her eat? Is she...you know?"

Other than the fact that I want to get pregnant, I am putting so much effort, thought, and obsession into trying to get pregnant because as long as I am focused on trying to get pregnant, I am not focusing on how difficult it is going to be on me to actually be pregnant again. 

When I really sit around and think about it I am actually really scared to be pregnant again. 

I am scared that Tanner and I will lose another baby. 

I am scared that my body will betray me again.

Pregnancy is going to be incredibly difficult for me. I joke with Tanner that we will be at the emergency room all of the time. Anytime I feel the slightest twinge I am going to want to know that everything is okay.   Even though I am scared to get pregnant again, I know that this is what Tanner and I want. This is what Tanner and I need. We need to try again, because if we don’t try, how are we ever going to get what we want?  A baby to bring home. 

I like to feel like I am in control. While I am doing everything under the sun possible to increase our chances of conceiving sooner rather than later I feel as if I do have the slightest bit of control. Now, I realize that I don’t, God is in control. However, once I am pregnant, then there will be nothing left that I can do. I will no longer have this "pretend control". Even if I lie in the bed and do not move at all for my entire pregnancy there is still a chance that my body will go into pre-term labor again. The day I went into labor, I had not had but just the slightest activity which was typical during my pregnancy. Shower, school work, slight housekeeping....nothing to break a sweat. I was not that active. My body went into labor for no reason what-so-ever, so there will not be anything to keep that from happening again, and there is not a single thing I can do, other than pray. 

I am going to have to give up my need for control and turn it over to God, and that will be difficult for me. 

So, now I wait and pray.

I pray that not only that I get pregnant, and that not only I have a healthy baby, (because Robby was healthy) but I will also pray that I am able to have a full term baby.

I will pray for the strength to give complete control over to God during this time, and that God will give us a healthy baby that we get to take home.

 Phil 4:6: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.