balloons and ashes

One of H’s cousins went through a similar loss as ours, pPROM at 18 weeks and then the birth of her tiny daughter two weeks or so later. When we met over Christmas, one of the things she said that stayed with me was that she found it so terrible having to leave the baby in the hospital, instead of taking it home to bury it in the garden.*

We don’t have a garden, but that moment of having to leave the room with my babies to never see them again on this earth was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. We had a wonderful nurse that did everything she could to make it a little easier for us, but of course, it was still hard.

We had decided relatively quickly to have the girls cremated. The social worker had given us a list of mortuaries. Calling them was hard, especially since the receptionist at the first place asked why I was calling after I had given him a summary of the situation. But at the next place I got a lovely woman on the phone, who immediately expressed her condolences and gave me what seemed like a reasonable quote, but said that she’d talk with her supervisor to see if they could do it for less. Ten minutes later, she called me back to tell me they could cremate our daughters for 250$.**

I initially dreaded not just the call but also the visit and the paperwork, and halfheartedly considered asking friends to do it for us. But I’ve come to realize that this was one of the few things we were actually able to do as A & C’s parents. We won’t ever get to write notes as for why they didn’t go to school last Monday, but, hard as it was, we got to arrange their cremation. Because we are their parents.

They really tried to make the paperwork as easy as possible for us. Getting all the names correct was important – after all, these were among the few official documents we’d ever get with their names in print. H and I have different last names, and the girls have his. “Usually the babies are under the mom’s name”, she said. Do you know what’s wrong with this sentence? “Usually”. There shouldn’t be anything usual about this.

A week or so later, I went back to pick up the ashes. With the nomad scientist life, finding a suitable permanent place for them seemed difficult. We decided to scatter their ashes at sea – we both love the sea, and after a while they will be “close to” us in all sorts of places across the world. I sobbed when I got into the car. I didn’t want to scatter my children’s ashes, I wanted them here with me, alive. H repeatedly said we didn’t have to go. Once I had calmed down, we drove down the coast and found a bay between two banks of fog. The water felt like it was freezing cold. We stayed to say goodbye, and then to watch a beautiful sunset.

I’m not sure why these memories are coming up so vividly now. Perhaps because we are considering a beach vacation, and the beach, like so many other things, now reminds me of my daughters?

When we left the ER recently, we passed the gift store, and H said he had been hoping so much that the next time he’d be in the hospital he’d be able to go into that store and buy a little present for me and our child. I was already pregnant again, and hopeful that we’ll bring this little one home, but that showed me how hard it is for him. Peering through the window, we considered which of the balloons*** he could get us, come November.

* She had her first child without any problems, and later brought home another daughter after getting a cerclage in the 2nd trimester (by choice, it wasn’t clear what caused the pPROM, but she did get her rainbow baby, which is the most important part).

** I have since heard that some places take care of stillborns for free. It’s not so much about the number for me though. I think any form of supporting parents in this terrible situation is more appreciated than we may be able to express in that moment.

*** I have never had or bought one of these huge colorful printed balloons, but we’re so ready to celebrate that a smiley-flower or a gigantic butterfly seem appropriate. I so hope we’ll get there.

E is for embryo

E thawed well, with all his or her 10 cells, and was transferred this morning. By the same doctor that did our transfer with A & C, who remembered us and expressed his hope that I’ll get pregnant again, but with a better outcome this time. E did show more fragmentation than A & C, but I hope it’ll develop into a beautiful baby regardless:


I took it easy for the rest of the day (my clinic doesn’t believe in bed rest) – napping, knitting on a bench outside, then lying and just enjoying the weather (ok, you may envy me for this one). I have some light cramping, but it seems that may be normal. I went to my post-transfer acupuncture appointment but was quite relaxed even on the way there. I think I was worried that for some reason the transfer wouldn’t happen, so now I’m glad we made it. Work will keep me busy for the next few days, which may be a good thing (though I plan to spend most of that time sitting down listening to other people).

Here’s something we came across on a recent afternoon stroll. I’m taking it as a good sign:


long distance

Our plan for Christmas was to stay here and wait for the babies to be born. Even with a late February due date, a transatlantic flight did not seem like a good idea for this time. Now that everything turned out so differently from what we hoped, we’re back to the question of to stay or to go – or to go somewhere else entirely. And it is not easy.

After A and C were born, both H’s parents and my dad offered to come. We declined. We felt that we’d need time for just the two of us. Our apartment is small. Given the distance they’d stay for at least 2 weeks*, and that just seemed more than what we could handle.

But of course they need to grieve as well, and they want to comfort us. We’ve been talking and emailing, which I think has helped everyone, at least most of the time**.

We’ve thought about flying over for Christmas. It might help us process the experience some more, it might help them, and perhaps we could begin the new year with hope for new things to come. Not that we’ll ever forget A & C, but we would like to be hopeful again.

But then there is the high potential for more insensitive comments. On my side of the family, Christmas is a difficult time to begin with – our family cohesion has really suffered after my mom’s death, one of my siblings isn’t even coming home any more because of a quarrel with my dad’s wife, and this whole situation doesn’t lead to happiness under the tree.

