a window opens

There is an old saying that when God closes a door, He opens a window. And every once in a while, it seems to come true…

I went in to see my doctor a couple of weeks ago for a medication recheck and, somehow, the conversation drifted to babies. Our Philippines adoption plans fell through earlier this summer–not only are they no longer accepting applications for toddlers, but, according to our adoption counselor, they are about to add medical restrictions. Just about every country we’ve looked at now refuses to accept parents on anti-depressants. The only country that would possibly accept us is Russia–for a price tag of 30 grand+ and therefore not even within the realm of possibility for us.

So I’m crying, sharing all of this with my doctor, when suddenly she said, “Barbara, have you thought about trying to get pregnant again?” (I should explain here that we did try for a few months about two years ago, after consulting with a genetic counselor and a perinatologist. However, at the time–this was before I went to my beloved pain clinic–I was having chronic migraines. Not exactly conducive to babymaking. So we quit and decided adoption would be easier. Little did we know.)

According to my doc, all the signs indicate that I’m still fertile (I’ll spare everyone the gory details) and, despite my seizure disorder, history of depression, asthma, etc., the risks are manageable. I’d still be considered a high-risk pregnancy and need to be under the care of a perinatologist, but chances are more than good that we’d have a HEALTHY BABY!!!!!

IN PRAISE OF FOLIC ACID
The biggest risk to the baby is neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. This is thanks to my anti-seizure medications, which change the way the body uses folic acid; however, taking 4 mg of folic acid by prescription drastically lowers the risk. Yes, gals, that’s 4 MILLIGRAMS. And it’s been proven to work! (Otherwise I would never even consider pregnancy.)

So our quest begins. If anyone has any advice for me, PLEASE don’t hesitate to share!!! I figure that in a way I’m lucky after all that all of my friends have had babies before me–lots of experienced women out there for support!!

And if we can’t have a baby this way, then we’ll adopt through the MN Waiting Children Program. So come hell or high water, we are going to have a family!

i’ll see you in my dreams

“I never knew grief felt so much like fear.”
–C.S. Lewis

Lewis was right on target: grief does feel like fear. The same breathless, sickening sensation of a sharp kick smack in the middle of the gut; the trembly, disoriented, foggy feeling in the brain; the same clenching, harsh pain around the heart.

All summer–strangely, ever since my headaches started easing up–I’ve been dreaming about my parents, especially my mom. The dreams always follow the same pattern. I’m reunited with either or both of my folks, only to have them die right in front of me. Almost every morning I wake up, crying, to face another day of fresh, raw grief, as though they died only yesterday. It’s as though I’m haunted. It’s made me depressed and weepy as of late; I’m extra sensitive, so every perceived slight hurts all the more, and my self-esteem is swimming around in the depths of the toilet.

Obviously, I haven’t processed my mom’s death. As I look back over the past year, I realize I’ve dealt with my grief, in many instances, by not dealing with it. By focusing on having a baby, partly to fill the void left by her absence. (Yeah, my head knows that won’t work, but I suspect my gut feels differently. I should point out that I’ve desperately wanted a baby for a long time; it’s just that losing my mom makes my grief over not conceiving even more intense.) By distracting myself with the TV and books. By telling myself that hey, I’m forty years old now, it’s time to grow up and stop yearning for my mommy. The constant migraines, I now think, were in part, my grief coming out sideways.

Oscar Romero once said, “As a Christian, I do not believe in death without Resurrection.” And I do, it’s the hope I cling to. But I can’t bear the thought that I will never again in this life feel my mom’s arms around me, or be able to rest my head on her shoulder. That she’s not there to soothe my hurt feelings when I feel rejected or like a failure at something. That there’s no one left to reminisce with about the things the three of us did as a family together. I want to get past the grief, to get on with my life, to focus on enjoying my wonderful memories of my mom and dad; I just don’t know how to, I guess.

empty arms syndrome

Once again, nature has confirmed that I’m not pregnant. Maybe we should buy stock in Kleenex, as I’m going through a couple of boxes a week these days. I know it’s not healthy to focus on the negative things, that I should be grateful for all of the blessings in my life, but I can’t stop crying today. Actually, just about every day I wind up in tears; there’s always something that reminds me of how empty my arms are.

With my 40th birthday right around the corner, I’m constantly fighting the panic rising in my throat and the voice in my head telling me that it’s too late for us. Right now we’re debating fertility testing. I’m not sure there’s much point, really, because we can’t afford any kind of assisted reproduction techniques. Our insurance doesn’t cover it and we can barely pay our medical bills as it is. Plus, I’m hesitant to try Clomid (should that be a viable option) because it could make my depression worse. We’d love to adopt, and are looking into it, but I don’t know how in hell we would pay for that, either.

I’m just so tired of dealing with infertility. First, after we got married, one of my doctors said I shouldn’t get pregnant because my antiseizure medication might be too dangerous for the baby. Then last summer we consulted a perinatologist, who thought that after some medication adjustments we could go ahead and try; I’d be a high-risk pregnancy, but we’d have a good shot at a healthy baby. Now I can’t even get pregnant. And one by one, my friends have been getting pregnant and having adorable, lovely babies.

It feels as though motherhood is happening for everyone around me, and I just want to scream “Why not me?!” Am I being punished for something? Am I just totally deficient as a woman? We are so lonely for a child of our own. I’m happy for my friends, I truly am. But why, God, can’t I have a baby too?

I apologize for the pity party, but I needed to vent.

forgive me, baby-to-be

I can’t take it anymore. Chronic migraines have completely hijacked my life. I can’t sleep, can’t think, can’t write, go to chorale practice, see friends (or comment on their blogs!), go to church, or basically do anything that makes life worth living. SOME DAYS I CAN’T EVEN READ. AT ALL. I didn’t even get to go caucus Tuesday night and I was SO excited about being part of Super Tuesday. So I talked to my neurologist today about going back on my migraine medication, Topamax, at least until I get pregnant. He says that as long as I keep taking my 4 mg. of folic acid(that’s milligrams, not micrograms, ladies, because both Topamax and Neurontin, my seizure medication, increase the risk of neural tube defects), our as-yet-hypothetical baby should be okay.

Actually, if I don’t get back on my Topamax, baby-to-be, you will probably never come into existence, because migraines aren’t exactly conducive to babymaking. (Someday, when you’re a little older, you’ll understand what I mean. Your father will be the one to explain these things to you.)

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