Time to Say Goodbye

When I saw my husband’s face on my phone, I knew immediately why he was calling.  And my heart sank.  I steeled myself to answer and hear the news, then I heard my husband’s voice, informing me of what we had known was pending and inevitable.  Knowing it’s coming doesn’t make it any easier.

He was diagnosed almost a year earlier, and he went through many rounds of treatment before he eventually became disoriented and confused.  After a brief visit to the hospital and a relocation to my brother-in-law’s house to have more constant monitoring, the decision was made to stop the rounds of treatment.  They weren’t helping anyway.  At that point, everyone just hoped for the best.

He had his good days and bad.  On the good days, he would sleep through the night, walk around the house trailing his oxygen hose, interact with visitors, watch the Orioles’ games.  On the bad days, he would think the ceiling fan was leaking water onto his bed and start talking about people who died years earlier as if he had just seen them yesterday.  For a while, there were many more good days than bad.  Until last week.

My husband took the boys to go visit him before leaving for a weekend long baseball tournament over an hour away from home.  We would be staying the entire weekend, so this would be the last time they would see him until the next week.  He was having a very bad day.  Confused, delusional, scared.  It was the worst he had been in a while, and it was quite the sudden turn.  We got word on Saturday morning that an ambulance took him to a hospice home very early that morning.  We contemplated returning home, but were told it wasn’t a matter of hours, but rather days.  We hoped we’d have time to see him again.  We stayed for the tournament.

Late Sunday night we returned home, and while I took the kids home for dinner, baths and bedtime, my hubs went over to the hospice to visit.  The weekend was long and tiring, so I was in bed by the time he returned home, but the text from him that I saw the next morning reported how sad it was to see him like that.  He had been unconscious for the past 3 days.

Despite the fact that there was laundry and grocery shopping to be done, neglected while we were out of town the past weekend, I decided to forego all necessary yet mundane chores the next day after work.  There are priorities in life, and this was one of them.

When I arrived at the hospice center, my first impression was that it looked like a southwestern style spa oasis, not a building housing very ill people a few miles from Baltimore City.  It was a beautiful and richly appointed place, and the people inside seemed genuinely caring and sympathetic.  When I entered his room, I saw him sleeping on the bed.  A shadow of his former self and not much bigger than an anorexic teenager.  There was a TV facing his bed showing scenes of gently flowing streams and playing calming music.  It was very peaceful.  I did find the balcony off of his room, that overlooked a wooded area, to be a bit unnecessary in this setting, but it was a very lovely room.

I was glad to be alone with him.  It’s too much pressure when there are others there.  By ourselves I could just talk to him and hold his hand.  I talked about my oldest son’s tournament the previous weekend and how his team won the whole thing.  I told him that I was just starting to feel the baby move and I was so hoping he could have met his 13th grandchild, even though I knew he would see his birth and life from wherever his next destination might be.  I told him we would give the baby his name for his middle name, despite not having discussed this with my husband prior.  I told him that I was sure that he would soon be with his wife who passed a few years prior and that I knew it would be a happy reunion for them both.  I talked about when the boys were little and he and his wife used to watch them when I got home from work, allowing me to get dinner ready, and how the boys used to love visiting each day.  I told him how much we were all going to miss him, but how we understood if it was time for him to go.  I told him that 81 years was a lengthy time to be on this earth, and that he had fought for long enough.

I talked and talked, but have no idea if he heard a word.  It didn’t matter.   All of those words were just me saying goodbye.  When I heard that he passed the next morning, I was so thankful that I had that opportunity to see him that one last time.

He was a wonderful father to my husband, a surrogate dad to me, and a loving and doting Pop to my children.  He lived in our home for the past 15 years, and his absence will create a great void in our lives and hearts.  We will miss him terribly.  But are thankful we had the chance to know him.  The world is missing one more great man today, and so are we.

