2020 Reflections

Like most of the global population, I am elated to bring this year to a close. While elated, I am also confused. What the hell just happened? Is it really over now? How did a nine-month period of time make me feel like I have whiplash? Is my neck actually physically injured? Was that my first experience with slow torture? Will there be any lasting side effects? Can I get a refund?! Most significantly, have I taken enough time to recognize the good stuff?

2020 will go down in my own personal history book as one of the worst years. There is no getting around it. This year was chock-full of loss. I lost a life experience that I dreamed about my entire cognitive existence. I lost friendships. I lost a cousin who brought so much joy to my life, I’m certain I’ll never be the same without him. I lost a pregnancy that I had been willing to fruition for 7 months. And to round it all out, I was terrified that I was going to lose my beloved grandmother to a stroke. I am pleased to report that was not the case.

Is it possible though that this was also one of the best years? This is where confusion sets in. I spent so much of my time this year complaining, worrying and in a state of perpetual angst (for good reason, and I don’t take it back). But is that how I want to remember this year? As we close the door on this dumpster fire, I realize the answer is no. There are two truths here. One being that I simply do not want to remember this year at all, and the other being that if I have to (which I’m fairly certain I do) remember this year, I want it to be for the joy and the growth and the beauty that came from the wreckage.

One of my many goals for 2021 is letting go of the past. Not entirely, but in a way that serves me to be better in the future. As I move into a new calendar, I think it’s important to try and take the lessons of this year of discomfort with me. I no longer need to carry the burdens of 2020 and while I expect that they won’t soon be forgotten, they can certainly be left behind.

*I’ll be spending part of my NYE writing out my goals, intention and vision for 2021 as well as using magazine clippings of key words to essentially give myself a visual manifestation of what I’m looking forward to.*

Reflection on this year has actually been one of the best things for me. I started writing this and it quickly turned from a list of everything that went wrong, to a list of all that I gained. When I was wading through the muck of 2020 life, it was challenging to see beyond what was right in front of me. I had a white-knuckle grip on the “press forward at all costs” mentality. Some might call it survival mode. It was about the only thing keeping my head above ‘muck’ level. 

Often while pressing forward, what was right in front of me was another challenge piled on top of exhaustion, sorrow and gloom. I hadn’t really given myself a moment to look back on all my beautiful accomplishments. Quite frankly, I maintain the mentality that if you found even one single way to thrive this year, you f*cking CRUSHED IT. Below is a list (for myself/hopeful inspiration for you see your own victories) of some of the badass things myself (and Tom) accomplished this year. 

In 2020, I/We:

  • Married a one-of-a-kind man, who has shown me what unconditional love REALLY means. We started our chapter as husband and wife despite our big party being “COVID Cancelled.” Additionally, I have grown from where I was when our wedding was cancelled, to a place where I can accept that what happened was our ‘meant-to-be’ and if things had been different, maybe we wouldn’t realize how wildly capable we are as a team.
  • Learned about myself. (This could be a whole different blog) I have actually never felt more in tune with or proud of who I am as a person and while I know I have a long way to go, I feel confident in the woman I am. I know that I possess the emotional capacity to sit with my feelings, to work with and through them, and to ultimately act in a way that is kindest to myself first. (And when I am kind to myself, I can be kind to others) I have gained the strength to not let my joy and decisions be dictated by the opinions of my friends and family, or anyone else. My heart leads the way in my life and I am SO darn delighted by that.
  • Stayed committed to therapy, which is something I don’t always do when life gets especially hard. It would have been easy to quit when we became a telehealth society. I am thankful to myself for not getting going when the going got tough. 
  • Am actively surviving the loss of a pregnancy, as I mentioned above. As a couple, we are pushing forward, hand in hand, with a fertility specialist to become parents. We are persevering with determination and I feel confident that 2021 will be the year we get our rainbow baby. In this process and through all the other struggles endured, we are becoming an even stronger couple. 
  • Bought a friggen house!!! We snagged a fixer-upper in a prime neighborhood, in the town I always wanted to raise our family in and we are slowly, actively building our forever HOME. I’ve learned more about the value of being patient and letting things happen in due time as well as my own physical and emotional limitations with biting off too much to chew.
  • Brought Roo home. We rescued a beautiful puppy who has brought light to a very dark year, and I’ve been so lucky to be able to love her. I’ve been graced with the privilege of watching Tom be her doggy Dad, which is just a small insight into how wonderful of a father he will be in the future. In just a few short weeks that Roo has been with us, it has been magical to watch her learn even the smallest tricks and hilarious to watch her concurrently stir up all kinds of puppy mischief. 
*But has there ever been anything cuter than this angel pup??*

So, while the above is not all-inclusive like the resort I wish I could be at, it is a step in the right direction and that’s what I believe the new year to be as well. I hope that when we wake up on 01.01.2021, we can let out a big sigh of relief and even though we all know that changing the numbers on the calendar doesn’t change the state of the scary world we live in, maybe you can feel some more optimism on a personal level than you had previously. I know that’s what I’m aiming for. If all else fails, this year has taught me that it doesn’t hurt to keep my expectations high and strive for better. I know I can do that.

