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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A little insulting and insensitive

Since losing Jenna, I have become quite a debater on several different Web sites concerning abortion. I also sold my story to an online Web site and am working to find other avenues to get the word out about what happened to me.

I have received support from many, even those who are pro-life. I've been thanked by many who are totally supportive of my stance. I've even changed a few minds about abortion when a baby has no chance or very little chance to survive. Some might not support the decision to abort in this instance, but at least, they can understand.

And then, there are those people who will never change their minds, who think abortion is always wrong, that some things in life are black and white or right or wrong across the board, and abortion will never be the answer.

It's people in the latter category who are usually insulting and insensitive and sometimes, just down right stupid. I can't tell you how many times I've heard that God gives life and God decides when to take it away. I wonder how many of these people would remove their child from life support if they were brain dead. Wouldn't it be the same thing? Wouldn't they be deciding when the life ended? Some of them had said maybe God lead them to that decision, meaning he used them to end the life. Have they ever thought maybe God is leading all those families to abortion when parents receive a poor prenatal diagnosis?

Another response I have to read from people is "Doctors and tests can be wrong. My mom, aunt, granny, sister (friend, cousin, my brother's friend's aunt's cousin) received a poor prenatal diagnosis and that baby was perfect. The tests were wrong."

First of all, amniocentesis are 99.98 percent accurate. Mistakes just aren't made. If an amnio says your baby has one of these disorders, the baby has it. Of course, the AFP test produces a lot of false positives, and ultrasounds are notorious for showing soft markers, even when nothing is wrong. However, no one I know would even think of aborting due to the AFP or just an ultrasound. For that matter, no doctor I know would ever suggest it based on those test results.

Second of all, I have never seen or read about anyone receiving a poor prenatal diagnosis from an amnio then having a healthy baby. I did a lot of research about that after our amnio came back, trying to give myself hope, but the amnio is final, it's right, and it's accurate. One more time, repeat after me, amniocentesis results are accurate. I would really like to scream this one from the rooftops.

I've also been told that those who aborted due to a poor prenatal diagnosis should have waited and prayed for a miracle. Seriously, do you know insulting this is? I'm not really a Christian anymore, but I was so desperate I prayed for a miracle. My family members, who are Christians, prayed for us. We were on prayer lists all over town. Anytime anyone heard our story, I was told they were praying for me. When people tell me I shouldn't have even thought about aborting and should have just prayed and waited for a miracle, it's extremely insulting, because I didn't get a miracle.

It makes me feel as though they are saying God decided we weren't worthy enough to receive a miracle or that we should have prayed more. I would like to ask them if they were diagnosed with cancer would they just pray and wait on a miracle. Of course, if I were to say that, I would get the old standard, test results can be wrong. I would also hear, "This is different." Of course it is. Most cancers are curable (not all, and I know that), but Trisomy 18 can't be cured at all and it's incompatible with long life.

I have also been directed numerous times to a video about a little boy named Eliot, who was diagnosed with Trisomy 18. He lived for 99 days. If anyone wants to see the video, it is available at

I watched this video for the first time while we were waiting on our amnio results. I was incredibly touched by his story. I was moved to tears, and I was truly glad they were able to have 99 days with their precious son. It is an especially moving story, and I love that they have put out this video, especially to get the word out about Trisomy 18.

However, the entire time I was watching the video, the thought running through my mind was, "I can't do that. I just can't." I knew I wasn't strong enough or brave enough to watch my child slowly die. I admire Eliot's parents for having that kind of strength, but I didn't have it in me. I knew I couldn't do it.

My first problem with people directing me to watch it is that it's insulting to me. I respect his parents' rights to make healthcare choices for their child. I'm thankful they were able to make the best decision for their family. But, I should have been able to make that same decision for my child and so should any other family in Tennessee and other states with restrictive laws. Ending the pregnancy was what would have been best for our family, just as carrying to term was the right choice for Eliot's family and many others. I respect their choice, and I would just like to receive the same kind of respect from those who direct me to watch this video.

My second problem is that it's insensitive. I wonder if these people would direct a family who turned off life support to a video of another family who didn't do so, so they could see how much joy those final days bring. I'm sure most people wouldn't. They would think it was insensitive and would respect their grief enough not to do so. So, why should they direct me to this video?

