Cupcakes With Pink Filling (Survival of Gender Reveal Take 3)

May 30, 2014

Wow!  It's been almost 3 weeks since my last post.  Here are my top excuses: 

1. I'm a teacher and the end of the school year gets muy loco, I also am teaching a graduate class and an online Spanish course.  Oh ya, I run prom too (here's my BIL, sista, me, and Darren chaperoning our hearts out)

2.  As mentioned, we are on an official break which means there is very little to update.  Although I've been enjoying my runs/gym time, my guilt-free Starbucks, and more spontaneous sex, I've been baby-making obsessed for over 3 years-that doesn't just shut off.  I still feel that first sting when I see a pregnant person, I still cringe at new announcements, I still roll my eyes during diaper commercials, and I still think about Jude and Brinly every breath; and the desire to someday hold their siblings is with me every single second of the day. First official month of "not trying to try" but I still question if I'm ovulating in my brain- although I didn't do any ovulation predicting kits, I'm 99% sure I ovulated on cycle day 18 (I've read this is common to ovulate on your own the month or two after stopping femara).  With that said, I'm 100% sure I'm not pregnant because of A. negative test 12 dpo and B. insane cramps. No surprise here.  I've accepted that unless some miracle randomly occurs, me becoming pregnant lies in our frozen embies on ice.

Holly, when do you plan to go after the embryos you may be asking?  The answer?  It's a little complicado.  I am full of anxiety even thinking about how many to transfer and needles and hospital.  The specialist recommends 1, the RE 2.  My track record (with all great 5 day blasts) is as follows.  First IVF transferred 2-1 implanted but early miscarriage; 2nd FET 2 transferred, nothing stuck.  3rd IVF transferred 3, all 3 implanted and had heartbeats, middle baby B miscarried at 9 weeks and J and B lived healthy little fetus lives till @$@#%@%@ (notice my extra long bad word) hit the fan and I lost them both.  So that is 2 for 7.  5 were probably abnormal to miscarry/arrest.  So do I really want to go through 1 at a time with each transfer about $3,000 a pop and tons of injections?  BUT, I was told that I should NEVER carry twins.  If both implanted, I would be 100% horrified that I would pProm again and kill my children.  Whenever we drive by OHSU I do still manage to shout out really really loud (partly to annoy Darren) "Hi little frozen babies!! I love you!  I miss you!"  I've said this before but the day I said "I do" to Darren I never IMAGINED I would be yelling hello to our frozen children every time we were in Portland. 

All this to say, Darren and I booked a cruise that leaves from Puerto Rico at the end of the month to get out.  I'm assuming I'll make some decision by end of the summer and remain fairly private about it because I don't know if I can handle accepting the reality and horror that may come if it works (scared to lose baby again) and the pain (if it fails).  However, by early fall it's been almost a year.  I want to have a memorial for Jude, let go, and move forward despite the fear.  My desire to have living children is still stronger than my fear, even after this nightmare experience of delivering/laboring 2 babies weeks apart.

On a second note, my younger sister Heidi is 19 weeks pregnant with her 2nd child.  She got pregnant the first month she tried. Again.  I would be lying if that initial announcement didn't kick me in the gut, make me sob,  and force me question my faith once again. Why would God allow something so horrible to happen to me, while making the same thing so easy for her?  I avoid pregnant women like the plague to protect myself but no way on earth would I avoid Heidi.  I would NEVER wish infertility on her, my best friend, my own flesh and blood, BUT, I wouldn't have minded if it took them the normal 3-6 months (and for the record I think even she was surprised they were lucky enough for another 1st month).  It blows my mind that 2 sisters can have such extremely different reproductive systems.  It's not her fault her uterus is amazing and it's not my fault mine sucks.

Before my loss of J and B, I had mastered the "happy for them, sad for me" concept.  But since their loss, I've changed a bit.    In this dark season of my life, I'm mainly just sad for me in all things pregnancy related.  For us.  The voice of the women that have fought so hard and still have empty arms.  It's selfish but it's truthful. 

Heidi just had her gender reveal party.  I knew from day 1 my gut told me it was a girl so I wasn't surprised when I bit into the cupcake and saw pink.  Ahhh Brinly, your sweet little cousin would have adored you like the "cool" older sister.  When I was in 1st grade I always thought 2nd graders were SO cool.  You would have been that to Heidi's little girl.  She would have admired you, looked up to you.  You would be the older sister she never will have-you two would have had slumber parties at each of our houses and been best friends just like me and your Aunt Heidi.  I would have French braided your hair with her and painted your toes with her. 

