Saturday, December 19, 2015

Yes, We're Having Twins. Here's What You Can Do:

You've probably seen the cute announcement Kam put together. Yes, we're having twins. And we're super excited about it! But it's all a little more complicated than that. So here's what you can do to help us as we navigate the next seven months and beyond.
  • Do pray for us. One of the main reasons we're announcing so early is to ask everyone for their prayers and good thoughts. We are doing everything we can to keep these babies safe and healthy, but so much of it is out of our hands. We believe that faith will be the strongest power in bringing our babies to us, and also the strongest healing from whatever challenges lie ahead.
  • Do understand where we're at. As of Wednesday I am seven weeks along. That is still very early, but this pregnancy has shown to be healthier than either of my last two pregnancies. We have seen healthy heartbeats for both of the twins and they are both measuring on schedule. I am seeing a great team of doctors and have many appointments ahead to keep close eye on them. I am also taking medications for a few conditions I was diagnosed with before this pregnancy began. The twins appear to be mo/di, which is common in identical twin pregnancies, but presents some unique risks. But that's what our team of doctors is there to look out for. We're definitely not going to be out of the woods for a very long time, but all signs point to good things right now.
  • Don't judge our display of emotions. We are incredibly excited, but we may not always show it. Kam once explained to someone how every morning we wake up and decide to be excited instead of scared. And then the next morning we have to decide the whole thing over again. The fear never goes away one hundred percent, but we are trying our best to stay positive and expect good things to come.
  • Don't forget Liam. Having the twins to focus on has really lightened the load of my grief in a lot of ways, especially in regards to my infertility. And deciding to be optimistic each morning has helped me have a more positive perspective in other areas of my life as well. All of this means that it's a lot easier to focus on the blessings Liam has brought to our lives, even in the midst of missing him. I sometimes have to remind myself that it's okay to not always feel sad about him. He can still be a happy part of our family. Please remember that he will always be our first, and we will always include him in our family. It is crazy whenever I look at our stockings and realize we're already a family of five! It is comforting to have Liam looking out for his brothers or sisters from the other side of the veil, and I am sure he will play a very real role in their lives.
  • Don't suggest our losses were a means to an end. It's easy to imagine that with the miraculous news of our twins on the way that all the pain we've been through must have been designed to get us here. Sometimes I've even thought this myself. But that thinking reduces Liam's life and invalidates the pain we still sometimes feel from this difficult year. While I may even express these same sentiments sometimes, when they come from someone else it can come across preachy and insensitive, especially if I'm not sharing those feelings at the time. Please allow us to figure out what the purposes of the challenges in our life are on our own and support us as we do. When in doubt, I've always liked this quote from Doctor Who (Yes, I'm a nerd.), "The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things or make them unimportant."
  • Do get excited about what a miracle this is! Just so you understand what an incredible surprise these twins are, let me explain how they came to be. We have no idea! I am working with a fertility clinic and taking a lot of medications, but none were meant to increase my chance of having fraternal twins and fraternal twins don't run in my family. That said, we're not even having fraternal twins! Identical twins are still a mystery and science hasn't been able to pin them down to genetics or any specific environmental factor. Only three in 1000 pregnancies turn out to be identical twins. So we are indeed feeling pretty lucky right now. I'm starting to wonder whether statistics really apply to us at all.
Now that you've read this far, let me reward you with a picture of our two little blueberries!

We really appreciate everyone's love and support, and we're excited to see what the new year has in store!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Small Tragedies

Here's something I don't often admit.

Not all of the grief is about Liam.

I miss him to pieces. His absence is my deepest scar. Everything I am now is influenced by who he is. For months I thought the quotes about carrying your baby in your heart were just a cliché, until I realized how much Liam had become a part of who I am, and that means I am carrying him with me.

And for that reason, most of the time I'm okay. I still break down every once in a while, but mostly, I'm okay. I miss him, but he's safe, and he exists, and he's mine, and those are all good things, so I can be okay as long as I know that. That doesn't mean I'll forget about him and move on. I never could and I never will forget him, and I would never move anywhere without taking him with me. But I move on, as I carry him with me, and I'm okay.

