pregnancy loss, running, single mom by choice, SMC, Uncategorized

Rio

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Hi from Rio! It is SO incredibly beautiful here. We’re one block from the beach in Ipanema, I went for a run yesterday that took us the length of Copacabana, we’ve already had countless caipirinhas, fresh coconut water from coconuts on the beach, and every meal has been off the charts. Already looking into prices for a one-bedroom (anyone interested?!). When I ask, “Voce fala ingles?” they almost always say no, but they are so friendly and willing to play a game of charades with smiles and laughter. Today we walked around a hilltop neighborhood called Santa Teresa where there were bougainvillea-like blooms all over in red and pink, tricky cobblestones in flip flops, and views of the water that reminded me of San Francisco and the Mediterranean on a grander scale.

I just drank sparkling rose in a treehouse-like restaurant overlooking the city with my 3 travel companions. We’re turning out to be a great travel team. I’ve got the minimal language ability, P does charming sign language, K holds up Google translate on her iPhone, and A keeps us sightseeing where we might otherwise just laze around on the beach. As a toast, I said, “We worked hard to get here,” meaning the uphill cobblestones, but realizing that, indeed, we did work hard for the money, the time off, the prep, we are so fortunate to have this experience.

The baby project is so far back in my mind that I wonder if the whole story happened to someone else. The feelings emerged last night in my dreams: I gave away a crib that was meant for my baby and somehow hung from a high ledge wondering if I could keep myself from falling. Overall, it feels great to give this project a back seat while I enjoy myself and relax. My subconscious can carry it for a while.

I am showered for the wedding and have an hour to give myself smoky eyes, slip on the sequins, and buckle up the strappy sandals. It promises to be a memorable and well-photographed evening. I’m truly thrilled for my friends G and O, really sweet friends of mine, great for each other… I’m honored to be here to celebrate.

Rio-valuation of my life most likely to happen when we get to a sleepy beach town on Monday. Or maybe not even. I’ll just go with the flow here and check into my present moment as often as I remember. P just announced, “cocktail time!” from the other room, so… I’ve gotta go!

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dating, meditation, pregnancy loss, single mom by choice, SMC

and the winner is…

I wasn’t so sure how my performance review was going to go today, given that I’ve had this very all-consuming solo mama project rolling alongside my formidable work responsibilities since the beginning of this year. It went quite well, actually, better than expected. I didn’t have to say I’m “going through some personal issues,” in order to keep the train on the tracks. I had the line ready (or even: “I’m going through some health issues,” if it was really bad), but I didn’t need it. It was a much more positive review overall than I expected, which is great since my manager will be one of my travel companions in Brazil. So now the trip doesn’t have to be horribly awkward with me giving her the evil eye over our caipirinhas. And we’ve agreed not to breathe a word about work while we’re down there = an awesome idea that will preserve the integrity of our vaca and friendship.

Considering the effort I’ve had to put in to keeping everything rolling without overly puffy eyes or sneaky non-drinking or coming in late or leaving early or making everyone wonder if I have a terminal illness because of so many doctor’s appointments…I’m going to have to file this one under Enormous Victory.

“How are you doing?” say my friends. Each time, I take a deep breath and pause. The answer is always different–depending on the moment and who I’m talking to.

To you, right now, I say, “Better.” It’s variable but there’s an overall healing trend, no doubt about it. I’m fine and then I sit down at a dharma talk and get a glimpse of the teacher’s face and there are tears streaming, streaming, streaming. And I sit. And when I try to open my eyes 45 minutes later, my eyelashes are glued together with tears. And when the teacher asks for examples of kindness, a woman tells a story of a friend whose neighbor lost her baby. The grieving mother was in seclusion. This woman’s friend wanted to do something for her, so she went around the neighborhood and took photos, on her knees, from the perspective of a stroller. Then she made a book of the photos of the baby’s perspective during his short life. Everyone in the room had tears streaming then.

And I came out feeling better from letting the emotions and thoughts and tears flow.

Later that night I had my first phone call with the paramedic. He really makes me laugh. It also turns out that he doesn’t take just regular old 911 calls but works “the baby car,” meaning he helps newborns, infants, and toddlers. (*sob*) We planned out the first couple months of our relationship already, which certainly breaks every rule and probably dooms our prospects. But I will still show up for dinner on Saturday.