I've seriously developed a tougher skin since I started the debating about abortion, but the things I talk about above really do bother me.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I've never been a fan of Mariah Carey, but last night, I was watching American Idol and Danny Gokey sang her song, "Hero." He said when he sang it he thought of people going through hard times and overcoming it. He lost his wife about four weeks before he auditioned for the show.

As I listened to the song, I was overcome by tears. The lyrics just hit me. Since we lost Jenna, I've hated it when people tell me that I'm strong. I didn't take it as a compliment at all. I took it to mean that they thought I wasn't grieving enough or feeling enough pain, because I sure didn't feel strong.

It was the chorus that got to me. For anyone who doesn't know the song, it says, "And then a hero comes along, with the strength to carry on, and you cast your fears aside and you know you can survive, So when you feel like hope is gone, look inside you and be strong, and you'll finally see the truth, that a hero lies in you."

Even though I didn't feel strong, now, looking back, I know I was. I could have buckled under and allowed my world to crumble, because I really wanted to do so. Somewhere, deep down, I found the strength to go on, taking Tessa to kindergarten two days after Jenna was born, going back to work two weeks later, withstanding the whole humiliating experience in Atlanta. I did that. No one else did. I didn't rely on other people to do things for me. I couldn't. I had to put one foot in front of the other and keep walking through all of the pain.

As much as I appreciated and needed the support and leaned on it, my friends and family couldn't make me go on. I had to do that myself. I looked inside me and found the strength, even though I really did feel like all my hope was gone. I could have let Jenna's death define me, but instead, I allowed it to change me, to make me see I am strong enough to overcome anything.

And, you know what, I'm proud of myself. I am proud I made it through the terrible things that happened to me. I am proud I am standing up for other women to keep them from going through what I did, and maybe one day, I can be a hero to someone else.

My granny was my hero, the strongest women I've ever met. Someone once described her as a "teabag," meaning she gets stronger as the water she's in gets hotter. I'm beginning to think I might be like that, too.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Feeling extremely bitter

My temperature dropped below coverline this morning, so I am definitely not pregnant. I'm sure I'll start my period tomorrow. This was my second cycle on Clomid, but we have been trying to conceive four cycles since we lost Jenna. I think one of my fears is going to come true -- we aren't going to be able to get pregnant again.

I'm feeling very bitter toward teenage mothers, pregnant crack addicts and just about anyone who gets pregnant easily. I know their pregnancy does not affect my ability to get pregnant. It's not like there's a shortage of babies, and because they're pregnant, that's one less baby for me. Logically, I know all that, but it's still not fair.

It's not fair that I have to get up every morning at 7 a.m., to take my temperature and then go pee on a stick for my fertility monitor. It's not fair that we have to schedule sex -- every other day when I get a high on my monitor and every day when I get a peak. I shouldn't have to take Clomid to get pregnant. It makes me gain weight, be bitchy, have hot flashes and terrible, terrible migraines, but I take it because I want another baby. And, you know, I don't have it anywhere near as bad as some women who have to give themselves shots or go for IUIs or do in vitro. And there are some who have no chance at all of having another baby, no matter what they do. I can't imagine what they go through.

Women who can get pregnant easily should thank their lucky stars and realize how fortunate they are not to have to go through all of this. Each month is like a little heartbreak all over again. Each month reminds me that I should have a baby in my arms, a baby that should be growing and learning new things, but is instead dead.

I'm tired of being infertile. Does anyone want to change bodies with me for a while, say for nine months until I have a healthy baby? I would give anything to have to worry about not getting pregnant for a while like most people.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Testing too early

Why do I do this to myself? I've been having some symptoms, nausea, a little cramping and exhaustion, so I was excited about testing, so excited that I couldn't wait until cycle day 14. So, I tested yesterday at 10 DPO and got a BFN. The box had several tests in it so I tested again this morning at 11 DPO and got another BFN.

So, now I'm wondering if today was still too early. Last night, I saw a teeny tiny baby at Wal-Mart, and my heart just ached to hold one of my own. Tessa keeps begging us to have her a sibling. I know she's tired of being an only child.

I'm trying not to lose hope but that's kind of hard. Can you get a BFN at 11 DPO and still be pregnant?

Monday, February 9, 2009

I didn't even cry when I held Jenna

Six months ago, I was still pregnant. In fact, if you go by the day of the week, we found out on a Monday that she died, and she was born on Tuesday. Since the actual number dates are on Wednesday and Thursday, I thought I could spend the next few days blogging about this.