The freshest grief comes from a series of smaller tragedies. Questions with even more unknowns than what happened to Liam when he died. How do you process the loss of a pregnancy that you only knew about for four days when you're still grieving the baby you held two months before? What is the purpose of a pregnancy in which there may never have been a baby? How do I balance the relief of finding answers with the fear of knowing those answers mean I'm ill?

I updated this blog when I lost my second pregnancy at only 4 weeks gestation, not knowing whether that pregnancy was a baby or not. A month ago we were faced with the same questions when we lost our third pregnancy. This pregnancy never showed evidence of a baby--just an empty sack. I chose not to make an update after that loss because I was tired of sharing bad news, because I was afraid saying that I didn't think there was a baby this time would invalidate Liam's life, and because that loss was drawn out over several weeks and by the time the loss was finally confirmed, I had dealt with most of the shock already. But my feelings of shock resurfaced this weekend when I received the results of a lab test for a genetic disorder related to repeated pregnancy loss.

It took a while to decode the results. I only had the data. No doctor had called to explain. After checking and re-checking, I discovered I was positive. At first I was relieved. This gave us an answer for all our heartache. And if we knew what was wrong we could fix it. But after hours of googling about treatments I found that not all of the information agreed, and although there was the possibility of a relatively simple treatment, an alternative possibility suddenly became very clear: that this wasn't a complete answer. That we may still not know. That there was no way of knowing that everything would be alright unless I was tested for every condition known to man, and even still we wouldn't know that all would be alright.

I just couldn't know whether the next pregnancy would make it, or if we'd just be walking into loss yet again. I would never know until it was over, and even then, I still wouldn't know that newborn baby wouldn't be taken away from me. I just can't know whether I'll ever raise children in this life.

I struggle with planning my future. I am constantly trying to plan for multiple versions of the future. The future where we surprisingly get pregnant right away with no complications. The future where our more lax approach to trying to conceive results in months before conceiving again. The future where I have three more subsequent first trimester losses. The future where we discover we will need expensive fertility treatments to carry a baby to term. The future where we decide to pursue adoption. The future where we exhaust all our options and decide to live out the rest of our lives, childless.

I am seeing a therapist now, and we often discuss what I would like to focus on until I have living children, or if I don't have living children. I'm good at coming up with half-hearted hobbies, but I can't imagine anything ever replacing that desire. We discuss advancing my career, but I'm apathetic. We discuss changing career paths, but I'm indecisive. We discuss going back to school, but I am unmotivated. What do you do with your time when what was meant to be the culminating moment of your life is taken away?

I love Liam. I always will. I will continue to grieve him for the rest of my life and to mother him forever. Those feelings are still deep and raw and real. But they are healing.

But that's not my only grief.

Friday, September 18, 2015


Why should I have to be the one made uncomfortable?

I have to listen to your comments, too. I have to answer your questions. You don't question whether asking if I have any children will make my heart sink. You don't think before you complain about your child's fussy behavior. You don't consider my feelings when you openly discuss the surprise pregnancy that's so inconvenient for you, or the fear you have of conceiving twins, or your newborn baby who was born on my stillborn son's due date.

You talk openly, without thinking. And maybe that's okay. These are your children. This is your pride and joy. Of course you want to share. And who am I to stop you?

But then--who are you to silence me?

What about my child? My pride and joy? What about when I want to share?

Why should I have to pause before mentioning my son's name? Why should I have to bite my tongue when my son's birthday or due date comes up in conversation? Why should I have to refrain from expressing my own complaints--that I have never had a fussy baby, that of three wanted conceptions none resulted in a living baby, that I have struggled to conceive a singleton and would be overjoyed if I found out I was miraculously expecting octuplets. That I should be announcing my newborn baby right now, too.

