36 Minutes

Getting older always has a certain nostalgia that comes with it. Birthdays come and birthdays go. They seem to sneak up quicker and quicker year after year. I think to myself, “It’s April already?” Every. Single. Year. It’s as though after a couple of decades on this Earth I still don’t have a concept of time. Time seems so relative. The days drag on, but the weeks fly by, and all of a sudden, I’m another year older, hopefully a little more wiser, but definitely a lot more sarcastic. I always try to think back on the year that I’ve had and reflect on that.

But this year was hard to that.

Last year, I ran 35 miles for my 35th birthday. When we had found out I was pregnant Dec 2020, I wanted to announce it after a long run because, how typical of me right? I had it all planned out in my head. I had a route with a shape as a clue. I had plans of what to wear, which was “something with baby feet on my shirt, or a ‘running for two’ saying.” I wanted to try and be cool like Taylor Swift and drop some secret Easter egg hints for the few days leading up to my race. I knew I would have been visibly showing at that point, but with COVID, I wasn’t really seeing much of anyone anyway, so keeping the pregnancy as a surprise would have been easy.

And then I miscarried.

That birthday run was the most mentally challenging run I have ever done. Yes, it would have been mentally challenging either way, as 35 miles is no small feat, but I was also carrying that heaviness with me that I was no longer pregnant. That heaviness almost caused me to give up multiple times. It’s hard to describe, you know? That pain that you feel in your body because you know something is missing. Someone is missing. It’s just lost. Forever. Knowing you can never get that back is a grief that is unfair. And it never goes away. It just becomes a new normal. The grief will always come in waves. Healing isn’t linear. I thought I was doing okay the first half of my run. But the closer and closer I had got to the end of that 35 miles, the harder it was to hold it together.

The first thing I said after finishing that run was, “I’m not running 36 miles next year. 3.6 miles sounds like a better plan.”

Well, on April 4th, 2022, my 36th birthday, I did not run that 3.6 miles. I did however have time to sit with my feelings and emotions. I’ve looked back at just how much has changed since April 4th, 2021. I quit drinking (323 days ago), I changed my last name, Ian sold his house, we adopted Lampo, we went through fertility testing, we found out Ian’s next job is in Virginia, we had an IUI done, and we found out it was successful… and that only brings us to New Years.

The amount of roller-coaster loops and highs and lows that we’ve been through just really feels like a bit of whiplash. I’ve had people ask me, “How’s it going?” or “how is pregnancy?” Or just wanting some updates. They’ve been hard to answer. How do you say, “Well this birthday I should have a baby in my arms” without sounding like you’re not grateful to be pregnant? How do you say, “I hate being pregnant” when you’ve wanted nothing more than to grow your family, and you’re so excited to have a baby, but the being pregnant part is awful? How do you respond to people who say, “Enjoy this birthday before baby comes” or “This is your last birthday before you become a mother” without responding with something rude or sarcastic about how you are a mother, even though your child isn’t earth side.

It’s hard. It’s so hard. Because the last thing I want is for people to ever tiptoe around me. I never want that. I hear a lot, “I don’t want to say the wrong thing.” But the truth is, neither do I. I don’t want to say the wrong thing. I don’t want every response to “how are you” to be something negative. “i’m sick of being pregnant,” “I’m nauseous again. I thought the second trimester was supposed to be better?” “I’m pretty tired of all these headaches.” “I hate that I can’t run. In fact, I feel a little depressed about it.” “I’m just trying to make it to the next appointment when I can see baby again to know they are okay.”

It’s a constant struggle for me, too. Where is that line of just being fully raw and transparent and honest that if stepped over becomes someone who is a whiner and complainer and a pessimist? When does someone’s bravery turn into “she just wants attention?”

