A Year of Miracles


My miracle baby is no longer a baby. She turned one on Friday.

I haven’t been sure how or when to post on here anymore. I don’t feel a calling to be a straight-up mom blogger. And, more importantly, a lot the people who read this blog are still going through infertility and loss, and I want to be sensitive to that. But I feel like this milestone is too big to pass by, so here I am.


One year, holy smokes. One year of looking into the face of a baby I never thought I’d meet. Some days I still ask myself if this is really a dream. I’m not exaggerating when I say that every day with Winnie in our lives feels like magic. I am up to my eyeballs in gratitude. This life, this family–it is all I’ve ever wanted.

Grief still lingers, of course, and probably will for a long time. On a recent road trip to South Carolina, it hit me hard that Winnie’s twin should be traveling with us. I miss my mom, I miss my brother, I miss all three of those babies that I’ll never get to meet–at least not in this lifetime. But so it goes, right? There can’t be light without darkness. The last few years were very dark and very long, but how can I begrudge them when they brought me here, to this place right now?

I quit my job after Winnie was born. I had been unhappy there for a long time, and I just couldn’t fathom leaving this hard-earned baby every day to go to work. I’ve been doing a bit of freelance writing here and there, but mostly I’m just spending time with my girls. Lettie is in pre-school three days of the week, but I have her home with me the other two days. Winnie is with me every day, all day. I never thought of myself as the stay-at-home mom type, but so far I’m loving it. There is nowhere else I’d rather be. I have no plans to return to work at the moment, but who knows what will happen in the future. I’m considering going back to school at some point to be an infertility nurse. I eventually want a career that allows me to help others who are going through what I went through, but I’m not sure what that will look like.

Other than than hanging with Tim and the girls, I’ve mostly been doing things that feel good to me. I started writing creatively again, which I haven’t done for years (aside from this blog). I even took a memoir class to get some ideas going. I’d like to turn my experience with infertility into a book, but alas I am slow and lack focus, so we’ll see when or if that happens. I’m trying not to pressure myself. I made a mosaic the other week out of an old recycling bin. I’m planning on painting my front door an eggplant purple soon. Every morning during Winnie’s nap, I take a nap, too. Slowly, I am healing. I am returning to the person I used to be before infertility took over my life–or, maybe more accurately, I am learning who I want to be right now.

If you can believe it, Winnie is still breastfeeding. She had the same exact issues as Lettie (tongue tie), but for whatever reason she just fought for it harder than Lettie did, and we were able to exclusively breastfeed pretty much from day one. To have that nursing time with her was and is one of the greatest gifts of my life. Personality-wise, Winnie is happy and very laid back (like her dad–she did not get that from me; I have zero chill). She’s shy, but she likes to smile at people and say “hi” from a distance. She eats everything, and I mean everything–pate, tapenade, filet mignon, you name it. She was a terrible sleeper, but thankfully we seem to have finally worked that out through sleep training. Today, she dropped a big, wet open-mouthed kiss on me and said, “Ah-la-la-la.” I’m telling myself she said “I love you.” You never know.

I have so much more I could say, but this seems like a good place to stop for now. I’ll leave you with some pictures of Winnie’s first birthday party. I’m not the crafty type, but I ended up making all of the decorations (along with tons of help from my mother-in-law and her friend). I had so many conflicting feelings about my baby turning one that I had to channel it into something…sooooooo crafts it was!

Even though I’ve been silent on here for so long, I think of you all often. I am grateful to you, and will always be grateful to you, for being there for me during the hardest time of my life. I’m not sure how much I’ll post on here going forward. Maybe I’ll pick it back up again at some point, who knows. Regardless, if you need an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on, or if you have any questions about immunology treatments or anything else, hit me up at theskyandbackblog@gmail.com. I am here.

she asked
‘you are in love
what does love look like’
to which I replied
‘like everything I’ve ever lost
come back to me’
–Nayyirah Waheed


A Healing Time

I have not abandoned this blog, not forever anyway. But it became apparent to me over the last few months that I needed to take some space to heal. I spent so much time during the past several years worrying, writing and hand-wringing about the future. And now that future I’ve longed for is here, and I think I need to just live in it for a while. I just need to be.

I’m still reading and following all of your stories. And for those of you still waiting for your own miracle, please know that I continue to love you and root for you–always. I’m not sure if I’ll be back to blogging in a few days or a few months, but regardless I wanted to at least pop by in the interim to say “hi.” 

For now, I am happy, I am healing and, most of all, I am soaking up every single blessed second.