Guest Posting over at the Happiness Project

Since my good friend and fellow blogger, Jess, is currently on an envy-inducing and dream trip to Greece, she has asked a few blogger friends to guest post for her while she is gone.  This trip is actually her pre-honeymoon, as she is due to be married in July, but the soon to be wedded couple won’t have time to take a trip after the wedding, so they decided, “hell, let’s just go before!  Why not?”  I think it’s a brilliant idea, frankly.

Since she is pending her nuptials, I thought this might be a good time to finally tell the story of my wedding day, and all the joys and pitfalls that occurred on this most special of blessed occasions.  Despite the many months of hellish planning, and my increasing devolution into a wedding planning monster, it turned out just fine on the actual day.  Until the end.  The end was not just fine.  But, you’ll just have to read all about it to find out what happened.

Visit Jess at the Happiness Project to read my guest post and hear all about the day that I became a Mrs.

bride feet

It’s A . . .

When I got pregnant with my first child, the hubs and I were convinced it was a girl.  We had a perfect girl name all picked out . . . until the sonogram.  Then we struggled and fought for 5 months to come up with a boy name we could both agree on.

The second pregnancy was pretty much the same . . . both thinking it was probably a girl, and struggling to come up with a name we agreed on for our second son.

As I previously stated, we never thought we’d have to go through all that again, but now that I’m pregnant, I’ll admit it . . . I really really really want this one to be a girl!  Despite the odds not being in my favor (75% chance of having a boy after having 2 prior), I would not be swayed from my fervent hope of a baby girl.

When we first informed our kids that I was pregnant, it was unanimous.  The boys were hoping for a baby brother.  They were adamant that it was a boy, and even my hubs joined in by saying, “well, I make boys.”  I told him to quit jinxing my uterus.

Soon after, he left for a business trip to Brazil for a week, and when he returned, he brought back a few very Brazilian presents.  One such present was this:

Baby shoes

I teased him that if he made boys, these might not be our baby’s color.  Either that, or he bought the wrong size for me.  But, it warmed my heart that he seemed to want a girl as well.  At least for that brief moment when he was buying the shoes.

Immediately after we broke the big news of my pregnancy to everyone, I had a scheduled sonogram and blood testing for all types of issues.  Since I’m “high risk” or “advanced maternal age” (i.e. old as fuck), I got the full screening to see if anything might be wrong with the baby genetically.  What I didn’t realize at the time, as they never mentioned it, is that they could tell the sex of the baby once they received the results, which would be in about 2 weeks.  I found out that little detail about a week later, when I spoke to the lab tech who called with the preliminary results, and she told me that she would call back with the final results later that week.  Oh, and also, that she could tell me the sex of the baby at that point if I wanted.  Um, yes.  I wanted.  And then I waited.

When she called back and told me the news, I was at work.  I immediately texted my hubs to let him know:

Me:  Well, you were right.
Hubs:  The Havaianas were right?
Me:  Nope, you make boys.
Hubs:  I’m sorry, sweetie.  I really wanted you to have your girl.  Are you ok?
Me:  Yeah, I’m fine.  But damn you and your sperm!

And I really was fine.  It’s not like it wasn’t expected.  When she said “boy” it sounded completely right.  I’m a little disappointed, I’ll admit it.  But I will love this boy, just as I love the hell out of my other two.

So then, it was time to tell my kids that they had gotten their wish.  I wanted to do something fun and creative that they would remember, since I figured they’d be pretty excited about the whole thing.  So, I had an idea, and I ran with it.  First, I decorated a big box:

box

Then, I filled it with supplies I had grabbed on the way home, covered it with a blanket, and took the boys outside to reveal the big news.  I had them pull the blanket off on the count of three, and reveal the answer to the box’s question.  To say they were excited is putting it mildly.  My oldest ran around the yard pumping his fist and screaming, “yes!” for five minutes.  It was adorable.  I can only imagine the reaction if it had been a girl!