I am just as proud of the name we chose for him as you are of the name in your email announcement. I want to tell the story of his name as much as any parent. I am just as proud of my son's features as you are of the face in the photo attached. He has my husband's brow and my upper lip. I am just as proud that he was born, and I treasure his birthday just as you remember your children's births. I have a birth story to tell that to the right listener is more sweet than it is bitter.

I have a beautiful, wonderful son whom I adore. I have experienced intense heartbreak, but that does not phase my love for him. Why, when you ask me if I have children, should I be expected to lie to you?

To make you feel comfortable?

Why should I have to be the one made uncomfortable?

Isn't it enough that my baby died?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

My Baby Boy

From the very first day of this year I knew this day, Sept. 9, 2015 would be important.

I thought this was the day my baby would be due. I thought, if I wasn't holding him on this day, I'd be holding him very soon. And it's really easy to be angry that I'm not holding him now, and I won't be holding him soon. But I choose not to focus on that today.

I looked forward to today believing a lot of things would be different. But one thing hasn't changed. I thought that today I would love and adore my son, and I do.

I love him today, and I love him tomorrow, and I love him yesterday. I love him forever.

The love makes the anger sting a little less. I wish things could be different. But they can't be... and if they can't be... I don't want them to be.

My son is incredible. And beautiful. And magical. And I'm as proud of him as any other mother could be proud of her son. I wouldn't change anything about him. If he had to change in order to be here with me, I wouldn't ask him to do it. Of course, I wish the universe would somehow allow him to be here without anything changing, but that isn't possible...

Except that sometimes it is. Sometimes when Kam and I are driving to a family outing, and we're relaxed and enjoying ourselves, I just feel a sort of three-ness. He's with us somehow.

And occasionally, I feel like all three of us are happy about the same thing at the same time. Like over this past weekend, when we went to Bear Lake, and Kam was tubing with my cousin, Ryan, and I was in the boat holding Ryan's daughter on my lap because she was anxious about her dad being out in the water. As the boat sped up, I tried to cheer up his little girl by yelling, "Yay, Daddy!" as he got tossed around by the boat. But I was watching Kam making faces and laughing and taunting the boat driver and thinking of what a goofball of a dad he is, and I just thought Liam and I both were looking at him with love in our eyes and thinking, "Yay, Daddy!"

Today could have been a hard day. Maybe it even should have been a hard day. But instead, it's been an incredibly peaceful day. I've had the benefit of an entire day dedicated to remembering my son. And I've has the blessing of having many loving friends and family members remember him with me. Not even death can fully take Liam away. He will always be our baby, and in that way he will always be with us. Remembering him makes him feel closer. Thank you for remembering him with me.

Friday, September 4, 2015

August Update

I feel grief but not hopelessness. And that is an unexpected, but welcome change.

The past two weeks have been really hard. On top of normal stressors like Kam going back to school (I swear I have a melt down every time Kam has to go back to school) and the dogs getting into trouble, we've been getting confusing and disappointing news from the doctor every few days.

We had reasons to have hope, and then we had reasons to have that hope dashed.

But it isn't. In fact, I feel more hope now than I did two months ago, when all of this started. I have every reason to fear, to worry, to give up. And honestly, two of those three reactions come very naturally to me. But instead I feel peaceful.

Somehow I am still convinced good things are going to happen. Somehow I just know there's a miracle in store for us. I don't know what it is, or how it's coming, or even how I can still believe in it. But there it is in my heart anyway.

It's something like finding happiness in Liam's life even after he died. It comes more easily now, and it surprises me how much joy can come from having him even though he's not here with us. I don't know how it's even possible, and yet... I think of him and my heart rejoices more than it aches. The spot that longs for him quiets in knowing that he exists. It shouldn't be enough. Really, it isn't. But somehow, I'm surviving, and even more than that, I'm living even after he's gone.

It's been a long five months. We've gotten more than our share of bad news, and it seems like any more bad news should cause us to collapse in on ourselves. But somehow, we're bearing the weight.

But things are going to change. It's been a year of trying to get pregnant, being pregnant, or losing pregnancies. A year is a long time to be holding your breath for something. I can't hold my breath anymore.