Five Years Of Blogging: A Thousand Thank Yous

You guys. A couple days ago was my five year blogiversary. Five freaking years? Say what? Although I’m a sporadic blogger at best, I still can’t believe I’ve kept this thing going for five full years. Even in, like, seventh grade I couldn’t keep a journal going longer than five weeks. So yeah, pretty cool. But that’s not the point. The point today is to say a big, fat…


Thank you to you guys. And by you guys I mean anyone that’s reading this post now or has read this blog in the last five years. Thank you for your support.

Truly, this blog has been an amazing source of support for me. You all have been with me through infertility, pregnancy loss, a tumultuous breastfeeding relationship, the death of my mom and brother

The list goes on and on.

I really don’t know what I would have done without you all the last five years.

You guys carried me. You were there through the worst times in my life. You graciously celebrated my joys with me, even as you were going through your own hard times.

You were right there, the whole way. And that means so much to me.

So thank you, thank you. And thank you again.

Just for fun, in honor of five years, I’m linking to my top five favorite posts below. Here they are, in chronological order.

1. These Lovely, Golden Days

2. Love In The Time Of Miscarriage

3. A Death, A Birth, A Silent Night: My Messy Beautiful

4. 38 Years Of Being Alive

5. The Things She Carried

I love you guys. All the way to the sky and back!

All My Peeps In Heaven: Elowen’s Birth Story


Birth story, coming right atcha! Warning: this might be a longie.

I think I mentioned in another post that I was having an allergic reaction to the heparin. At first it was just red patches, but then it got worse. The area around the injection was getting white and swollen, like this:imageI called my OB on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend to see what she thought about the worsening injection site.

Her response: “Just stop taking the blood thinners all together. We don’t want you to go into anaphylaxis.”

My response: “…Ummm.”

Cue silent freak out.

She knows me by now, so she could tell I was about to lose it. She suggested I send her pictures so she could better evaluate the situation. I sent her pictures, then promptly never heard back from her. Like, ever.

Days went by. Meanwhile, I’m wondering with every injection if now’s the time I’m going to go into anaphylactic shock, possibly killing myself and my baby. It was not a fun Memorial Day Weekend. I might even venture to say it was the worst weekend of my life. I tried to comfort myself by saying that if my doctor thought things were dire, she would’ve called me back.

Finally the weekend was over, and on Tuesday morning I had a monitoring appointment with maternal fetal medicine. I showed the nurse midwife my injection site and she said she’d talk to the doctor. Meanwhile, baby failed her non stress test per usual, so I had to get a biophysical profile. After the ultrasound the doctor came in. Luckily it was my favorite MFM doctor.

He looked at the injection site and said, “Yep, that’s an allergic reaction.” Then said, “You have two options. You could stop the heparin and ride out the rest of the pregnancy without blood thinners. I think this would be fine. Or you could go back on Lovenox, but that might mean you can’t get an epidural. So what do you want to do?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “I definitely want an epidural. And I know you don’t think I need to be on blood thinners, but I’m so anxious and I worry that stopping them would push me over the edge.”

And then I started crying. All the worry, the stress, my brother’s death, everything — in that moment it just became too much.

So the doctor, being the great person he is, said, “You know what? You’re 37 weeks and 5 days, so the other option is to just go have a baby today.”

I breathed the biggest sigh of relief and said, “Oh my God, that would be awesome.” He left to call my OB and make sure it was ok with her. I knew this wouldn’t be a problem because I had been begging my OB for an earlier induction for months, but she kept saying maternal fetal medicine wouldn’t go for it until 39 weeks. Now that I had their blessing, I figured she’d be cool.

The MFM doc came back, said everything was a go and that I should go upstairs and see my OB for details. Then he said, “High five?” I gave him a five and that was that.

I went upstairs and my OB told me that they could get me in for induction the next day at noon. She said to call at 10:30 to see if they had a bed ready for me. I took this photo at the OB’s office so I could document my final 24 hours as a pregnant lady. The relief on my face is pretty clear:


Tim and I left doctor’s, we went to Target, we had lunch together outside. I tried to have a nice time during my last day of being pregnant. But even though I knew it would all be over tomorrow, I still worried. I worried about getting a blood clot, I worried about the baby suddenly dying in the night. I couldn’t enjoy my pregnancy, you guys, not even in its last moments. I still feel a little sad about this.

I woke up the next morning anxious that they wouldn’t have a bed ready for me at noon. Right before I called the hospital, I had a little out-loud conversation with my brother. David was the king of making things happen. He could pretty much charm anyone into doing anything. So I said, “Ok, David, please help me out here. Work your magic.”