As always, you’re in my heart. Happy New Year, my friends!

feelings, sharing

12.04.20 – I had a miscarriage.

Six days ago, I peed on a First Response pregnancy test. My period was 5 days late. When I was 3 days late, I knew something was up. At that point, I tested with a Clear Blue Digital. Negative. I had tested again and again in the next 48 hours with those little Easy @ Home strip tests. They were all negative. I thought I must be skipping a period because of how busy my mind and body were with moving into our new home. I came out of a state of sedentary and my body was physically working hard to de-popcorn our family room ceiling. It had to be a missed period. Or was I…? Could I be? I couldn’t… Or could I? 

Six days ago, I got a positive pregnancy test. Then another one. And then for the next six days, more and more and more. But six days ago, with my positive test, I also started spotting. I sent a message to my doctor in the patient portal, despite my weariness, proclaiming “I’m Pregnant!” I came to find out that was a true statement. 

Hindsight is 20:20. I can see clearly looking back that there was no way I should have gotten my hopes so far up in the first place. The spotting should have been the brick to keep me on planet earth and off could nine. We had been trying for around 8 months and I just couldn’t help myself. I thought of all the reasons why it made sense. I let my husband tell me it was real and tried to trust his ‘good feeling’. My heart was telling me I was pregnant even though my head knew I should breathe and pause.

“Of course, I am pregnant,” I thought. “I must be. We just closed on our forever home. We are really, truly ready now. My cousin just passed away and my spirituality tells me that this is a sign from him that he is with me. He wants me to have this new life.” 

It all clicked. Despite the spotting, it took so very little to convince myself. “Of course, I’m pregnant now. It happened when I least expected it. Like everyone said. When I dropped the ball on trying. This was meant to be.” 

Every morning, I took a test. Every morning, there was two lines, giving me hope and keeping me held on to the pregnancy. I knew on that last test that the line was fading and I lost the pregnancy. I didn’t want to, but I had to trust my instincts.

If I backtrack just a little in this story, this was also the cycle right after my husband and I had testing done to determine our preliminary fertility prognosis. I had been getting itchy about not conceiving and my gut told me there must be a reason why. Results came back that my beloved has lower sperm counts than desired for baby-making. When we got that information, we proactively set up an appointment with the UCONN Center for Advanced Reproductive Services. Once that appointment was established, we simply went about our business the way we had in months passed. I felt a lot less pressure knowing that help was on the way.

I didn’t think there was a chance that this could happen on our own. I thought with low sperm count on the table, we could ‘baby-dance’ until the cows came home, but we would not be making a baby without science on our side.

Then six days ago, those two little lines appeared on a stick and then a “Yes +” on a digital version. My whole life changed in that exact moment. It’s something I could have never understood without it happening to me. I yearned for that moment for so long that I didn’t even think about what I might feel when it happened. It was magic. I fell in love with what I learned was the size of a poppy seed and didn’t even have a heartbeat yet. 

Tom and I looked at each other, then the two positive tests, then at each other again and we cried. We did it! We were victorious against the low sperm counts and we beat the odds to create a miracle. 

Looking back on that moment, it’s one I will never forget. Unfortunately, the magic of it will be forever tainted with this morning’s phone call from the doctor’s office. My eyes filled with tears and my heart full of break as I was informed that my second panel of blood work had lower levels of HCG than my first. I lost our baby. I had a miscarriage. I don’t know when and I’m not sure how. I will probably never have anything better than hypothetical answers for those inquiries. 

I have so much on my mind right now. It’s just after 3pm. I got the call this morning. I am unsure about so many things. I can’t even really put the feelings into descriptors. My eyes hurt and my body aches. When will we be able to try again? I want to know, what’s the bottom line? When will we have what will now be our rainbow baby? 

The thoughts are racing but the one thing that’s not taunting me is that I did something to cause this. I know this is not my fault and there is absolutely nothing I could have done to prevent our little poppy seed from leaving us. I think that in this exact moment, that’s what is most important. That, and knowing that we will be parents. It’s not our turn right now. I am thankful I didn’t cancel our consult with The Center and I look forward to sharing how this sad story will eventually turn happy. I know it will.

I am not burdened with negative thoughts about myself, and for that I am thankful. I can feel how easy it would be to fall down that rabbit hole. It’s tempting. If I was going through what I am now, even a couple years ago, I have no doubt I would be processing it differently. In this moment, I am grateful for all the women out there who have shared their stories, their journeys and their truths about trying to make a baby. It is because of those stories that bravely and honestly depict the real experience of miscarriage that I am not sitting here feeling like there must be something wrong with me. 

The whole thing happened in the blink of an eye. Miscarriage has happened all around me to couples I know and love dearly. I am not the first or the last woman who will go through this. Today, I will choose to accept what I can’t change. I can’t change that I am no longer pregnant and I also can’t change that it makes me overbearingly sad. What I can do is write about it and share my story from a place of bravery as a form of therapy for me, and maybe to help you. 

If you’re waiting for your turn to become a Mama, if you’ve struggled with infertility, if my experience stirs up any type of feelings for you, I see you. I love you. My heart is with your heart. Thank you for reading this and being with me.