Boy balloons

So, now we will have to go through the fun of trying to name this one as well.  Based on the hubs and my history with attempting to name boys, maybe we’ll just wait until he comes out and let him name himself.  Might be quicker than waiting for his parents to come to an agreement on boy names.  (In case you were wondering, yes, I did already have a girl name totally picked out).

Also, I guess it’s time for a new baby picture as well.  Can’t have my little man wearing women’s shoes!  Might give him a complex right from the womb.

sono12wkshoes-boy

All You Need Is Love . . . and Brussels Sprouts

Recently, my husband and I attended a wedding for his boss in Fredericksburg, VA.  It is almost a two hour drive from our home to this location, yet despite the distance, we planned to drive down for the wedding and then return later that night.  The drive down was uneventful, thankfully, as you never know what you might hit when you have to drive near and around DC.  I’ve had the pleasant experience of sitting in massive traffic at midnight on the DC beltway.  But since we left our home 3 hours before the wedding started, in anticipation of such a possibility, we arrived in Fredericksburg about an hour before the wedding.  Not really knowing what “heavy hor d’oeuvres” would entail at the reception, we grabbed a quick bite a few blocks from the church at a cute little pizza place that served tapas in the bar.  We ordered a few tapas to share, and it was the perfect amount of food to tide us over for the remainder of the afternoon.

The wedding itself was lovely, if longer than normal, since it was a full service with communion and everything.  But, after an hour of sitting, standing, sitting, standing, standing, standing (luckily no kneeling), sitting, standing again . . . the ceremony ended with a full participant sing-along of the bride and groom’s favorite song:  All You Need Is Love by The Beatles.

Song

All You Need Is Love

When we first arrived at the ceremony, I reviewed the program and saw this printed on the last page.  Commenting to my husband, “I guess somebody is a fan of Love Actually,” we both wondered if there would be a horn section that would pop out of the pews randomly, and if a choir would appear in the upper balconies that lined either side of the church.  Honestly, we were both kind of hoping that would occur.

Click on picture for movie clip.

Click on picture for movie clip.

Once the sing-along ended, the wedding party exited the church and set up in the atrium for greetings, as you do.  While we were waiting for our turn to depart our seats, having been seated towards the back of the church, we turned and chatted it up with some of my husband’s colleagues sitting behind us.  As I was standing there, facing the back of the church, I happened to look up, and saw this:

Organ

Oh my god!  It is just like Love Actually!!  I was kind of disappointed at that point that they didn’t take advantage of this huge behemoth of an organ and have a full on musical accompaniment with their final movie-inspired song.  What a waste!

After the wedding, we made the two block trek to the reception locale, which was at a local wine bar/restaurant.  Upon entering the establishment, we were greeted by a waiter holding a tray of sparkling bubbly goodness that he was handing out to each guest.  As I am off the sauce for the time being, I declined and asked if he had anything non-alcoholic, like sparkling cider.  He informed me that they had lots of sodas to choose from.  Hmmm.  Not being a soda drinker, I opted for water.

Once we moved into the main area of the restaurant, we encountered a long table, filled with food items.  There was blue cheese and feta, there were some lovely lunch meats ala a charcuterie platter, and there were raw oysters.  Hmmm, again.  Realizing that I could not partake in any one of those items, I stood watching the hubs partake in these delicacies, while hoping that some other types food items would be served at some point.  After chatting with a few of my husband’s work friends, I realized that although my shoes were relatively comfy, after the up/down, up/down ceremony, the walk to the restaurant, and now standing for a stretch, I was actually getting more hungry for a seat than anything else.

Oysters

Nope to all of that.

A little while after settling in at a small cocktail table, a waiter walked over with some additional goodies on a tray.  He placed before us a lovely little bowl full of salmon wrapped around an herb spread.  Um, gee thanks.  It looked delicious, and more than booze, what I miss the most in my new restricted pregnancy diet, is sushi.  So this was just an awful tease.  In the “foods Misty can eat at the wedding” game, so far, I was striking out completely!

Salmon

Not nice.