And he did. They had a bed ready for me, and at 11:30 we grabbed my hospital bag and headed to the hospital. As we were leaving, I got this overwhelming feeling that all the spirits who had passed on in the last few years — my mom, my brother, my friend Bryan, my grandma, and even my dog Gretel — were right there with me. I knew then that they were going to stay with me through my entire induction and the birth of my child. They were going to make sure she got here safely. It was an amazing feeling.

image imageIt took a while to get checked in, but finally they set me up in a bed. They hooked up my IV pretty soon after I got settled in, but it took until about 3pm until they finally got started with the induction. They did a cervical check and I was only 1cm dilated, so the first thing they did was to insert a pill called Misoprostol. This hopefully softens the cervix. They insert the pill, then wait four hours, then check the cervix for dilation. Once you are 3cm dilated, they start Pitocin through the IV. They warned me that it could sometimes take four doses of Misoprostol to get to 3cm. They said on average an induction takes 24-48 hours, sometimes longer.

So we settled in for the long haul. Tim went home to get a portable speaker so we could watch Netflix on his computer and listen to music. For the rest of the afternoon, we watched Grace and Frankie and laughed our butts off. I was kind of crampy and uncomfortable from the pill, but nothing crazy.


At about 8pm the resident came back in to check my cervix. She said that I had been contracting regularly, but since I was so comfortable she doubted that I was 3cm.

Lo and behold, though, I was. Things had progressed much quicker than anyone had expected. So they moved me to a delivery room, and got me set up with pitocin. I had been asking everyone I saw all day about epidural wait times. With Lettie, I had to wait hours for the epidural and I was scared of that happening again. Meanwhile, I was texting with my friend, who had to wait seven hours for her epidural, and she was like, “Just get it now! Right now!” So after about an hour of being on the Pitocin, I was still not in very much pain, but I said to the nurse, “You know what, I’m calling it. If the anesthesiologist is ready, I’d like to get the epidural now.” She kind of looked at me a little wonkily, but agreed. At about 10:30 the anesthesiologist arrived, and by 11 I was the proud owner of an epidural.

The anesthesiologist gave me a button and told me that I could press it to get more epidural juice, but she said that most people don’t need to use it until they are around 8 to 9 cm. Not too long after she exited, the resident came in and broke my waters. And then everyone left me to chill out and wait, instructing me to call them when I felt rectal pressure because that would mean it was time to push. They said it would be a while, but an hour or two later I was pressing my epidural button, thinking to myself, “Man, I am such a wimp. I can’t even wait until I’m 8 or 9cm before pressing the button.” Turns out I actually was 8 or 9cm, but just didn’t realize it at the time.

Pretty soon I started feeling pressure. I told Tim, and he told me there was no way I was ready to push and to go back to sleep. So I did. But 15 minutes later it was getting stronger. Again Tim told me it wasn’t time and to go back to sleep. But I decided to call the nurse.

The resident came in and checked me again and said I was fully dilated! She put the bed upright and told me to sit there for a while and call her when I felt it was time to push. A half an hour later they came back in, checked me again and declared that it was time to start some practice pushes. The resident instructed the nurse to tell the attending doctor to come in my room soon.

I tried a practice push, and then another. And then a nurse said, “Ok, someone go get Dr. M, NOW.” Things were progressing fast.

I pushed for a total of six minutes and then Elowen was out.

That’s right, SIX freaking minutes.

Winnie cried for a second and then stopped and looked around. I was worried that she wasn’t crying more and asked if she was ok. They assured me that she was perfect.

I sobbed out, “I’ve waited so long for her.”

And the nurse said, “She’s here now, Tanya. She’s here.”

We had an hour of skin to skin time while the doctor stitched me up and the nurses cleaned everything. The entire time Winnie just looked around at her new world. I could tell then that she was an old soul. The nurses kept asking what she was thinking about because she was looking around so intently.

At one point as they were stitching me up I said, “That was, like, the easiest labor ever.”

And the doctor said, “Do not tell your friends that or they will hate you.”

But you know what? Haters can hate, because I deserved that easy labor. After years of infertility and then a high-risk, anxiety-ridden pregnancy, it was time for something to go smoothly. The whole thing went exactly as I hoped it would. I was relaxed and calm as I welcomed our sweet miracle into this world. I truly felt that all of my loved ones from the great beyond were right beside me, working their magic, telling me in so many small ways:

We are here. She is here. You are loved without end, blessed beyond measure. 