And now I’m going to have cocktails to celebrate today’s City Hall wedding of dear friend B and his new wife, M!!! Love and blessings to these two. I am excited to see some of my oldest and best friends at the celebration.

Finally, the results of the shoe search. Thanks to everyone who sent links to gorgeous and fabulous shoes!!! How much fun was that! We’re totally doing this again.

J won with silver in the end. He said, “You don’t want to be the gringa in the pink shoes.” It was important to him that my outfit looked planned and matching, and I take his advice very seriously. Basically, he is never wrong when it comes to fashion. These lovelies will show up tomorrow. Cheers!

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pregnancy loss, single mom by choice, SMC

leaning in

This weekend was the first time I didn’t have to keep my chin up. I kicked it off on Friday night with rapid-fire spicy emails with a paramedic from OK Cupid, a glass of bourbon, way too many Hint-O-Mint Newman-Os, and went to bed early. On Saturday, I woke up despairing and crying and disgusted with the state of my apartment, and then took the bull by the horns and found a housecleaner online who could be here in two hours. I also made an appointment for this Friday for a cut and color. Little by little, re-engaging with cleanliness and personal hygiene after a brief plummet. Teresa did an amazing job and I felt that between the stacks of pregnancy books and my puffy-eyed, greasy-haired state she figured out what I was going through and transmitted a subtle but motherly vibe in her delicate and thorough transformation of my space. Afterward, I took a refreshing walk through GG Park with L as the fog rolled in, took a bath to warm up (yes, this is our SF summer), and then received an upsetting and outrageous phone call which, due to limited emotional resources, I placed on indefinite hold. Then my sister came over with homemade delicious food and we caught up on Olympics gymnastics which we had both missed when it was happening and which is now fully available on YouTube.

I downloaded a book about first-trimester miscarriage from amazon onto my iPad, written by a woman who went through more or less the same experience as me from a medical point of view. In her case, however, she completely lost her mind–I am 2/3 of the way through and she is 110% cuckoo bananas. She is yelling and screaming at her husband and her health care providers, hiring lawyers to sue for malpractice, planning a memorial service–I mean it’s over the top and makes me feel like I really have my shit together on this. I have a feeling this is precisely why so many women gave it 5 stars.

Everyone handles this differently–I personally am trying to find a balance between honoring this loss while remaining optimistic and looking ahead and taking really, really good care of myself (which unlike the super-healthy habits of pregnancy are more along the lines of ice cream, cookies, and bourbon).

Everyone is saying all the right things. I’m up and down. It’s hard and it’s OK again. There’s the dark place and then there’s the growing hope.

I am a renewed fan of the expression, “My heart goes out to you.”

I posted this amazing quote from Pema Chodron on facebook yesterday:

“The next time you lose heart and you can’t bear to experience what you are feeling, you might recall this instruction: change the way you see it and lean in. That’s basically the instruction that Dzigar Kongtrul gave me. And now I pass it on to you. Instead of blaming our discomfort on outer circumstances or on our own weakness, we can choose to stay present and awake to our experience, not rejecting it, not grasping it, not buying the stories that we relentlessly tell ourselves. This is priceless advice that addresses the true cause of suffering- yours, mine and that of all living beings.”
(Taking The Leap)

Lean in–it’s so counter-intuitive but once you remove the resistance it just flows.

Today was all about running errands–got to have lunch w/ M before she jets back to Mexico, then braved Ikea for the first time in years (have you ever noticed how many pregnant women are in Ikea? it’s pretty much everyone), then saw my other friend M briefly and held her cutie pie F, then returned something at Macy’s and shopped for groceries. Check, check, check.

My final to-do before Rio requires some audience participation. Here is the fabulous dress I’m wearing to the wedding:

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No offense to this hot model, but I make a better hourglass in this dress. Now, I need to find the right shoes. I’ve been trolling on Zappos and there are a kerbillion options but I wonder if you have ideas on the perfect color to go with silver sequins? J said silver sequins but that’s too matchy matchy. Obviously, the sandals in the picture are just a huge missed opportunity. This is RIO, let’s go for it. C’mon, people! Work with me!

pregnancy loss, single mom by choice, SMC

M.U.A.

