Happiness Is- Victoria’s Story

“Most folks are as happy as they make up their mind to be”

Abraham Lincoln
There is a lot of truth to this quote. You can only be as happy as you decide to be. I don’t know about you, but some days, it is really hard to decide to be happy. In fact, some days, I don’t want to be happy. I don’t want to force an emotion and a state of mind that I am just not able to occupy.
On days where I just can’t seem to rise above the dark cloud, I turn to my “Happy Box”. My Happy Box got officially created when Heather sent me the most beautiful card. Heather and I hadn’t even met yet, she had just had Hannah’s funeral when she found out I was miscarrying. Our husbands work together and had been discussing Heather’s pregnancy and my issues for several months before Hannah passed, so while I knew about Heather, I had only seen her once in passing. I was so surprised when my husband came home with a card from Heather for me (although, now that I am getting to know Heather, I would not be the least bit surprised- she is truly that thoughtful and kind). While I will not share the exact wording of the card, her words gave me the validation I so desired, gave me a connection to someone who was (heartbreakingly) grieving the loss of a child, and made me remember that I am not alone. 
I had kept items from each pregnancy, though haphazardly stored them in bags or cardboard boxes. When I got Heather’s card, I knew I wanted to keep it close because it was the first thing that had made me smile since the miscarriage. I found a wooden box and put the card in it next to my bed, along with other items from my pregnancies and things that just generally made me smile. I decided I would open the box on days when I was particularly sad or in need of a reminder of how blessed I am.
The box has been an incredible lifesaver for me- I can reminisce, smile, and get lost in a million little things that make me happy- and it has never failed me. I would highly recommend to anyone Mother of Loss that you make a box like this.
Originally, I intended to share photos of each item in my box, but I just feel like some of them are too personal to me. You should have your own things that are unique and special to you. Instead, I will share with you what is in the box, and include several photos.
1) Heather’s card- it reminds me I am never alone and that I have a friend I can turn to
2) My first positive pregnancy test- to some, this might sound a little crazy, but it gives me hope and takes me back to a time when I was carefree and so full of love and hope- and had none of the fear I do now.
3) A picture of Jason and I are on our wedding day- this helps me take myself out of current situation. Sometimes, it is so easy to focus on the here and now, that you forget who you are together as a couple. Looking at our picture, reminds me that together, we can do anything.
4) A picture of my parents and brother- I am so close with my family, but sometimes in a state of sadness, I feel very alone. Looking at their picture helps me remember how blessed I am to have an incredible and supportive family who is behind me every step of the way.
5) A picture of a sunset I took on our deck- one of the things that most relaxes me is sitting on our deck in the nice weather at night. We enjoy the sunset, feel the breeze off of the lake, listen to the wildlife, look at the moon and stars, and also watch the planes- we are directly under the flight path to the Philadelphia airport, so we see all of the planes approaching. There is something so peaceful, simple, and serene about a night like that. Just thinking about it helps me relax.
6) My first ultrasound picture- I am sharing this because it brings me so much joy. I carried 4 beautiful babies, and I actually got to see this baby. This reminds me how beautiful pregnancy is and how blessed I am to be able to get pregnant and experience such a a miracle.
7) A poem called: To the Child in my Heart-
O precious, tiny, sweet little one 

You will always be to me

So perfect, pure, and innocent

Just as you were meant to be.

We dreamed of you and of your life And all that it would be

We waited and longed for you to come 

And join our family.

We never had the chance to play, To laugh, to rock, to wiggle.

We long to hold you, touch you now

And listen to you giggle.

I’ll always be your mother.He’ll always be your dad.

You will always be our child,

The child that we had.

But now you’re gone…but yet you’re here.

We sense you everywhere.
You are our sorrow and our joy.

There’s love in every tear.

Just know our love goes deep and strong.

We’ll forget you never–The child we had, but never had,

And yet will have forever.