Letter To My Littlest Love: Thank You

WinnieOneWeek Dear Winnie,

You’ve been on this earth for 13 whole days. In that time, you’ve been nursing around the clock, so I haven’t had much time to write you this letter. I am not complaining. I could stare at your face forever. Seriously forever.

Things haven’t been perfect. You’re having feeding issues, your dad and I are exhausted, I’m a weepy hormonal mess and blah, blah, blah. Things haven’t been perfect, no–but they’ve certainly been wonderful. The fact that I get to experience these newborn days with you is nothing short of amazing. I get to watch you sleep cradled in my arms, listen to you squawk like a pterodactyl, run my fingers over the teeny-tiny bouffant on the back of your head. You are newly born and you are here.

You are here.

Right here. With me.

After these long years, the treatments, the losses, you’ve finally come home.

I guess all I really want to say is thank you. Thank you for finding your way to us. Thank you for making our dreams come true. I don’t know how I got so lucky, but trust me when I say I will never, ever take you for granted. Not for a single second.

Life can be cruel sometimes. Your Uncle David was laid to rest on Saturday, far too soon. Sometimes I still cry because I ache for my own mom to hold me, one more time. And that’s not even getting into all the tragedies happening all over this world. There are some truly awful things out there.

But life can also be heartbreakingly beautiful.

You are proof of that.


She Is Here

Meet Elowen Hope. She made it here safe and healthy on Thursday 6/2/16 at 3:17am, weighing 6lbs 12 oz. and measuring 19 inches. My precious little girl is finally here. Birth story to come. Thank you God and my mom and Bryan and David and all of those watching from above who helped bring her into this world safely. I felt their love every step of the way.





37 Weeks: Please Get Here Safely & Soon, Little One

Thank you everyone for your kind words of condolence on my last post. It means a lot to feel surrounded by love and good thoughts during this crappy time.

It probably comes as no surprise to you that I’m feeling, uh…crappy right now.

I vacillate between wanting to scream about my brother and feeling debilitating anxiety about this pregnancy. I suspect much of my grief is currently being channeled into anxiety — probably my brain’s way of protecting myself. Because it is just too much right now. Some days I feel like a robot that is incapable of feeling anything but fear. As I type this I am crying because I am sad and scared and just ugh. I don’t know how I’m going to get through the next two weeks until my induction. I am a mess. I just feel like I can’t handle anymore.

Things have not been going smoothly with the end of pregnancy, but ultimately everything is fine. Baby continues to fail all of her non-stress tests, but then looks ok on the biophysical profiles. The maternal fetal medicine doctor assured me that this is completely fine, that baby girl looks overall great. But still, it freaks me out. I’ve been itching like crazy, so I was tested for cholestasis, which is this liver condition that is bad news for the baby. So far I’ve had two rounds of tests and they’ve both been very strong negatives. I’m getting one more round of tests, so we’ll see, but it looks like I’ve dodged the cholestasis bullet and am just having random pregnancy itching. Then, most recently, I switched from Lovenox to Heaprin a week ago and since then I’ve been getting large red patches around the injection site. They look and feel like sunburn. I went to labor and delivery on Monday to have it checked out and they tested my platelets (which is what they are most concerned about), and all was well with those. My doctor, who is super cautious, looked at my abdomen again on Wednesday and wasn’t concerned about it. She thinks my skin is just so stretched that it can’t handle the injections anymore. I was ok with this explanation until this morning when a nurse at my monitoring appointment looked at it and was like, “That doesn’t look right! It could be an allergic reaction. You need to call us right away if it get worse!” This of course made me freak despite the fact that two different doctors on two different occasions weren’t worried about it. The nurse is right, though–it doesn’t look right. Ugh.

My doctor told me that at my next appointment she’d check my cervix and make an official plan for induction. So things are moving along. Just not fast enough for my strung out self.

I can’t go to my brother’s funeral because it’s in California and I will likely be giving birth or have the teeniest of newborns the day he is laid to rest. I can’t be with my family right now, at a time when we all need each other.

Everything is just too much, you guys. I cannot handle any more right now. Not one more single thing.

I just need this baby to get here safely. Please, baby, make your way out into the world soon — healthy and pink and screaming. Please.

Something nice did happen today, though, so I’ll leave you with that. A few weeks ago, I commissioned my friend, Danielle Kroll , who is an artist and illustrator to paint a something for the baby’s room. She sent me a picture of the final piece this morning. She painted something for Lettie right before she was born, which I adore, but I think I love this one even more. Without further ado, here is is. I really needed a reminder of hope today.