I had to let go of being the oldest daughter and not giving my parent's their first grandchild.  When I was in the mist of our first IVF Heidi gave birth to Ryker.   With the bite of the pink cupcake I also swallowed the fact that I will not be the first child to give my parents a living granddaughter.  Minor, small, I know, in the big scheme of things, but still, until that bite it was something I could think "well maybe I'll at least have the first girl."  It's nothing new to me that life isn't always fair, that things don't always go as planned.  I accept it.  I accept, even in my pain and bitterness and sorrow, that He knows better.  That the heart of God is kind and gentle and purposeful although in the valley I mainly just see dark.  I asked Heidi if I could throw her shower-the first shower I attend after the loss might as well be their sweet little cousin's. I will love that little girl the way I love her son.  But, good Lord, I so wish my kids were here to play with hers.  And she wishes that too.  And so does her husband and my husband. And so does my mom.  And my dad.  And my brother.  And all those that love us and care for us and are rooting for us.  I love all my nieces and nephews, but they are not mine.  They cry for their own mommy when they need something. 

On the way home from the "reveal" party we were pretty quiet. This sadness doesn't come from Heidi's pregnancy, it comes from the remembering of our own gender reveal celebration and loss.  I didn't cry. Then Darren randomly asks me "Do you think losing Brinly and Jude has changed your personality?"  This threw me off a bit ("has my personality changed?" I quickly ask myself).  I paused for a long time.  Then said, "No, I still feel like I'm me, but I'm a lot more cynical....Do you feel like it's changed yours?"  He replies, "I don't feel like have as much joy about things any more."  Darren is the stronger/stable one in our relationship.  He rarely discuses the loss and to hear him say this, made my heart feel extra sad.  Jude and Brinly's dad has loss so much too. 

Through all our pain, I at least have had my eyes open to the other pain and suffering around me.  When bad things happen to people I know, I feel it a little deeper.  Empathy.  Sorrow.  Compassion.  Although the pain/scar of J and B will always be there, the fix will be someday, somehow, somewhere be when I meet their siblings.  Like I mentioned in a previous post, I bought J and B and book called My Love Will Find You around the 9 week mark.  That love is stronger than ever because I looked in my child's face and knew we couldn't quit.   And I pray that God makes things right. In my scattered prayers I ask, just like He says, that He will make beauty from ashes.  My. Love. Will. Find. Them.

My First "Mother's" Day

May 11, 2014

Like many things (my first biggest fear was J and B's true due date), going to the first baby shower after loss (still avoiding that one), and now Mother's Day, when the days comes and goes and I realize I am still alive, still breathing, I realize it wasn't quite as bad as I had imagined.  As I stayed pretty much cocooned up in the house, I was surrounded by love and kindness.  Here's a little recap.

Yesterday on the way home from the beach with my in-laws, we saw this:
If you look closely, it's a double rainbow.  Sure it's Washington here and sure it's grey and stormy, but in my heart I like to think it was from J and B and God.  Or at least beautiful timing.
The second sweet surprise was I got TWO actual "Happy Mother's Day" cards in the mail acknowledging me as a mom.  I presented them to Darren when he got home and he looked at me hesitantly-"does that make you happy or sad?"  "So, so happy I replied."
Third, my mom put this as her instagram:

There was my name, with my grandma's and great grandma's and mom's and sister's.  Holly Benson listed with the other moms, no long explanation, just my name.  Although I skipped the celebration my mom assured me that the day wouldn't pass with her talking about J and B and that they are always a part of our family.  I cried with love.

I managed to stop by Starbucks to get a drink with my mom after they went to church and my grandma stopped by with a book as a gift and this is what was written inside:
Darren and I did some errands and a few hours later this was on my porch:

On Saturday I also got this in the mail (it says: Brinly and Jude Held Your Whole Life):

And 7 different people texted me this (or something sweet):

In the meantime, I was considering looking at the pictures of Brinly.  They are on a cd and for some reason I thought today would be fitting and I was feeling brave.  I climbed into the attic and opened the bins full of their things.  The precious clothes I had bought them once I hit the "safe zone."  Ultrasound pictures.  Their official gender reports.  His death certificate.  I couldn't find Brinly's CD-must have gotten misplaced during those insane weeks.  Darren swears it will show up and I'm ok with that too.  I peeked into the memory boxes I visit so often and looked at their footprints, I stared at Jude's face and held his blanket.  I allowed the silent tears of love and sorrow to fall down my face and before I could stop it allowed the prayer to leave my lips again, "Please, make it right, let us see redemption win."  And shockingly, this prayer wasn't the angry bitter deeply hurt prayer that I've spit out a few times since the loss.  It was a gentler, broken, humble exchange. 