Author: C.P. 
8) Some of my favorite Bible verses- here are a few:
Romans 5:1-21

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Matthew 18:14

So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

Matthew 19:14

But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

Romans 8:28

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Luke 18:15-17

Now they were 
bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
9) A smiley face magnet- because sometimes, all I need to smile is seeing that silly smile.
10) The coming home outfit Heather and I purchased together.
11) Seashells- these aren’t just any seashells- they are from our honeymoon in Ocracoke, NC. It is our favorite place to vacation, and we have done so on several vacations. It was on our honeymoon that we made a lot of decisions about our family, and therefore, it holds a dear place in my heart.
12) Letters- I wrote a letter to myself and a letter to each of my babies. My box has all of the letters in envelopes (that remain unsealed so I can read them as I choose). The letter to myself is about staying strong, my reasons to carrying on, reminders of the hope and joy in my life, and most importantly- a list of all of the reasons that we are strong. Each letter to the babies details my pregnancy, my emotions, my love for them, fun tidbits about different milestones, a prayer for each of them, and a memorial of their life. Some people might be a bit put off about the letters, but they are exactly what I need. They may not be for you, and that is okay!
I have many other things in my box- stickers, drawings, cards, poems, pictures, etc- but those are the basics. I add to my box constantly and each time I open it, it is a reminder of how blessed I am and how many wonderful things there are in life to be happy about.
I would encourage any Mother of Loss to create her own box. It has been therapeutic, validating, and my strength when I just can’t muster any.

One of THOSE Days- Victoria’s Story

I had a post planned for today about my Happy Box and everything that is in it. I was writing it this morning, and honestly, I am just not happy today. It’s one of THOSE days.

Being a Mother of loss is like being on Tower of Terror at Disney- you never know when the floor is just going to drop out. You never know when the world will flip upside down or stop spinning on you. I still have days where I can go from happy to crying in less than 5 seconds. It’s completely normal- but so frustrating.

Yesterday was a great day! I had a good day at work, started my new fitness program, went for an amazing walk in nature with Heather, her Mom, and her Mom’s friend, and got in a good workout at home. I felt completely happy and my pain was far away.

Today, my day started by waking up 45 minutes late, which may be part of the reason for this off day. I started moving things on my dresser and ran across the “Coming Home” outfit and hat I had purchased with Heather, in memory of my little ones and it overwhelmed me. Usually, the outfit brings me comfort and peace- knowing my babies’ sibling(s) will someday wear it. Today- I sat down and cried for a good 20 minutes.

The rest of the day was filled with triggers- lots of pregnant women at my office, pregnancy announcements on facebook, birth announcements on twitter, a coworker bringing in her 3 month old daughter, e-mails about diaper coupons…. you name it, it happened today. I can feel my pain bubbling at the surface and I know I just need to take the evening to work through my emotions.

I am going to go on a walk with my husband and our dogs and enjoy this beautiful weather. As we walk, I am going to soak up the sun, watch the sun set, say a little prayer to God, and remind myself that I have 4 angels in Heaven watching over me every day. I have so many reasons to push on and live my life in their honor, in God’s honor.

I know I’m not alone. I know we all experience these days. I think the most important piece of advice I have on days like this is to work through your emotions. Acknowledge them, give yourself permission to feel and express them, and then remind yourself why you are blessed.

Thank you for hanging in their with me. I promise Thursday will be a happy post and I will share everything in my Happy Box with you!

Three Months Old Today

Today our sweet Hannah would have been three months old. There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t think of her. Spring is very bittersweet and so is visiting her grave.

She should be here to enjoy the colors of Spring. And her due date is approaching in April
~ Our Christmas and Spring Baby Always ~

Mommy and Daddy love you so much Hannah.