Finally, after some time, we saw another guest walk by with some kind of vegetable on their plate.  The hubs, knowing that I was getting frustrated watching everyone else eat, and having had previous experience with a hungry, pregnant wife, decided to run up to the food table to see what was new that he could possibly retrieve for me.  Unfortunately, all he returned with was news that there were some roasted brussels sprouts brought out, but apparently they were scooped up as soon as they were set down.  (Was everyone there pregnant?).  He assured me that he spoke to someone, and that they would let us know as soon as more arrived.  At this point, I had merely consumed 3 glasses of water.

Eventually (this had to be after a full hour of being at this reception), an angelic lady walked over to our table with a huge bowl brimming with the most delectable brussels sprouts ever served.  She scooped about half of the bowl onto our plate, and what commenced was probably the fastest eating of a vegetable ever recorded in human history.  I scarfed those things!  They were delicious.  Either that, or I was experiencing a feeling akin to having the munchies whilst high on the weed, where anything I would have eaten at that point would have tasted like manna.  Or so I assume.

Luckily, those brussels sprouts broke the damn of food served that was appropriate for pregnant person consumption.  Thus followed some grilled shrimp, lobster egg rolls, seaweed wraps, beef spare ribs, and eventually a wonderfully decadent flourless chocolate cake.

By the time we left the reception for our long drive home, I was fully sated.  However, that didn’t stop the hubs and I from stopping at a local Arby’s to order a few items.  A shake for me, some cheese filled pretzels for him.  (I tasted them, by the way, and would not recommend them to anyone).

The moral of my story seems to be that while weddings are full of love and happiness and new beginnings, they are not the best place for pregnant people.  And also, that next time I need to cram some snacks into my little purse, along with my phone and lipstick.

A Surprising Desire

Once I finally accepted that this whole wanting a baby thing was not just a passing whim, I realized that I was going to have to try to convince my husband to go along with this crazy plan. This scared the crap out of me. I had an inkling that he might not be quite ready to jump on board, and that it was going to take some convincing. This idea would be coming from left field and would be especially surprising, considering the source.

But if it was going to happen, it was going to have to happen soon.  I was sitting square in the middle of my late thirties, with the big 4-0 looming on the horizon.  Biologically, I didn’t have a lot of time to waste.  It was almost exactly one year since my miscarriage when I decided to discuss the topic with him.

To say that he was “surprised” would be a vast understatement.  He was almost struck speechless by my unexpected desire for another child.  He then made many valid and logical arguments against it;  our age, the cost of a child, the physical and mental strain I would need to go through, the sleepless nights, his travel schedule, the possibility of losing another baby.

I couldn’t deny any of his points.  I absolutely agreed with him on every one.  He was correct.  It was an insane idea.  Yet . . . all of that logic and reason didn’t for one second diminish the persistent and aching need that I had to have another child.  It was beyond logic.  Something I never thought I’d experience.  But there it was.

I didn’t push the issue. I laid out my arguments and then gave him time with it.  I hoped fervently that the idea would settle in his mind and start to grow in his heart.  I had made my case, and there was nothing left for me to say to try to convince him.  He would either accept the idea or reject it.

The next time the issue came up, I realized that he had accepted it.  Although hesitantly and just barely, he was on board.  So we tried.  With no success for the first couple of months.  Until I took a test at the beginning of February and saw a positive result.  This time, my reaction was vastly different than the previous time.  I was overjoyed.  Cautiously overjoyed, but extremely happy just the same.

But it didn’t last.  I lost the baby on Valentine’s Day.

I was beginning to think that it was physically impossible for me to have a baby at this point.  I could get pregnant, obviously, but both miscarriages happened around 5 weeks.  So maybe I just couldn’t sustain a pregnancy past that point.  However, although I was discouraged, I wasn’t quite ready to concede.  My goal was to have this baby before I was 40, so I figured we had a couple more months to make that happen.  So we tried again.  And I got pregnant once again in March.