Something has haunted me since Jenna died. I didn't even cry when I held Jenna. I looked over her body, being very careful not hurt her skin which was very fragile. I wanted to look under her cap, but the nurse recommended against it. I'll go more into that a little later.

For months I was filled with guilt over that, over the fact that I didn't break down over her dead body and thought others were judging me for it, too. I felt so guilty that I didn't take very long to hold her either. I just couldn't. Delivery hadn't been very kind to her. A muscle in her leg had already torn, and because her brain and skull hadn't developed, her head collapsed. The nurses did the best they could to keep me from seeing it, but I knew something was wrong with her head. I couldn't bring myself to ask about it. My aunt and momma took pictures of her with the little cap on and off, and when I could bring myself to look at them, I did and I cried then.

I had held it all together at the hospital, only breaking down once. Brian broke down in the nurses' arms. I'm not even sure what they had been talking about, but she hugged him and he clung to her like a little boy who hadn't seen his momma in ages. Everyone in the room cried over that one. My mom came up and wrapped her arms around his back, since his own mom COULDN'T (yes, she could have been but she chose not to) be there to comfort him. My aunt came and put her arms around me.

I wasn't alone at the hospital very much at all. I was also pretty well drugged up. They allowed me to have as much as I could safely. So, maybe that contributed to me not crying in the hospital.

However, as we were leaving the hospital with an angel figurine, a packet of photographs of my dead baby and information about support groups for women who have had later term losses instead of my baby girl, I broke down after I got out of the wheelchair and into the front seat. I looked back and saw Tessa's old car seat, one that goes from five pounds to 40. We still had it in the car even though she had moved onto a booster seat. We were going to use it for the new baby. As soon as we pulled away, the tears started, the kind that rocks your body and won't let up. I cried because I was sad she was gone. I cried because I was happy she wasn't in pain anymore. I cried because Tessa was never going to get to see. I cried that my little baby was being transported to a funeral home to be cremated. It just hit me so hard.

Looking back at that time, I know I was just numb in the hospital. Part of me was relieved that it was over, and my desperation to keep her out of as much pain as we could was over. I know when they placed her in my arms, all those emotions just built up and built up and built up and instead of letting it out, I bottled it in, just like I did in the weeks before when people asked me how I was, what I was going to do, what exactly Trisomy 18 is, etc. I couldn't very well break down in front of those people, many of whom were just asking to be nice. I would be numb all day until Brian and Tessa were asleep, and then, I'd loose it and sob, biting my fist to keep from being so loud. I didn't want Tessa to see me that way, and Brian was having to deal with his own grief and trying to help me through mine. He didn't need to see me, the usual strong one, breaking down.

He was great in the car that day. He just held my hand. He asked if I wanted him to pull over. He even offered to go buy a pack of cigarettes if I wanted one, knowing I hadn't smoked in years. I didn't want a cigarette or anything like that. Suddenly, he pulled off the side of the road, put his arms around me and just let me cry. I guess being together almost 13 years means something when he knew exactly what I wanted.

So, in all honestly, I really have spent the last six months feeling guilty for not crying while holding her small still body in arms. I've felt like I didn't love her enough or something. I still feel guilty about it, but I'm planning to spend the next six months working on getting rid of that guilt, the illogical guilt of feeling as though I did something to cause her to have Trisomy 18, the guilt I felt for not saying goodbye early and ending her pain earlier, the guilt for wanting to terminate at all and any and every other pieces of guilt I've felt since July of last year when we received the diagnosis. That's the goal of the next six months.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Do you believe in ghosts?

Last night, I made candied carrots for supper, and I had to call my aunt to ask her a question about one of the ingredients. This was the aunt who lived with my granny and took care of her while she was sick.

Later, after we had eaten, I talked to my mom, and she said we needed to decide where we were going to eat for our usual Friday night dinner. When we hung up, I decided to call my aunt, tell her how the carrots turned out and ask about where we could go eat. I dialed the number, and my granny's voice answered the phone. I know it was my granny's voice. I would know it anywhere. I almost dropped the phone.

I finally recovered enough to ask to speak to my aunt, and she said, "I reckon you dialed the wrong number." That's the way my granny always said it when someone called her with the wrong number. I know my granny's voice, and I know it was hers.