Our Precious Angel Babies- Victoria

**This post is going to be long and won’t include any pictures, so I apologize in advance for the length and the lack of pictures. I just can’t find a picture that I feel represents my feelings. I also want to let you know, I am not going to sugarcoat anything, these are my real feelings and real emotions. While my feelings and emotions may not be the most politically correct or apply to everyone, it’s truly how I feel and I want to be honest and real with you.**
Our story- our story is 3 years of hopes, dreams, successes, and failures. Our story is unlike anyone else’s, but like so many others. Our story is built upon the yearning to have a family and to fulfill our dream of being parents.
Miscarriage #1
My husband and I were married in February of 2011 and discovered we were pregnant for the first time in June of 2011. While we weren’t necessarily “trying” we certainly weren’t NOT trying or doing anything to prevent it. We were ecstatic and terrified. But mostly ecstatic. Before we could even tell family and friends or make it to my first doctor’s appointment, AF came and I knew I miscarried. I was too embarrassed and sad to go to the doctor*, and just had a phone consult with my OB at the time to say as long as I wasn’t ill, bleeding for more than 10 days, and/or wasn’t in excruciating pain, there was really no need to be seen. We chalked it up to probabilities and left it at that.
My heart was broken. I felt hollow, guilty, and in sheer anguish. I went through about 6 weeks of severe depression, but finally was able to accept that these things happen. After all, up to 25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage! (These are the kind of statistics I wish I had known before we started trying, so I could at least go in to the process with my eyes wide open).
Miscarriage #2
After the miscarriage, we started to do a lot of research. I started on prenatal vitamins, mostly cut caffeine from my diet, started eating healthier, and started working out. We decided to try again, and in November of 2011, I discovered I was pregnant! We were overjoyed. I couldn’t get in to my doctor until I was 10 weeks (or what I thought was 10 weeks). My first appointment went well and they never mentioned that the baby looked bigger than the 10 weeks I was supposed to be at. The baby’s heart beat was SO strong. When I was 16 weeks (again, according to my calculations) and I started heavily bleeding and passing extremely large clots (TMI- Golf ball sized). I immediately went to the doctor and they determined I was more like 13 weeks (based on the size of my the baby) and miscarrying. I had a DNC and was told it appeared to be a spontaneous loss. Pathology came back with nothing much to report, other than the baby had stopped developing at about 13 weeks and I had what is called a missed miscarriage. I had had my period during what should have been my first missed period, which explains why my calculations were off.
* This would prove to one of our biggest mistakes. We were so inexperienced and had NO clue what the possibilities were and we aren’t doctors, so why would I argue with one?
Emotionally, this miscarriage was a blur for me. I had finally passed the “nervous” period (since I miscarried at 7 weeks the time before), and I was almost to four months!! I then found out that the baby had passed at only 13 weeks. My body had once again failed me. The sadness didn’t come until a few weeks later. Before the sadness, I was just ANGRY. I was SO angry. Angry at myself, angry at my body, angry at God, angry at my husband, angry at the carpet on the floor. I was angry at the world. I knew it wasn’t healthy or justified, but I couldn’t shake it. After about 2 weeks, the anger morphed to sadness, and I was stuck in a deep state of sadness. I couldn’t eat, I didn’t want to spend time with friends, I didn’t want my husband anywhere near me, I just wanted to curl up in a ball and cry. I was able to defeat this sadness, however, by focusing on research. I started finding out more about miscarriage and I stumbled upon the TTC community in YouTube. I started making connections with women who had journeys filled with so much strength, that I soon realized I could do this.
Miscarriage #3
This time, we decided to wait until after our (2nd) wedding and give ourselves time to adjust to our new house and new jobs and make some lifestyle changes. We started trying again in July of 2012. This was the first time we didn’t get pregnant on the first try. Every month, AF showed up was met with a lot of tears from me. Finally, in October of 2012, I got my BFP, the day AF was supposed to show up. I just felt like this time would be different. Unfortunately, at 7 weeks gestation, I started spotting, and 2 days later, I began passing large amounts of blood and clots. My husband took me to the ER this time and my miscarriage was confirmed. The next day, I got a call from the ER stating that I needed to come back right away. We were scared and raced straight back to the ER. Once we got there, it was explained that they had spun my blood 6 times to verify and had discovered I had a Weak D blood type. I was in such a daze, I just nodded and signed off so they could give me the RhoGam.*