But five weeks in, I started bleeding again. Just to be safe, I scheduled an appointment with my doctor that day to get it checked out. I didn’t have high hopes, but I wanted to be sure. A sonogram revealed that the baby was still alive, but there was a lot of blood flowing around it. The doctor very gravely explained to me that it appeared that a miscarriage was imminent and that I should return later in the week for another sonogram, with the possibility of a DNC to be scheduled at that time. I was heartbroken.

I waited 2 days to find out the fate of this child. Forty eight hours. Two thousand, eight hundred and eight minutes. One hundred and seventy-two thousand, eight hundred seconds. I felt every single one of those seconds tick by. It was the longest 2 days of my life.

When I returned to the doctor’s office, a nurse took my blood pressure, as is routine. She noted that it was pretty high.  “Are you nervous?” she asked.  Yeah, I think I am.  I wonder why that might be.

I happened to have the same sonogram tech perform the second sonogram. She remembered me, and I remembered how kind she had been at my previous visit, when I couldn’t stop crying after the doctor told me the news.  She had allowed me time alone in the room to compose myself, while I’m sure others were waiting to use it. I was glad it was her again.

When the images came on the screen, I saw something quite surprising.  The baby was moving.  And there was a heartbeat.  The tech very excitedly said that the heartbeat was much stronger than 2 days prior and that the blood was congealing and not flowing as much as before.  This was very good news.  I have never been more relieved than I was at that moment.  When the doctor saw the results, she was very hopeful.  She wanted me to return in a week for a follow-up sonogram, but she said that it looked good. Once I got dressed, I may have floated out of the office.  It felt like a 2 ton elephant had been surgically removed from my heart.  I’m pretty sure my blood pressure had gone down by then as well.

All of that has led me to this point.  The moment when I can tell you that I am now at 12 weeks and counting, and baby #3 is due on November 30th.

sono12wkshoes

Looks JUST like me.

Emerging from the Deep

After my miscarriage, I decided that I desperately needed some help.  Of the professional variety.  Which was quite surprising to me, because historically, I had always outright refused and even scoffed at any suggestion of seeking therapy.

But this was different.  I was in a deep, dark hole and could hardly even see the light.  I knew I needed a trained professional to help pull me out of this suffocating pit of sadness.  So, I randomly searched for someone in my insurance plan who was geographically desirable, and within a week of a cold call, I was sitting in an office, telling a stranger all of my problems.  It was a bizarre and frightening experience for me.

To be honest, the miscarriage was probably just the final straw on top of my depression.  The one thing that made me admit that I needed help and just couldn’t handle my own shit any more.  I had been sinking and barely treading water for years before, but stubbornly thought I could eventually get myself out of the treacherous waters I was trapped in.  This event finally sunk me, but also propelled me to accept a life-preserver.

It was dreadfully hard for me at first.  I am not very good at opening up and sharing my feelings and emotions.  I am a very closed off person.  I build walls for good reasons, and I’m not too keen on someone trying to knock them down to find out what’s cowering behind the bricks.  But I had to do it if I was going to get better.  There was no other option.  So I slowly started chipping away at my protective layer to get to the gooey underbelly of hurt and emotion below.  It was difficult and painful.

After quite a few months of therapy, I realized that I needed some greater assistance.  My therapist had suggested on a few occasions that I might do well with some prescription medication.  But, I was firmly anti-meds.  So, I rebuffed this suggestion outright at first.  I actually accused her of trying to fix my problems with drugs instead of doing the work of being my therapist.  I was in a bad place and it was a horrible reaction.  But eventually, I came to realize that she was right.  I needed more help.

Cue a referral to a psychiatrist and a prescription for Wellbutrin.  And suddenly, the haze started to clear.  It was like I could finally breath again.  Everything felt more stable and real.  The drugs actually made me feel like I was finally sober.  Instead of dulling my senses, everything felt sharper and brighter.  It felt real again.