Sorting out these feelings and emotions can be consuming. I’m in a pregnancy after loss group. And what I’ve learned is that I’m not alone. The anxiety of a pregnancy after loss is just… it’s just out of this world. It’s hard to fully encapsulate everything that you’re feeling. It’s even hard to sort out on paper. One minute I’m terrified to go to the bathroom because I have slight pressure, and the next I’m ready to look up bassinets. One minute I can’t stop crying because I’m not at viability week yet and I’m just waiting for something to go wrong, and the next I’m thinking if our child will have my eyes or Ian’s.

The one thing I’ve learned in my group is that most of us have not enjoyed our pregnancies very much. “You’ll feel better in the second trimester” just feels like a joke. I’m 18 weeks and feeling worse than my first trimester. But I’m learning that it’s okay to not enjoy being pregnant. Our bodies are literally growing another human. It’s not supposed to be easy. Our organs are rearranging themselves to make more room for the baby. The round ligament and back pain is horrendous. (Thank you child for your head being at my back.) while I know growing a baby means putting on some weight, that doesn’t make it easier. Gaining weight is hard, even when it’s supposed to happen. I have a visible bump now, so I no longer fit comfortably in my jeans or leggings that aren’t high-waisted. My skin is dry and itchy. I’m getting headaches what feels like every other day. i feel guilty because I don’t have the energy to give Lampo the attention and time that he deserves. I’m more tired than I ever have been. My emotions are ALL over the place. And I’m just absolutely sick of being nauseous. Every. Single. Day. I’ve already joked with Ian and said, “if we had a buttload of money, our second child would be through a surrogate. I’m not incubating the second one.”

Pregnancy is hard. I’ve felt so guilty for hating being pregnant. But the group I’m in is really good at reminding each other that you don’t have to enjoy being pregnant to be an amazing parents. I have to remind myself of this often.

So for my birthday this year, I decided that I’d be open and honest about how I was feeling, even if it’s just another negative update, because really, my goal with sharing isn’t for pity. I don’t want it. I just want one more person to feel less alone if they are in the worst girl gang ever with infertility and/or pregnancy after loss. And also, to finally start back with my at home workouts. I KNOW the benefits squats and lunges and such have. I’ve had my doctor’s okay since week 9.

April 4th, 2022 I spent doing 36 minutes of a workout and stretching for my 36th birthday.

And I was happy with that.

Workout: It’s pregnancy friendly, but anyone can do this, especially if you are looking for a low-impact, no jumping leg workout.

LEG DAY | 30-Minute Lower Body Workout For Women (Pregnancy Workout)

(and this should go without saying, but because there are trolls on the internet, please make sure to get your doctor’s okay if you’re pregnant. Everyone is different. And also, if you feel like telling a pregnant person they shouldn’t be working out, and you’re not their friend or doctor, just kindly keep it to yourself, thankyouverymuch. )

Rainbow After The Storm

1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage.

1 in 8 couples are dealing with infertility.

1 in 3 people experience PTSD after miscarriage/loss.

40-50% suffer from depression and anxiety.

Getting pregnant after loss doesn’t heal you.

Getting pregnant doesn’t replace the baby you lost.

I’ve had so many people reach out to me over the last year and a half. Some some experienced miscarriage 30 years ago, some had a pregnancy after loss and traumatic birth experience also 30 years ago. It’s not something you ever forget. It’s not something you ever get over. I’ve also spoken to numerous people who are currently TTC and dealing with infertility. It’s not talked about enough how much of an emotional roller coaster it is. Going through infertility and fertility treatments is hard. Feeling like you’re in limbo is hard. I will always be here if anyone needs to talk. Getting pregnant doesn’t make any of those feelings go away.

Pregnancy announcements are difficult for those in the TTC community. Please give yourself some grace if you need to take time to process or give yourself space. I love you, and will understand.

But here’s a summary of our fertility journey since October. It’s hard to summarize what we’ve been through since the miscarriage, and then 15 months of an emotion of roller coaster of constant disappointment every month, and then two months of poking and prodding at the fertility center before we had a medicated cycle .