* This is the part that we are still investigating. I had many medical issues as a child- from seizures, to asthma, to allergies, to several surgeries, etc. All of which required giving blood and having my blood type tested. I was always told I had O Negative Blood. I even donated blood in college and was given a card saying my blood type was O Negative. We have no idea how, for 28 years, my blood type was completely wrong!
** It is worth noting that I did not receive RhoGam after my first two miscarriages. The first time was obviously because I did not see a doctor because they did not feel it was necessary. The second time, I saw a doctor, and pathology didn’t even return with this information. We have NO idea how it was missed in this case, either. We are now getting ready to find out if not having RhoGam the first two times has effected my ability to carry to term.
Emotionally, this miscarriage was easier to cope with, simply because I thought we were on to something. Perhaps we had a reason why this was happening and the RhoGam would be the miracle worker. (Obviously, I had no idea I should have been given it the first two times). While I still dealt with several weeks of intense periods of sadness, I was able to rationalize the cause and effect and plan for the future. I had hope again, which is something I had been lacking in my prior experiences.
Miscarriage #4
After we lost the baby in October of 2012, we decided to start trying again right away. It is worth noting here that my OBGYN at the time (I since have a new one who helped me through loss #4 and is treating me currently), didn’t give me any “don’t do’s” or tell us to wait or ask for any extra testing. While I questioned the hormonal issue, I was told that since I could get pregnant, we would cross that bridge once I was pregnant. Of course, not being a doctor myself, who was I to argue with the specialist?
Jason and I started trying as soon as I got my period back in January of 2013. February, no BFP. March, no BFP. Called the OBGYN and was told it was normal and not to stress. April, no BFP. May, no BFP. OBGYN does an ultrasound, says I’m fine and to keep trying. June, no BFP. July, no BFP. It was at this point, I started looking for a new OBGYN and got accepted into a great practice in our area. It was a long waiting list to get in and I couldn’t get scheduled until October, since I wasn’t pregnant. August, no BFP. September, no BFP. October comes and I was incredibly sick with pneumonia, so we had to move my appointment to December. November, no BFP. December comes and the doctor has to move my appointment, because she got called to an emergency c-section. Luckily, I only needed to wait until January 16th.
December 31st- BFP. Wait… what? BFP. I was blown away. We decided right then to appreciate and love every day that we had, so we told everyone immediately. Our parents, our siblings, our Aunts and Uncles, our close friends. We were SO excited. My first appointment was moved up to be January 8th so we could do an ultrasound. Given my history, they didn’t want to wait.
I had so many symptoms. My breasts hurt SO bad, I was SO nauseous (something I had NEVER experienced in my previous 3 pregnancies), I had stretching sensations in my uterus, I felt a full feeling in my abdomen, I was SO thirsty, I was exhausted, I was breaking out. I was so sure that THIS baby was OUR baby and we were bringing this one home. I knew that I had ovulated late, so I wasn’t as far along as my last period suggested, so when I had some mild spotting on January 4th, I didn’t think too much of it. It wasn’t red and I had no cramping, so I chalked it up to my body stretching and growing. January 5th, I noticed a streak or two of red, but only when I wiped. When I woke up January 6th to a bit more blood when I wiped, my heart sunk. I knew what was happening. I called the OBGYN and they agreed to see me immediately. As soon as they did the pelvic exam, my bleeding intensified and my heart broke. They sent me over for blood work and then home to wait.
Later that day, they confirmed that my blood work was bad. My progesterone level was less than 1 (in a normal non-pregnant woman it should be around an 8 and in a pregnant woman at that stage, it should have been over 16) and my HCG levels were only 34, and they typically should be in the 100s. The doctors were all on the phone together telling me how sorry they were and coordinating a way for me to get RhoGam. They sent me to the ambulatory care center at the hospital for RhoGam the next morning. During the night, however, my pain intensified to the point I could barely breathe. I have a very high pain tolerance, so I knew it was bad. My bleeding was also horrendous. By the time I got the ambulatory care center for the RhoGam, I had lost a lot of blood and could barely walk due to the pain. They were concerned, so as soon as the RhoGam was administered, they sent me to my OB’s office to be seen.
I just want to say I LOVE my OB. She came in and before she said anything, she just hugged me. I broke down and she just let me cry. She told me that she will get me pregnant and keep me that way and that it was time to get me into the fertility clinic. She talked to me about all of the positives as she did the exam to make sure I was okay. She prescribed some pain medication and sent me home on bed rest orders with a referral to the Fertility specialists.