For the first time in a long time, I felt like myself.  There were no more random crying jags in the middle of my work day.  I no longer wanted to come home from work every night and just sleep.  I spent more time with my kids and was a much better mommy than I had been in a while.  It was drastically and distinctly noticeable to everyone close to me.  Some didn’t know what had happened, but they knew something was different.  A good different, for sure.

While my head was clear, I could really dig deep in therapy and try to heal some things that had previously seemed irrevocably broken.  I made excellent progress and found myself crying less and less each week, which was nice, because I was really getting sick of those damn tears.  I was slowly healing.  Shedding those weights that had been holding me down.  Sadness.  Loss.  Guilt.

And then a strange thing happened.  It started with just a glimmer.  Then grew stronger and stronger until I couldn’t deny that is was an actual desire.  I tried to ignore it, but it persisted, until it turned into an all-encompassing need.  Much like Glenn Close, it would not be ignored.

I wanted another baby.

Something I Didn’t Know I Wanted

The following is the first in a series of posts that I will be writing in the next few weeks.  They are neither funny nor snarky.  Together, they will form the story of what has been happening with me over the past year and a half.  I have not been ready to write about it until now.  The posts are serious, and can be a bit dark, just so you are forewarned.  However, by the end of the story, all is right with my world, so just hang in there and take the journey with me to reach the end. 

———————————————————————————————————————-

 

When I first found out that I was pregnant, I experienced many overlapping emotions.  Shock.  Disbelief.  Confusion.  Horror.

This was not a planned pregnancy, obviously.  I wasn’t expecting, nor did I desire, to have a third child.  My boys were 4 and 7 at the time.  If and when anyone had asked me over the years if I was going to have another baby, I usually responded that I was done.  And I meant it.  I started my relationship with my husband by declaring to him that I neither wanted marriage nor children.  I felt that our two kids were a good compromise between zero and the huge brood he had originally wanted.  Our family was complete.  We were content, comfortable and settled.  This new development threw us for a major loop.

When I informed my husband of the news, he was happy, but I could also see the trepidation in his eyes.  He could see that I was upset, so he tried his best to comfort and calm me.  Then he left for a business trip for a week.

During that week, I went through all of the stages of grief.

- Denial:  That test couldn’t possibly be right!  No way was I pregnant.  Not even possible.  This stage lasted as long as it took to take another test, with identical results.

- Anger:  Yeah, I was angry, dammit!  How could this happen to me?  I didn’t want to be pregnant or have another baby!  Pregnancy sucks.  Giving birth sucks!  Sleepless nights suck!  I hated this pregnancy and the baby.

- Bargaining:  I don’t believe in god, so there weren’t any deals with some imaginary guy in the sky, but there were definitely some proposals of action to the universe that I thought might be a better outcome than having another baby.  And yes, losing the baby was one of them, I’m ashamed to say.

- Depression:  And then the sadness came.  I kept thinking of all the things I would have to give up for this unwanted child.  Drinking, sushi, my body, sleep.  Every time I thought of another thing that this pregnancy would take away from my life, I sank deeper into the abyss.

- Acceptance:  A funny thing about acceptance . . . it sneaks up on you.  One minute, I was thinking about how difficult my life was going to be because of this accident, and then I turned around and found myself thinking about how sweet a baby is, and how my boys were growing up and were way past that baby stage, and how I missed that.  After just a few days, I realized that I had come to terms with this formerly perceived tragedy, and I was starting to look at it as an incredible gift.  Not planned for or initially wanted, but wonderful all the same.

And then, just as I started settling into the idea of it and began making mental plans, I started to bleed.  And just like that . . . it was over.  Gone.

That’s when the guilt started.  Everyone will tell you that it’s not your fault.  That you didn’t do anything to make it happen.  That it just wasn’t meant to be.  And while logically, I knew that was probably true, I also remembered.  I remembered all those glasses of wine I had before I knew I was pregnant.  The sushi dinner I had 2 weeks prior.  And the time I wished for this very thing to happen before I got over the shock of it.  I thought of those things, and I wasn’t certain that I didn’t somehow have a hand in this.

And then the darkness set in.

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