Archive for infertility

More Than Just a Pink Suede Coat

I have been dealing with sleep disturbances for quite some time now. I can pretty much count on waking up from 2 a.m. until 4 a.m. every early morning. I’ll start thinking about my children, my marriage, our school, whatever transpired the day before, and what is coming up, for good or not-so-good.

The other night, though, I suddenly burst awake, startled by something different. My coat! My pink, suede, leather coat with lamb’s wool. Where on earth did that coat go?

Ugh! I totally forgot to clean it up from the dry cleaners…four years ago! I remember the day I dropped it off. It was not at my regular dry cleaners, but it was close to where my then-four-year-old Eva took ballet. While Eva was at ballet, I walked with three-year-old Vincent down a block and dropped off my coat at the cleaners.

I have been known to leave things behind, but I usually figure out what’s missing within a week or two. But four years?

I called the dry cleaners this afternoon. I began with “This is the craziest phone call you’ll likely receive today, but…” and went on to explain.

“Hold on,” the woman said. I heard voices in the background. I didn’t hold my breath; for one thing, it had been four years. For another, the coat is not one I would wear around town today, and it wouldn’t even fit if I wanted to wear it. I guessed it really didn’t matter whether they still had it or not.

“Yes!” she said. “We have it!”

“Are you serious?” I said. “No way.”

“Yes,” she replied. “I won’t charge you. There is some sun damage to one of the sleeves from being in the window so long.”

“Oh,” I said. “No, of course I will pay you. That is not your fault. I left the coat there for four years. I will come and get it!”

I smiled in disbelief as I hung up the phone. You know what? It’s true that the coat will not fit me now. And it’s true I would likely not wear it around ever again.

I began to reflect. When I was 28 and desperate for a baby, this is the coat I wore when I traveled from Ballard to Renton to take line dancing lessons with my sister at a wonderful big old barn. Having just had surgery and diagnosed infertile, after years of trying to become pregnant, this is the coat I wore when I cried each week alone along that drive from Ballard to Renton.

I wore this coat and my gold-tipped cowgirl boots along the drive to the line dancing lessons each week, tearful, regretful, mourning the children I would never have, blaming myself, and hopeless about my future as a would-be mother.

I mourned that whole winter following surgery and my diagnosis. The one thing that made me feel better was meeting my sister and line dancing. I remember smiling and laughing together as we learned dances to Suds in the Bucket by Sara Evans and Christmas Cookies by George Strait. After class, I would get in my car and drive alone home to Ballard, where I would resume blaming and regretting and mourning.

Thank God  for doctors who can at times work past infertility with hope and a prayer. Thank God for my first miracle baby, Eva, who arrived the following year. And my second miracle, Vincent. And years and years later, little Valerie.

My pink suede coat does not fit any longer. I wouldn’t wear it even if it did. But it is there waiting for me to pick up, and I am going to go get it.

A Special Father’s Day for G…Father of Three?

About eight years ago, I started to wonder why G and I didn’t have any children. Specifically, I wondered why I could not seem to become pregnant. Everyone else seemed to have the answers, though. Here’s what I heard when the matter was brought up in discussion:

“You’re too anxious.”

“You drink too much.”

“You should stop smoking.”

“You worry too much.”

“George isn’t home enough.”

“You need to relax.”

“You just need a vacation.”

Not only were these comments offensive and uninformed, they made no sense. After all, I was relaxed. My days consisted of going to the gym, walking my dogs, doing a little freelance writing, with no real obligations or anything asked of me. Vacations? George and I went on vacations all the time back then, usually to sunny Florida where we enjoyed rustic beachfront hotels, sun, and surf. I had nothing to worry about or be anxious over, for G took care of everything.

I finally went in to see a doctor who could help. While G was in the middle of the crab season, my mom came down to stay with me for a week and I went in for an exploratory surgery. The surgery confirmed what I knew all along; there were two reasons why I was not conceiving any children. The doctor made a temporary fix and told us we had about three months to conceive before the fix ran out and I’d need to have surgery again or explore alternative options.

Long story short, we conceived Eva during the second month of that window. I called G via satellite phone in Alaska (now in the middle of the halibut and blackcod season) and shared the amazing news. When our miracle Eva was ten months old, and not wanting to take any chances on more delays or problems, we tried for a second baby and that’s how our second miracle, Vincent, came to be.

Flash forward six years, and we have two sweet, smart, and precious children. They are close in age, good friends, and the light of our lives. Now that they are “big kids,” we got rid of all of our baby things. Bye bye two changing tables, two cribs, two car seats. Goodbye bottles, pumps, Desitin, baby bags, tons of diapers in two sizes, high chair, swings, play gyms, blocks, and stacking toys.