It wasn’t a D&C but a M.U.A: Manual Uterine Aspiration = way easier, gentler, faster.

M picked me up and I was discombobulated, forgot which floor, ran late, really didn’t get enough food or water in the morning, M had to drop me off and park and then find me but it all worked out.

First, they took some blood to check my blood type (O negative). Next, I went to sign consent forms with Nurse Stephanie. Hilariously, she had me take one Toradol (like a super-strong Motrin for cramping), 2 Vicodin, and 1 Valium before she had me read the consent forms and sign them. I said that seemed sketchy to me and she laughed and said the drugs wouldn’t kick in right away. She described the procedure as being way easier than the dilation and scraping I had expected–this was just a suction process and 5-10 minutes.

I mentioned a last-minute paranoia of needing to confirm that it really wasn’t viable and she said no problem–we can do an ultrasound right now if it would give you peace of mind. So we did, and there it was, the same, and she showed me different ways to confirm–it now measured 5w5d (smaller), and no blood flow within. OK. I was ready.

They took me and M upstairs to a room with recliners and heating pads and warm blankets and let us hang out while my drugs kicked in. I looked stylish in a hospital gown and a hair cap and hospital socks and slippers. I felt comfy but not too loopy or scared. M was such a good friend to have with me, calm and reassuring. Lucky she could be there.

The doc to do the procedure was Dr. Huddleston who introduced herself as “Heather”–the doctor about whom I have heard the most consistently awesome reviews. She was amazing. They all were so compassionate–so sorry to meet under these circumstances. But you can get pregnant. This will ultimately just be a bump in the road.

Once I was sufficiently looped, they brought me in the room and there were 2 nurses with her, one who always had her hand on my shoulder. Dr. H. did such a good job of telling me what she was doing, what to expect, that I was doing an amazing job. I stayed very relaxed. I had cramping during the suctioning but it was not even as bad as the HSG test, and I kept breathing and had my hands on my abdomen. She told me when I was almost done. Checked the ultrasound and said it looked “awesome.” I asked how much they took out and she said I could see it if I wanted to, which I did.

So once they had me sit up they brought over the bowl. I will refrain from too much detail for the squeamish among you, but she pointed out the sac which looked like the skin of a grape. I said good bye. The nurses sighed.

They told me I passed with flying colors.

Afterward, I cried a little and ate saltines and drank ginger ale. I felt nice from the drugs and, yes, a sense of relief. They’re telling me I should wait two months to begin trying again, and you know what? I can use a break now. I’ve been pregnant for most of the summer and I could stand some big runs, new hair color, caffeine, and cocktails.

Taking it easy for the next few days. I have cookies, ice cream, bourbon, friends. No longer in the mode of blaming time-wasting ex-boyfriends of the past. Looking ahead.

biological clock, breakup, dating, depression, pregnancy loss, single mom by choice, SMC

into the waves

So many people have let me know that they are inspired by my positive attitude, but let’s be honest: there is a huge negative attitude right behind it, two sides of the same coin. Most days it’s a choice: will you be grateful for what you have or resentful about what you don’t? Today the negative is overwhelming me. I spent the last two days with it packaged up in a little box so I could get through work meetings. You wouldn’t have believed it if you saw me: I was smiling, joking around, leading interactive presentations, drinking margaritas. I was surfing a big wave of emotion but always staying on the surface. I wasn’t even aware I could do that. It reminds me how many people are doing this all the time.

The very minute I was alone at the end of the night, I fell off the surfboard and into the waves. Today is the D&C. Today I just feel sorry for myself. It’s a big pity party over here. On top of the sadness of having a miscarriage, I am feeling the lack of a partner who clears his schedule to help me through the next few days. Thank god my sweet friend M is going to be with me for the procedure, and there are so many people there with me in spirit that it will be a very spiritually crowded room, and despite my negative outlook today I am hugely grateful for that.

I am so sad to let go of my ‘belly buddies’ as they continue down the pregnancy timeline and I fall off of it.

My dad has a strategy in tennis where he pretends he already lost and got another chance to win: pressure’s off. After weeks of anxiety and worrying and hoping, I finally lost. The thing I most feared actually happened. After talking to Dr. Tran on Monday, the conclusion is that nothing is wrong, we’re just waiting for a good match of sperm and egg. I had this stunning realization that this scenario is mirroring my dating life: bad match after bad match.

If I carry the tennis analogy through, I now have another chance to win. Which is true, and I will try again. I’m not giving up. I mean, I got pregnant 2 out of 4 tries and only started this in April–let’s keep it in perspective. All you have to do is watch the Olympics to know that you just keep trying.

In other news, the latest guy to ask me out is my friend’s ex-husband who wrote to me all about how crazy she is and by the way would I want to go out with him. Who are these people? Where is my good match????

At dinner last night, I overheard a co-worker (really beautiful, talented, sweet, single), say “Well, I’m 40 so I probably won’t have kids…” and I did feel even more resolved to keep trying as I nonchalantly sipped my first margarita in months. But this morning the disappointments feel cumulative–starting with the heartbreaks of my 30s, the BFNs, the poppy seed, and now the lentil. I just got a late birthday card from my ex-boyfriend’s parents…we broke up almost 10 years ago when he couldn’t commit, and now he’s married with a kid. Is there a way not to directly blame him for what I’m going through?

The Buddha would tell me to sit with it, all of it, and I’m sure that’s what I’ll do.

pregnancy loss, single mom by choice, SMC

bad news

We started the ultrasound and I could see right away on the screen that the sac hadn’t progressed since 2 weeks ago.

I’ll miscarry this one.

The two weeks of emotional roller coaster helped prepare me to some extent but obviously this is big and awfully sad. This happened an hour ago. Kleenex still conveniently on the dining room table next to me from 8.5 weeks ago during the chemical pregnancy tears. This process is beating me up…the time, money, emotional wear and tear. But I did wake up this morning with “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger” in my head (no joke).

I wish I had better news today and, again, I am so sorry for dragging all of you along. I wish I could do this quietly but I’m not sure I’m capable of it. I do have faith that my body and the beginning of a baby knew what was best. This is what they’re talking about when they say it’s harder to get pregnant when you’re older. This is reality.

Taking inventory and crying it out. Love you guys. Thanks so much to all who believed in this one with and for me… my uber-supportive parents, and sweet A who came with me to the appointment. xo

anxiety, pregnancy, pregnancy loss, single mom by choice, SMC

midway

Hi all, thank you for all the check-ins. For lots of reasons, including the wedding, the business trip, and emotional processing, I let the “suspended” post stand for days because I am still suspended and that’s the bottom line.

However, lots has happened. I have to keep this brief as I am standing at a work station at Midway International Airport which seems fitting since I am midway between two outcomes without any definitive news.

Many times in the past few days, I have reached a crisis point of figuring it’s all over. It could easily be not viable given the symptoms that are piling up. However, the docs and nurses tell me everything I’ve experienced is in the range of normal. Or it could be a miscarriage. Either one.

(Warning: If you’re a guy friend who recently told me that he reads my blog but feels there’s too much about “the chemistry of the vagina,” the TMI starts here.)

Spotting started on Thursday night, which, in combination with my questionable ultrasound, plunged me into despair. Talked off ledge by R and L at dinner. I pulled it together and went to the wedding, where bathroom visits became panicky as tiny clots started to emerge. Held hands crying in the moonlight for 10 minutes with C and L before going back in to dance the night away. Home on Sunday, low point on Sunday night where the stress of my upcoming 6am flight was too much and I called my family and yelled about how hard and sad and awful this is. Puffy-eyed 6am flight, arrived in Chicago, went to work dinner, more clotting. This is it, right? Called UCSF answering service, got a very reassuring and nice doctor who said clotting is still old blood, same as the spotting…could become a miscarriage, but could be normal. (She also mentioned, “I see from your ultrasound that they saw everything they wanted to see, but the sac measured 5w6d so it was too early to see the fetal pole.” She said the next ultrasound would tell us everything.) Next day, I woke up with cramps. OK, THIS must be it. On the day of my presentation, awesome. Olga called and said cramping can be normal. Took a couple Tylenol. Haggled with the hotel for a late checkout (J told them I was having a medical issue and they nearly called an ambulance). J gave me an awesome pep talk that I wish I had recorded–by the end, I was laughing. Made it through presentation. Bailed on work dinner and made it to my friend K’s house for the night–wonderful. Symptoms slowed to almost nothing.