Grief has waves and they come un-expectantly, the anger isn't gone.  The massive wounds are no where near scarred over, and my obsession to meet their siblings someday grows every second, but today I felt mainly just love for my children and proud to be their mom. 

Last Sunday was "Bereaved" Mother's Day, Next Sunday is Mother's Day

May 7, 2014

I'm lost in between the days.  Yes, I am a bereaved mother, and yes, I am a mother.

I have had four losses, an empty sack and 3 additional heartbeats inside my body grow to 9 weeks, 18 weeks, and 21 weeks that are no longer here with me. I have seen the evidence myself.  10 toes, 10 fingers. Perfect and gorgeous beauty-the products of a loving mommy and daddy, eager parents who cannot wait to bring the world to their children.  I have felt my daughter kick. I have held my son.  He laid on my chest, forever asleep, moments after his own heartbeat stopped due to my body failing him and going into labor too soon for him to survive outside the womb.  I am the mom of Brinly and Jude, they are real. 

I refuse to remove my necklace with the initial of each 4 lost loves.  I refuse to stop looking at my pictures of Jude after he was born.  When people ask if I have children I often say "no" to avoid the awkward silence that follows-but it's not worth the guilt I instantly feel for betraying the truth and betraying their existence.  "Yes, but they died at birth.  Twins."

I will not attend church this Sunday. Church is for the mothers.  They honor them and have them stand and give them flowers.  They ask all moms to stand.  I will feel like an imposter if I stand (she doesn't have kids?) but a traitor if I don't (Jude and Brinly's name woven on my finger on my ring).  It's easiest to stay at home, to think about them and what they would have been.  I'm convinced Jude would have been like me-more serious, responsible, hardworking and driven, bound by rules and goals while Brinly would have been like her dad-free-spirited, a dreamer, adventurous, friendly and wise. 

I was filled with the worst dread and horror when I knew they wouldn't make it-yet were still alive.  The agony of those days begging God to help us while each day brought on more intensity and sadness than before.  The pain I felt when I saw Brinly curled up like a potato bug on the ultrasound when her water broke-it was my first real mother instinct-"I'm here with you, I'm right here Brin, mommy's with you" I would say, knowing in my heart that she was going to die unless there was a divine intervention.  And the crazy love I had for Jude the second I saw his face, the second I knew that we had to keep fighting.  I hugged him, I kissed him, I cuddled him.  He was mine and losing him nearly broke my own heart into a million pieces...

Although I choose to spend Mother's Day quietly, alone with Darren, I think of my own strong mom.  All the while my own mom had to stand right next to her own baby and watch me drown.  She had no rope.  She had no lifeboat.  All she could do was helplessly watch her own daughter walk through the darkest of terrors helplessly.  If I put myself in my mom's shoes, I too would hate that.  To watch my own daughter who I raised and I loved losing her children in slow-motion, one after the other in a cold, sterile hospital room -I would melt down. 

My own mom stood next to me when they broke Jude's water.  She heard it come out too.  My own mom held my son more than I did.  Loving him, loving me.  My own mom looked at both twins, took pictures of them, and talks about them as members of our family.  They say having a child is like having your own heart walk outside your body, I can only imagine how my mom's heart was those cruel days as I drowned.  I never want to lose another child again and I never want to watch my children go through the loss of their own children.  Nobody wants this.

Lastly, I want to wish you all a Happy Mother's Day.  I know so many amazing mom's in my life.  I know so many amazing women who follow the blog and have made it through the infertility battle to motherhood.  But I also know so many women who are still in the "trenches" and still fighting for their families, 2, 3,8 years later-you women are moms as well.  You have been in love with your unborn child since day 1 of ttc and that love is real.  When I was pregnant with the triplets I bought a children's book for them called "My Love Will Find You."  Our. Love. Will. Find. Them. Too.

I leave you with 2 great links.  1 is called "World's Best Mom " and it's written by a husband of a mom who just lost her child as well.  The 2nd, is a video I've been saving to share, that honors all moms on Mother's Day.

Video for ALL mothers

My Bucket List:

My Bucket List: