Thursday, July 18

Getting personal

Let's get personal, cyber friends.  Sorry in advance; this post is wordy and without photos.  I think I just need to purge a little...

Biff has 2 children from a previous marriage (Emily, 14 & Joe, 12).  They live with their mom in Washington and are the sole reason we moved to Seattle just over 2 years ago to try and make a life there.  They're great.  I mean, for the most part, they are reeeeeally good kids.  And I do enjoy having them in my life.  Actually, I wish they were MORE a part of our lives. But sadly (sad to be away from the kids; happy for every other reason), we are back in LA and our visits with them are far too infrequent.

The distance makes forging any type of real relationship with the kids a bit more challenging.  And then of course, there's the fact that they're in their pre-teen/teen years and have no interest in talking on the phone with us whatsoever.  I bring to the table my own full set of baggage/experience, having grown up with step parents myself; I'm constantly putting myself in their shoes, assuming I know how they're feeling.  I have to remember that their situation isn't mine.   I know I have an opportunity to do things differently this time and am very aware of the role I wish to play in their lives.  I'm hopeful that, in time, they'll realize that I'm not only on their team but am also head cheerleader. They are special people and little slices of their father; and I love when I catch glimpses of him in them.

Let's face it though.  Being a stepmom is quite different than being a mother.  Of course, it's wonderful when the stepmom in the scenario is thought of as a second mom, a "bonus mom" if you will (I love that term btw), to her husband's children.  But, it's still not quite the same, now is it?  And being a mother is something I've longed for for as long as I can remember.

We decided we wanted to add to our family and right away, even when we were engaged, started trying to have a baby.  Sadly, after months of trying, tests confirmed our fears.  We were told that the likelihood of us conceiving naturally was slim to none.  It's hard to put into words how devastating that news was.  At the time, it was like someone hit me in the chest.  Biff was out of town working when the doctor called with my results.  I remember it clear as day.  I was standing in the kitchen when I picked up the phone.  I heard the news and I fell backward into a chair.  It was like the wind was knocked out of me.

In a two minute conversation my whole world was turned upside down, stomped on, crushed.  I couldn't breath.  I began asking questions.  Ridiculous questions.  But I was in problem solving mode... Are you sure?  I don't understand.  My grandmother had my uncle when she was 42? Okay, so what's next?  Is there medication? Should we go straight to IUI then?  No, the doctor said.  That won't work for you.  And then she said words that have really stuck with me.  "I'm not saying that you can't get pregnant, Bridgette.  I'm saying that you most likely won't get pregnant with your own eggs."

I started to cry.  

The rest of the quick conversation is a bit of a blur.  I remember her saying that she was sorry she didn't have better news but that if we wanted the possibility of having biological children that we would have to act fast.  That we should contact a reproductive endocrinologist immediately.


I always thought I'd be a mother.  I do remember going through a phase though, in my late 30's before I met my husband, where I really tried coming to terms with the possibility that maybe I wouldn't meet "my guy" and that I might not have kids.  Back then, I claimed to be okay with the idea, that I'd travel a bunch, that I'd focus on my career and make a lot of money and then spend it on whatever I wanted...that I'd be care free.

Yeah right.  If I'm going to be truthful with myself and with you though, I was totally faking it back then.  I just didn't realize how very much I wanted to be a mother until I fell in love with my husband.  The thought of having a little piece of him and a little piece of me? I wanted it so badly.  

Around this time, things got pretty dark for me.  We had made a hasty decision to move to Seattle and after 6 months of struggling to find work and start a life there, we decided to move back to LA.  We got back here the last week of December in 2011.

That January, we scrambled to put together every last penny we had and met with a specialist. We started our first cycle of IVF later that month and amazingly, we got pregnant!  With IVF you're monitored much more than you are in a traditional pregnancy so I was seeing the specialist 2-3 times per week.  The pregnancy numbers were a little low but growing and we were full of hope.  Sadly though, the day we went in to hear the heartbeat, we were told that the embryo had stopped growing.  They couldn't explain it but we were told we were going to miscarry.  What???  Why?  I'm not bleeding. No cramping. No signs that anything is wrong.  Are you sure????  Yes; we're sure.

But then I didn't miscarry.  Another week went by.  No bleeding.  No cramping.  I went back to the doctor.  Are you positive???   Yes; we're positive.