That’s where we are, folks. I hesitated to write and drag you on the still-bumpy and still-inconclusive road, but I’m getting so many check-ins (thank you!) that posting is easier. I know you want to know, I know it’s suspenseful, and I’m glad you’re there and you care. I am feeling stoic with a large dose of denial so I can get through each day. To answer the obvious question, YES I would love to get an ultrasound but it’s complicated on the road plus given the early measurements from the doc it could STILL be too early. So, we’ll know by Monday at the latest but maybe sooner. I appreciate your good wishes.

acupuncture, anxiety, meditation, pregnancy, pregnancy loss, single mom by choice, SMC

suspended

Hi guys. It’s been a tough week to find the time to write or even know what to write. I even have to make this post quick, since I have to pack for a wedding and jet off to work.

I’ll start by saying that so far everything is OK so far–I know my last post scared some people who had to speed read to the end. Everything, as far as I know, is OK. I am OK.

After sending a query back to Olga about the vastly different response I got from her vs. the other nurse, she sent this:

Hi Katie,
When I read the note it said intrauterine pregnancy but I overlooked that it said no fetal pole. It is still very early in the pregnancy so we should definitely have more information at your next ultrasound on 8/6. 6 weeks is very early and the pregnancy can definitely develop as time passes. I will keep my fingers crossed for your next ultrasound. By 8/6 they should see a fetal pole and a heartbeat. Keep positive and keep me posted. Thanks! Olga

Olga kills me. I try to have a sense of humor about her, but sending a congrats before reading the full note is not excellent care.

The day after my ultrasound, I found out my tentative business trip to Chicago was confirmed for next week and I would need to fly to Chicago the same day as ultrasound #2, as in go straight to the airport directly from UCSF. I knew that would just be too much stress. I decided to meditate on it at meditation group and also sleep on it. By the morning, I had decided to put off my ultrasound #2 by one more week.

I know it sounds kind of bananas since, of course, I am dying to know. But I want to go back when the result will be conclusive and no sooner–no more messing with my head over the chances of what may or may not be. My new appointment is 8/13 at 8.5 weeks with the nurse practitioner (and not the mean doc, thank goodness). Since I’ll be right across the lake from my parents, I decided to take the 55 min flight from Chicago to Manistee to work from their house on Thursday and Friday and spend the weekend here:

It all came together and I felt so relieved. As a final cherry on top: yesterday, work circumstances determined that J will be flying in from NY on Monday to assist me with the presentation–he might even pick me up from the airport. I’ll be surrounded by love and distraction the whole time.

And, even before that, a big wedding weekend 1.5 hours from SF with great friends–I’m leaving this afternoon for the rehearsal. And before that a lot of work to finish. And packing. These things woke me up at 4am and played on a ticker tape until I figured out the order that everything needs to get done, decided what I won’t have time to do or what will have to be put off until Sunday (too much), and went back to sleep. I’ve been waking up at 4am or 5am regularly. My acupuncturist can feel the stress and light sleep in my pulse. He is so unimpressed with UCSF care and wished I could get the second ultrasound sooner just to get my body off this stress spiral. But…it just isn’t possible (unless I can’t stand it anymore and schedule something in Traverse City, not impossible).

As with trying to telepathically detect signs of pregnancy, I am detecting signs of which direction this is going, and I’m not going to drag you along on that paranoid and bumpy road. The speculation is the unbearable part and gets us nowhere. The jury is truly still out.

My #1 job right now is to reduce stress where possible, be kind to myself, meditate at every single opportunity. try to make all these planning, packing, working steps easy. Decide what to not to do. Everyone encourages me to stay positive and I am really, really trying. It’s the biggest roller coaster yet.

I am a strong and powerful person.