Hey, pack your bags everyone! We’re taking trips again! The house is free of baby clutter! We have everything in order with a bit of energy to spare. The kids dress themselves, they’re easy to take everywhere, and becoming more independent everyday. For our baby fixes, we get to love our niece and cousin, “Baby Autumn” and go to Jazzercise and see sweet smiley Bella. Everything is perfect!

But wait…I don’t feel good. Something doesn’t feel quite right. Maybe I should count back some days and study last month’s calendar. Then I move to the computer for some quick research. Next, I go to the store for an unlikely purchase and make a joke to my friend, who is working the register. Cross your fingers, I say.

Back home, I unwrap the box—a three pack. (You girls know what I’m talking about.) I take one. My eyes must be tricking me. I try the second. What? I move onto the third. No way.

I sit on the surprise and shock for ten days before I can reach George, once again in the middle of the Alaska blackcod and halibut season, via satellite phone.

“You’re going to be really mad,” I say. In retrospect, that was probably not the best opening I could have come up with. George thought I had bought a new car! By the end of the conversation, I’m sure he was wishing it was only a new car.

Now nine weeks along and slowly overcoming the shock, it looks like George is going to be a father of three. This has been an extremely long several weeks. Wow. How to sort it all out? With thanks to my Jazzercise friends, the crew, our families, and a book or two, we are slowly getting used to the idea.

I’ve seen the heartbeat on the ultrasound screen and could not believe my eyes. That little peanut with the strong beating heart blew me away. It reminded me what a miracle growing life is, and what a strange thing to be experiencing it again after all the heartache and grief we went through to get our family started in the first place. 

I have a lot of questions, though. Aren’t we too old for this? How on earth did this happen? How will I ever nurse a baby all night and then get up to take my two other children to kindergarten and preschool every morning? How will I take care of three children under six, often without G? And for that matter…will I be giving birth without him this time? The baby is due during the most critical portion of the crab season in January. He absolutely cannot miss that part, for it’s a huge amount of our income for the year. If he cannot be here, which friend will I choose to help me?

Aaah. As my dear friend Amanda pointed out, that’s why we have nine months of pregnancy. Time to get used to the surprise, time to work it all out and get used to the idea of a new direction for the family. G has been a real trooper; shocked and confounded at first and experiencing a bit of denial, he has come around as he always does. Thanks also to our crew; you guys are beyond awesome. They were genuinely excited and full of congratulations for George, and as I’ve experienced, that support, understanding, and joy carries you through the doubt and concern.

Oddly, once this new baby is born, there will be about a dozen kids among G, Bryan, Brett, Johnny, and Oscar. What a great boat family, Jazzercise family, and blood family to belong to. Love all of you so much!

So, Happy Father’s Day, George. I love you for your hard work, loyalty, dedication, strength, perspective, humor, and acceptance for what is. Your two—possibly three—children love you, and so do I. More than words could ever, ever express. I would not want to go through one day of my life without you.

Happy Halloween!

Some time ago, Eva informed me she wanted to be a kitty for Halloween.

“That is so sweet,” I thought. I immediately went online and researched girl’s kitty costumes.

WOW.

I did not expect to find what I found. Headband ears, long tails, short sequined skirts and racy tights, modeled by young girls, was not exactly the look I had in mind for my four-year-old.

I searched throughout the night and eventually found a costume in line with our needs: an innocent, sweet, furry, little girl’s kitty costume (pictured on Eva below).

I was a bit taken aback that it took no time at all to find a kitty costume a playmate might wear (even though my search specifically mentioned “child”), but quite a bit of searching to find a kitty costume a small child might wear.

No matter.

I was in tears this evening when I watched my Eva and Vincent trick-or-treat door-to-door for the very first time. Last year, we went to our small downtown to trick or treat at local businesses. This year, Eva opted out of that in favor of the neighborhood door-to-door. She couldn’t wait to have Vincent go up and ring our neighbors’ doorbells, then stand back with him and sing “Trick or Treat!”

Most of you know that I struggled with infertility before I was blessed with the miracle of Eva, and then Vincent. I never dreamed I would be so surprised, so lucky, to have children to take to parades or dress up for Halloween.

As I watched my two precious babies cross the streets with Daddy, ring bells, and look back at me for encouragement, I was overcome with love and gratitude.

Speaking of Daddy, he goes back to work tomorrow. He’s not going to sea yet, but he will be at the harbor every day with the crew getting ready for the Dungeness crab season. We do not want him to start work again, but I just keep reminding myself that at least we can visit the harbor and he is still in cell coverage.

Happy Halloween, all.