I hung up the phone. It gives me the option to hit redial to show what the last number I dialed was. It was my granny's number. It's been her number for 27 years, and now it's my aunt's. I turned the phone back on and hit redial again. It went right through to my aunt's line.

My aunt and mom said Granny must have wanted to talk to me. I'm wondering if she was trying to tell me something, that I'm wrong about something or have the wrong number somehow. I don't know. I know this sounds crazy, but I know it was her. She was trying to talk to me.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Probably not going to be our month again

I got a peak on my fertility monitor on Monday and Tuesday, which means if you want to conceive, you should have sex those days. We didn't.

We did the dance late Sunday/early Monday (I know you all wanted to know that), but on Monday, Brian came down with a cold and just didn't feel like it. I figured we would still have last night to do so, but I layed down with Tessa and fell asleep myself.

I know I still have a chance because of when we did the last time, but I just don't see it happening. Next month is my break month, and then we're going to do Clomid one more time.

If we don't get pregnant, we are going to turn our spare room into my office. Yesterday, we purchased a new laptop, a desk, printer and chair to set up a home office. Right now, it's in the corner in the living room, and I will gladly keep it there if it means I'm pregnant this cycle.

Here's my chart if anyone wants to take look. I just don't see it happening this cycle. Fertility Friend hasn't given me my crosshairs or my coverline yet, but it will.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Harry Potter and JK Rowling

I've been thinking lately of writing a letter to JK Rowling. One of the things that got me through our ordeal over the summer was being able to read the Harry Potter series.

I had just started re-reading the series when I had my appointment at 16 weeks and had blood drawn to do the AFP test. I can vividly remember putting Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in my purse while the tech got everything ready to stick me.

I had Prisoner of Azakaban with me when we went into to have the level 2 ultrasound done. We had to wait a while because there had been an emergency, and I read most of it while sitting there. It helped to take my mind off what we might find out.

The day of our amnio, I had Goblets of Fire with me. I was so nervous, I was barely able to breathe, but reading the book kept me a little calmer than I would have been otherwise. It was like I was submerged in a world that wasn't my own. My world then wasn't something I could handle and didn't want to be in.

After the AFP test results came back, while waiting to have the amnio and then waiting on those results to come back, I had trouble sleeping. A lot of that time was spent researching the Internet for information on Trisomy 18, but when it was time for bed, I grabbed the Harry Potter book I was reading then. It relaxed me enough so that I could sleep. After we received the diagnosis of Trisomy 18, those books saved my sanity.

I took Order of the Phoenix with me to Atlanta. I took it to the abortion clinic with me. I could have chosen any book in the world to take with me to what was the scariest and worst experience of my entire life, but I chose Harry Potter. I was scared to death of what I was about to do and go through, but the book kept me calm. I read it after they told me there had been a mistake with my weight. I kept my eye on the book the entire time the waiting room was filling up with women who wanted to end their healthy pregnancies. I think being able to read the book kept me from yelling at them and telling them I would take their babies.

I kept reading, after they weighed me, while I was waiting on the ultrasound tech to come in and while I was waiting on the counselor. I needed that book to help me escape. After we were told we couldn't terminate and we went back to the hotel, I read the book until I fell asleep.

I took Half Blood Prince with me to the ultrasound where we were told Jenna had died, and it went to the hospital with me that night. After I came home, I finished the series. One of the things I picked up from the books is that death is not the worst thing in the world in some circumstances, which was true for what I was going through. Sometimes I wonder if those who are so against medical terminations don't realize that. One of my favorite quotes from the Sorceror's Stone is "To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure."

Jenna's world would have been pain-filled, and death was the better option for her. In Order of the Phoenix, Voldemort tells Dumbledore there is nothing worse than death. Dumbledore tells him he is wrong and then says, "Indeed, your failure to understand that there are things much worse than death has always been your greatest weakness..." I hope people can come to understand that many of us who wanted to say goodbye early wanted to do so because we think the kind of life our child would have under those circumstances is so much worse than death.

JK Rowling probably receives hundreds of thousands of letters a week, so if I did write to her, I doubt she would see it. Besides, how do you tell someone the series they created out of their mind saved your sanity? I'm not sure if I could put my gratitude into words. She was my writing hero before this summer because I wished I could create stories as well as she does, but she and her writing became my saving grace when I was going through the worst event of my life.