This next year will be about Kam and Liam and I. It'll be about trying new things. And about rediscovering old things. It'll be about date nights and family projects. It'll be about dog parks and evening walks in the city. It'll be about resetting and recharging. It'll be about appreciating all of the things our little family has to enjoy right now.

I can't say my heart isn't still pained by everything we've been through in the past few months. But pain and joy aren't exclusive of eachother. In fact, most of the sources of pain the past few months have also brought me some measure of joy, Liam being the prime example. But even the trials of the past two weeks have brought me a renewed perspective I might otherwise have missed. It's hard to be grateful for the trials we have faced, but I am grateful for the blessings of peace and understanding that we've felt through these challenges. Being able to survive this at all is a miracle in itself.

We are grateful for everyone's prayers. I can say I've felt the effects of them. The peace I feel now is unnatural in the best way and I attribute a large part of that to your prayers.

Liam's due date is less than a week away. I look forward to celebrating his life that day and appreciate everyone who has shown support for that event. Remembering him is one of the most healing things I can do.

Thanks also goes to those who check for these updates in an effort to better understand how to help us. This post is for you.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Prayer on the Seashore

Last night I found myself awake and anxious at 2 am. Out of a mix of motives that was about 60% guilt, 30% habit, and 10% faith, I opened my scriptures with the intention of reading a couple verses before bed. I opened to the part of the Book of Mormon where the Jaredites are leaving for the promised land (America).

13 And now I proceed with my record; for behold, it came to pass that the Lord did bring Jared and his brethren forth even to that great sea which divideth the lands. And as they came to the sea they pitched their tents; and they called the name of the place Moriancumer; and they dwelt in tents, and dwelt in tents upon the seashore for the space of four years.
 14 And it came to pass at the end of four years that the Lord came again unto the brother of Jared, and stood in a cloud and talked with him. And for the space of three hours did the Lord talk with the brother of Jared, and chastened him because he remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord.
 15 And the brother of Jared repented of the evil which he had done, and did call upon the name of the Lord for his brethren who were with him. And the Lord said unto him: I will forgive thee and thy brethren of their sins; but thou shalt not sin any more, for ye shall remember that my Spirit will not always strive with man; wherefore, if ye will sin until ye are fully ripe ye shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. And these are my thoughts upon the land which I shall give you for your inheritance; for it shall be a land choice above all other lands. (Ether 2:13-15)
And my first thought was, "It must have sucked to be camping on the beach for four years." Seriously. Think about that. I dont care how much you like camping. Thats a lot of sand. "I wonder why they had to stay there so long. I wonder if it was because the Brother of Jared stopped praying? But why would he just stop praying then? He's in the middle of no where. I'm sure he wanted to leave. I'd be praying to get out of there!" And then I started thinking about myself, and what I've been doing, and I realized, "Maybe he started out praying, and the answer was always to stay on the beach. And stay on the beach. And stay on the beach. And Jared eventually got tired of asking and hearing that he needed to stay on the beach, so he stopped praying. But then when it was time to move, the Brother of Jared wasn't listening." And it hit me that I haven't been praying the way I should be. I've been praying some, but I haven't been turning to God with all of my problems. I've been turning to other sources looking for solutions, but I haven't had the faith to turn to God. I ask him for the one thing I want, but I haven't been talking to him about the little things, like how it's getting really sandy and I'm really missing a good shower right now.
So I decided to forget all about the way prayers normally sound and just pour my heart out to God... The fear, the hurt, the frustration. I told him what I really wanted, and what I missed, and what I thought I should have had. I told him how I didn't understand...
Specifically, I told him how I don't understand faith. Why am I responsible to act on things I can't know are true? Why do the heavens need to be hidden from us? And if I do have faith that God exists, and Liam exists, which I do, what's the purpose of separating us? If he's really not that far away, and I believe that he's there, why can't I see him, or be with him? Why does it have to be this way?
And then the one prayer I am always saying broke through in the very end. My prayer that I will have another baby and that I won't have to lose that one. But this time the prayer was completely different. Before there had always been part of my heart that was saying, "God, you better not dare take another baby away from me. How could you have done that. You better not try that again. I deserve better." But now my heart was broken. I was just too exhausted for pride or anger. I was just a child crying. Please. I don't think I can bear it. Please don't make me go through that again.
Around that time I started to feel some peace. I felt vague answers to my questions, not quite in words that I could understand, but more like in a feeling that washed over me and filled in the holes that my questions left, at least temporarily. It wasn't a warm fuzzy feeling, necessarily. But it was peaceful. And it allowed me to fall asleep. I think the only reason I stopped praying was because I started feeling that peaceful sleep fall over me.
This morning, I woke up to find this scripture.
But behold, I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart. Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction. (Jacob 3:1)
I may not know everything about faith, but I do know that I was consoled in my afflictions last night, and I believe God does plead my cause. Even when he knows our righteous desires can't be answered in the way we want right now, He feels our disappointment and grief, and He weeps with us. He is always on our side. I know my Heavenly Father loves me, even though I'm sometimes stubborn and refuse to admit it when I don't get what I want. And even despite that, He loves me. His silly, rebellious spiritual two year old of a daughter. If I can't understand anything else, I'm glad I can at least understand that.
And even though I'm not sure what the future holds, I feel Heavenly Father smiling, like a father about to hand over a birthday present he knows his daughter will enjoy, and I feel him saying, "Sweetheart. I know you're going to love this. Just wait until you see what I have for you."
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? (Matthew 7:11)