We’ve thought about going to Hawaii instead. We certainly need a vacation, and one for just the two of us. But somehow this doesn’t feel right either. We worry we might not be able to enjoy it, between the loss of A & C and neglecting our families back in our home country. Plus, it’s much harder to look over other people’s big baby bellies in a bikini than it is when they’re underneath thick winter coats…

We could just stay here, of course. That would be a very lonely and sad Christmas. Which somehow feels the most appropriate – but it probably isn’t helpful when thinking about healing, about becoming hopeful again.

Now we actually bought flights – on somewhat inconvenient dates, but those were the least outrageous prices. When we made the decision we figured we’d be sad wherever we were, so we might as well try and make our families a bit happier. Yet, booking these flights released much more raw sadness than I expected – on the last trip (less than two months ago!) we were so confident that the next one would be with our babies. It is so hard to face the reality that this won’t be the case. And as soon as we had bought the tickets we doubted it had been the right decision. And we’re still in that undecided spot. Haven’t even told our families about the tickets. We don’t want to go, we don’t want to stay… the one thing we would want is, sadly, impossible.

* I imagine my dad might actually just stay for a few days, but the inviting one party and not the other would have led to jealousy and other complicated feelings that we didn’t want, either.
** MIL, who is devastated by our loss, has made a number of really insensitive comments – apparently it is not obvious that someone else’s pregnancy announcement is not what we need in the week after our babies’ death.

a random collection of nervous bullets

  • Over the weekend I thought I might go back to some of the regular yoga exercises I had been doing previously, after two weeks of fertility yoga. Except on Monday morning I felt queasy, and on Tuesday it was pretty much all-day queasiness. My innards remind me of an active volcano, considering eruption (although fortunately so far nothing has actually happened yet). So I’m sticking with the laid-back version that just gives an extra Good Morning serving of oxygen to all my cells and embryos, and some sanity to me.
  • My tight pants are too tight.
  • H is getting increasingly worried about twins. The other day he threw two 20-sided dice – 2 and 2 came up. I keep telling him we haven’t even made it across the 50% barrier of getting pregnant at all, although I have to admit that I’m really hopeful at this point.
  • I saw some cute shoes downtown. H asked to see them online. I had to laugh when I saw their name.

it’s official

Sometime around a year ago, on our honeymoon, I stopped taking my bcps which I’d been on since the endo surgery and treatment. Despite my history, I was kind of disappointed not to get pregnant in the first couple of months. Ordered Taking Charge of Your Fertility, started to chart, made an appointment with my doctor. Now, 12 months later, I still haven’t seen a BFP, but I hope very much that this has little predictive value for the future.

The conference was great, although they didn’t have hot milk for my understanding of “coffee”, and alcohol was spare. Oh well, scientifically and socially it was really nice. My husband participated in some special event, and a guy was asking him if his wife was the one that was expecting (there were several pregnant women around — I successfully avoided them). He answered that I’d like to be but unfortunately wasn’t, which I found sweet.

I try to be glad for the things that do work. There is sperm, even if not all of it is swimming properly. I do ovulate, even fairly regularly. The progesterone keeps my LPD under control. EWCM is there, lining is built up fine. But, with all that looking ok and 12+ cycles of trying, I’m getting a bit frustrated. What is wrong here? Do we just need more time? Less stress? (well possible given our work situations)

Or should we move on to more testing? I’ll be travelling a lot in August and have 3 deadlines for September. And we’ll probably move next year. International if not transatlantic. Not a great time to be pregnant or have a tiny baby. But, given our success rate from the previous year, I’m not planning to stop trying. However, we won’t start any big treatment plans either. If it happens naturally, great (and then we’ll sort out all the difficulties of moving, changing employer and insurance while pregnant somehow), if not, sigh.


Thanks for all your opinions on the coffee. I’m glad I’m not the only one that wants to enjoy such a kind of treat every now and then (which may or may not be every afternoon — though I can go for days without, provided that I sleep enough), even if it’s not what the it-can-all-happen-naturally experts recommend and when the scientific data is unclear at best.
On Tuesday I went back for another u/s. The follicle was still there, but “ready to burst”, as my doc said. Lining looking good, EWCM** at the cervix. And that it was a good day to make a baby. Well, if that’s not a motivation ;) My temps even obliged and rose (somewhat) the next day, and strongly another day later, actually higher than I’ve ever seen them before. So at least we should have good chances (assuming there are no other issues like blocked tubes or what-not). Of course I’m now getting scared that high hopes will lead to a deeper fall… but I can’t help it.
The next week will include a big event, one I’ve been working towards for four years, which should keep me distracted for much of the 2ww. Not enough not to obsess about possible sore breasts* or other symptoms, probably.

* In one of my first charted cycles I had really, really sore breasts from about 5 or 6dpo on. Sore as in cannot-walk-down-the-stairs-without-hurting-sore. And got hopeful. But then LPD kicked in and that was that…
My hope is that I was/would have been pregnant that cycle (timing was really good) meaning that we can get pregnant ourselves… a girl can hope, right?

** ETA: what I found interesting is that the follicle was still there, though I was feeling “dry” already — I have EWCM for days after ovulation (or, more accurately, after my temps rise), so it’s not a very good indicator whether I have ovulated already or not, and with the dryness I actually had assumed that the egg might be gone already.