It’s 4 minutes. You’re warned. I always said I would try and post the good, the bad and the ugly.

Thank you so much to our family and friends who have been the most amazing support system I could ever ask for.

#RainbowBaby

We went through the Fertility Center of Illinois, and had Dr Allison Rodgers.

Searching For The Rainbow

I miss her. The girl I used to be last October. The person I was before the sadness would consume most of my days, leaving me to over analyze everything. 

We're still the same person. 
Just.
Different.

She's me. I am her. But along the way, our lives disconnected and plucked out the simpleness and innocence with complexity and experience.  We're layered together, but the bright colors that once sparkled around us slowly faded into black and white. 

She had a lightness about her, and she didn't even realize it. She could dance around in the golden moonlight in her bare feet, blackened from walking down the street without shoes, with a strong drink in one hand and her cell phone in the other. Capturing every smile and every wink she'd send to her future husband. She'd listen to the waves collide against the rocks. 

She could run through the summer rain and feel its warmness bounce off her skin, flushed from the two glasses of her favorite red wine. Gravity wasn't pulling her down quite as hard then. She would twirl around in the kitchen in her red dress listening to the crackle of dinner cooking on the stove and her favorite songs playing in the background, and she didn't think twice about tomorrow.

She could look to the future a lot more hopeful than she does now.  I don't want to tell her that it's hard to imagine anymore. I don't want to tell her that she ended up slipping on the rocks and fell straight into heartache and can't find her way out. That it's sometimes hard to breathe. Her friends and family have never left her, and have been her support system, yet she feels isolated. She feels trapped.  

I don't want her to know just how jaded she's going to feel. Putting her whole heart and soul on the line for just a maybe. How tired she's going to feel. How exhausted she is from faking the smiles. But I need her to know: we're finding a strength we didn't know we had. And I really think we're going to get there. 

One day. 
Somehow. 
We'll get there. 
 
On December 21st, I miscarried at 7 weeks. I feel like a little piece of me left that day. I still logged into work. It was our anniversary. It was the week of Christmas. I didn't know what else to do.  What I do know is that grief isn't linear. It hits you when you least expect it. One day you're fine, and the next you're in bed crying knowing the exact age your baby should be. For as long as I can remember, I have always advocated for awareness around not asking women "when is it your turn?" or "When are you guys going to have a baby." I was always the first to tell people how inappropriate and invasive that question is. I just never would have thought I'd be advocating for myself.  

Michelle Obama said it best: "When we share our stories, we are reminded of the humanity within each other. And when we take the time to understand each other's stories, we become more forgiving, more empathetic, and more inclusive."  I can't pretend like I have it all together. I don't. Most days it's hard to get out of bed. The hard truth is that I stopped drinking because I fell into a very dark place of trying to hide behind the drunkenness to not feel anything. I didn't want to. The pain was too much. I didn't want to face the reality that something I had zero control over happened to me. And there was absolutely nothing I could do to stop it. It changed my life.  Just as two pink lines change your life, having the two pink lines fade into one will forever change your life, too. And then month after month after month you hope to see two, yet you only get one. The rug gets ripped out from under you time and time again, but you keep getting back onto the emotional roller coaster. Holding onto that "what if this month is our month" feeling. 

I've built more relationships with people by being open about my struggles than I ever could have pretending like I had it all together. I don't share our story for sympathy. I share because someone is out there struggling. They might feel alone. I need them to know they are not not. I had a very hard time opening up about this, but it's just too much to handle sometimes. 

There's so much more I want to say on this topic, but for now I will just leave you with this: Be kind. Stop asking people what their "next step" is in their lives and start just asking people, "hey how are YOU." Right now. In this current phase of your life. And take the time to listen. Without judgement. Without unsolicited advice. Without trying to one-up them with a statement starting with "well, at least..." 

Just listen. 

-Megan