Monday, August 10, 2015


People always talk about how being a parent means sacrificing for your children. I sometimes feel real comfort from that because I feel like the only thing I've been allowed to do for my son is sacrifice.

I sacrificed the time I spent being pregnant. I sacrificed my body by giving birth to him. I sacrificed my innocence by being there for him after his death.

But there's one sacrifice that I still struggle to give. I notice it most when I'm praying for other parents.

I plead with God for other parents. Don't let them go through what I've gone through. Aren't the statistics supposed to be one in one hundred or something like that?* Doesn't that mean that because I had to go through this, ninety nine more babies should live? Can't theirs be one of them?

Please, just let their baby live.

But, because I know, I always have to end my prayers with, "But if he doesn't, please just let them be okay."

And I know they will be. I know that God allows you to survive that even though you think you shouldn't be able to. Somehow you do. That's the sad miracle God grants parents like us.

Thankfully, that's not the only miracle. The real miracle is the same reason why I know not every baby I pray for will live. It's the sacrifice I mentioned.

It's that my son is well. I hate clichés, and although it's true that he's in a better place, that he's where he's meant to be... how can a mother believe any place is better for her baby than in her own arms? This is what I struggle with. But I do believe it, somehow. He is safe. He is taken care of. He is happy. He is better off--not without me, because he'll never be without me, but outside of this world. He is protected from the muk of the earth and he is needed where he stands. He is where he needs to be, and my sacrifice is to allow him to be there and send him my love and support.

I struggle. Sometimes I feel like I can handle it for myself, but I can't stand to see other mothers and fathers join us. This weekend, I attended a memorial service for an acquaintance's son who lived only two hours. It was a beautiful service that reminded me why each of our sons had to leave us so early. But my heart still breaks to know a portion of that couple's pain.

The difficult part of sacrifice is understanding full well why you need to do it... and still not wanting to. I feel selfish asking God to let these babies live just so that those of us waiting for them won't have to hurt so badly. I am a mother. I know I would make the sacrifice for my son, and any of these other mothers would make the same sacrifice. I don't mean to suggest that they would not or could not do it. So I have to acknowledge that if it has to be that way, please, God, just care for them. Because I know they could do it. But please, please, God, just don't ask them to.

*Regarding a stillbirth like Liam's. Sadly, this doesn't include the statistics of infant death, or the heartbreakingly high rates of miscarriages.