Emotionally, I am still dealing with the pain. In a weeks time, I have 5 good days and only 2 bad now. The bad is still REALLY bad though.
Plans Moving Forward:
I have since had several follow-up appointments during which we determined I have PCOS and my hormone levels are completely off. I have to reschedule my fertility appointment, so that will also be coming at some point. We are also in the process of moving towards adoption, but I will update about that in a future post. I do want to stress that we are by no means giving up on getting pregnant. We want a biological child, but we also have always wanted to adopt. We feel like adoption is an incredible gift, not only for us, but also for the child. We also found out recently that we have another option- my very best friend, who is the most selfless, caring, and incredible woman- has volunteered to be our surrogate if it comes to that in the future. I was blown away by her steadfast resolve in doing this for us and am still moved to tears whenever I think about it. While I pray it doesn’t come to that, just knowing we have that as an option gives me so much peace. We have 4 more weeks until we can start trying again and we have decided to give it a go on our own more time, just to see if my supplement regimen has been helping and where we stand.
Let’s talk about how I am feeling:
Real talk here- A lot of people I am acquainted with are getting pregnant and it hurts. It’s not that I am not ecstatic for everyone who is getting pregnant, because my heart is filled with so much joy and hope for them. It’s that it just feels like I am so alone sometimes. What is REALLY difficult is all of the people who complain about how annoying their kids are on Facebook or all of the people who post on BabyCenter how they didn’t really want any kids, but they are unfortunately pregnant. I know children can be difficult and there are certainly days where you want to rip your hair out. But I would give anything to be ready to rip my hair out because my son threw his milk on the floor for the 10th time today or my daughter stayed up all night for the 8th day in a row. I would love to have the opportunity to be frustrated by those moments. I also can’t imagine how hard it would be to be in a position where you aren’t ready to have to children and be pregnant, but I would also give anything to have that happen. It’s so hard to see people all around me that don’t want children getting pregnant. Why are those people given the gift of a child when my husband and I  yearn for that blessing and get it taken away? Hearing that God has a plan and it will happen when it’s time is great, but it doesn’t help. I realize everyone has the best intentions and really, I know you want to say something helpful, but it’s really okay. There is nothing anyone can say.
My advice?
If I could offer one piece of advice to anyone who knows someone dealing with fertility issues, it’s -just listen. You don’t need to find the magic phrase to fix it, because there isn’t one. We know in our hearts that you want to fix it and make it better, but all we really want is your ears to listen and your hands to hold. We love you so much for being there for us and for wanting to make it all better, but just hug us when we are sad, let us cry when we need to, let us yell at the Universe (even when it makes no sense), laugh with us when we are having a good day, and most importantly, don’t be afraid to talk about it. No matter when we lost our babies- at 6 weeks, 13 weeks, or 23 weeks, we still lost a baby. The baby was a person and real to us and they existed. We don’t want to forget them. Realize that even a year after a loss, we may still be grieving. These emotions and thoughts tend to pop up at the strangest moments, that seemingly make no sense at all. We will work it out, but please don’t judge us.
In Conclusion:
There are so many women out there who have been struggling longer than us and have even more heartbreaking stories; and for them I pray every day. I know that our situation could be worse- we can GET pregnant and some people don’t even get that far. I am not at all trying to present my situation as a “worse case scenario”. I am sharing our journey to hopefully reach others who are struggling and let them know they are not alone. I know that in my darkest hours, finding the incredible TTC Community on YouTube is what saved me. Having this incredible support network is what got me through the moments when it felt like the world was sitting on my chest. I just hope that I can be that support for someone else.
We are still searching for answers, and I plan to share everything with you- the good and the bad. I promise to be real and honest, and to give you any piece of information I think is relevant and could be helpful.
I am a Mommy, a Mommy to 4 Angel babies. 4 beautiful babies that I will someday get to know and meet. I pray every day they will help me stay strong to give them a Rainbow sibling here on Earth.
I would love to hear from you. Please comment down below on your experiences, what your thoughts are, anything. If you want more information, please subscribe to my YouTube channel.
Thank you so much for your love and support!