Another week passed and still nothing though.  The doctor had to help the miscarriage along the following week.   I'll spare you the details but it was an incredibly painful and all-around horrible experience.   

Darkness swept over me.  I was having to go to work everyday and put on a happy face but inside, I was dying.  I went deep underground to lick my wounds and didn't really surface socially for months.  We had kept the IVF news pretty quiet so not many people really knew what was going on until quite a bit of time had passed.

As with most things, thank goodness, time heals.  Biff and I laid low and worked through our sadness together.  And then last October we took a belated honeymoon trip to Spain.  It was wonderful.  I finally felt like myself again.  We had been trapped in our very own private hell but we had made it to the other side.  I felt really happy.

That's when I was time to try again.

We met with the specialists again in November of last year.  In December 2012 we started a new cycle of IVF and on Christmas morning I had egg retrieval surgery.  Yep.  Christmas day.  What better day for a miracle, right!?  They did the transplant 3 days later and yes!  We were pregnant! 

I felt great.  Healthy.  Happy.  So excited.  Our numbers were much stronger this time; the embryo was growing and right on target.  It came time to see the heartbeat and there it was!!  We even captured it on film.  It was amazing. 

The next week, or maybe it was two weeks later, we went back to the doctor for another ultrasound.  That was when, again with no explanation, we were told that the heartbeat was gone.  They told us that we were going to miscarry.

All of those same horrible feelings came flooding in.  It was all so very devastating the first time.  This last time though, it was even harder because we knew that we wouldn't be trying IVF for a third time.  It's just not an option financially for us and really, for whatever reason, my body is just not responding well. 

Again, the miscarriage didn't happen right away.  Again, it was all so very very horrible.

I knew that in order to some how some way recover from this devastating blow, I was going to have to find a way to let this dream of mine go.  The dream of having a biological child with Biff.  I'm not going to lie.  There have been some mighty dark days.  They come and go though.

I have friends and family with the most beautiful children.  And I adore them all and I love being their Auntie.  But I'm human and sometimes I just want to cry out to God or to whomever will listen and ask WHY???  WHY NOT ME???  Am I not deserving?  Tell me WHY!!!

Aaaaaaah... But I guess we don't always know why life is the way it is.  And I've realized that maybe what I thought was meant to be  just isn't part of MY journey.  Perhaps there is a different plan for me.  Doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt or that I never think about it.  But I'm living one day at a time and have made great strides. I feel peace.

I love my husband and I love our life together.  Our hearts are big though and we have room to share.  Which is why I'm super excited to report that we are getting certified to foster and potentially ADOPT a child!! :))

Remember back in May when Biff and I volunteered with Foster Care Counts?  My good friend Karen turned us on to that organization and we helped with their Mother's Day event for foster parents.  Well, I guess that was us sticking our lil' pinky toe in the water.  Around that same time, one of my other good gal pals recommended Nia Vardalos' book, Instant Mom.  (Thanks, Sally!) I loved that book.  It was just what I needed at exactly the right time. Finally.  Someone who could relate to how I had been feeling around all these other moms.  Someone who had experienced all the crazy-making hormones.  Those shots are awful btw.  All the bloating?!  What a nightmare...  The emotional roller coaster? Nothing compares.   Nia's story is incredible.  She went through so many IVF cycles...  Experienced such heartbreak.  I really don't know how she survived.  But she DID survive and now she has the daughter she was always meant to have!

It's a story that is so inspiring and gives me lots of hope.  And I think it's what ultimately led to me calling a Foster Family Agency and  setting up that initial meeting.  And now 2 1/2 months later, we've taken the classes and gotten fingerprinted.  We've had our health screenings, our cars and home inspected and learned CPR.  There are still a few more things to take care of but we are so close now.  They tell us that by September, we may very well have a child in our home!!!

The process is totally scary and I've had about a million freak-outs about the whole thing.   There's a lot of red tape, so much bureaucracy.  And it's definitely not for everyone.  But it's looking (and feeling!) more and more like it's for us. Yay!

I'll probably go into more detail regarding the whole process in the coming weeks and of course, as I embark on instant motherhood, I'll be sharing those experiences too.  First though, we've got to kick some of these decorating projects into high gear!  We have to get the kiddos rooms ready STAT!  More on those plans coming soon.  

Check back next week for some pretty eye candy from my recently finished Ohio Guestroom Project!

SO much to do but the future is looking bright!  Happy Thursday, friends.

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