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. 





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.





Goodbye, My Brother


Last Friday, my brother David went deep sea diving in Turks and Caicos with a guide and a small group. He never came back to the boat. They found his body on Saturday. We don’t know what happened—we’ll have more answers once we get the autopsy report back.

I’m not even sure how to begin processing this loss. With my mom, we knew for months that she wasn’t going to make it. Not that the knowing made her death any easier to bear—it didn’t—but there is something to be said for being prepared.

But this? This was fast and furious and shocking on every level. As of Friday morning, I had two brothers on this earth. Now I only have one. Just like that.

David only lived in the same house as me until I was three years old, and after that he moved to California, where he would reside for the rest of his life. One of my earliest memories is of me begging him not to go. “I’ll stay if you lick my feet,” he said. Then he shoved his foot in my face. Ah, big brothers.

Although we were on opposite ends of a very large sibling age spread—he the eldest, me the youngest—people always told us that we had the most similar personalities out of any of the siblings. As children we were both energetic, fiercely independent, spirited and not afraid to speak our minds. In this way, I’ve always felt a special connection with him. He got me and I got him.

One thing I most definitely did not share with my brother was his sense of adventure. The man was fearless. He tried every extreme sport known to man, and he excelled at them all. I am a total wuss, you guys. One Thanksgiving I went quad riding with David in the California desert. After riding around on some baby dunes for a few minutes, I stopped the quad and started crying. I was terrified of tipping over and dying. My brother turned around, comforted me and then escorted me back to the campsite. He and everyone else in the group spent the rest of the trip riding on serious dunes, and I drove around on the flats near our campsite. This was A-OK with me—my brother could be adventurous for both of us.

In addition to being a badass thrill seeker, David was many things—tough on the outside and a sap on the inside, determined, kind, always up for a good fart joke, outrageously charming, mischievous and the most generous person I’ve ever met.

One day he was all of that, filling the world with his larger-than-life personality, and now he is just gone. I still can’t believe it.

The last time I talked to David was a few weeks ago. He called and said, “Did you notice I haven’t called in a while? I didn’t want you to think I forgot about you.” I’m pretty sure I said something jokingly and unintentionally salty, like, “Well it’s not like you usually call a lot.” He was on his car phone. The connection kept cutting out. I felt like I had to yell so he could hear me. It was, quite honestly, an overall awkward conversation. But damn, am I glad he called. He seemed happy, content and at peace. We talked about how much he loved being a stay-at-home dad. We lamented over our kids growing up too fast. Best of all, I got to say I love you to him, one last time. And for that, I will be forever grateful.

So here’s my one request to you. It’s nothing new. People always say this when someone dies, but I don’t think it can be said too much: call your parents or your sister or that friend you haven’t spoken to in years. Hug your babies. Give your dog a nice, big squeeze. Leave a sweet note for your spouse or partner to find. If you love someone, let them know—as often and in as many ways as you can.

Because life is too precious. And far, far too short.

My two brothers at my wedding.
David and his son.
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Hanging with my mom at a Padres game.
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A back-in-the day shot with my sister.
Family shot at the beach. This was taken the summer Tim and I got engaged.
David and Lettie.
David having a moment with his son. This was taken at my mom’s grave site. We all hung around for a while after the service and shared stories about her.
Last summer: the last time the whole fam was together.
This is one of my favorites. My siblings, minus one sister.

Letter To My Littlest Love: Acorns, Stars & Other Things


Dear Little Acorn,

You have many nicknames already, most of them generated by your sister. At first, you were Staircase Ball-Jar, followed by Cupcake Christmas Tree. Your current name du jour is Rocky Stone.

But there’s one nickname that belongs to you and I alone: Little Acorn. There is a story there, of course.

The day before I found out I was pregnant with you, your dad, sister and I were wandering through a boutique near our house. Hanging on the wall was a bright green onesie. I’m partial to crazy, happy colors, so it immediately caught my eye. On the onesie was an illustration of an acorn, and beneath it the words, “I will be mighty.”

Truth be told, I’m a little slow sometimes, so I didn’t immediately get it. “Wait. Why does it say ‘I will be mighty’ with a picture of an acorn?” I asked your dad.

“You know,” he said, “because an acorn starts out tiny and then grows into a big, strong tree.”

Oh. Oh. My heart started racing right there in that store. Because at that moment I knew: that onesie was for you. My little fighter embryo, destined to grow into a mighty oak.

I didn’t buy it, though. After all, I wasn’t even sure I was pregnant. I hoped, oh God did I hope, but I didn’t know. But I promised myself that I would come back and buy it for you if I was indeed pregnant.

Even though I found out the next day that you had decided to stick around, I didn’t go back. I was too scared. It took me almost six weeks to go back and purchase that tiny green onesie. And even then, when I was asking the sales associate about sizing, I didn’t tell her it was for my baby. I pretended it was for another baby, maybe a friend’s baby, or a random nebulous baby belonging to no one.

You see, I was worried sick. And if I’m honest, I still am, most days. (It’s no secret that your mom is a first class worrier. If you ever want to go skydiving or something, talk to your dad.) I feared that my instinct was wrong and that you weren’t a fighter after all, that you weren’t here to stay. That you weren’t mine to keep, not this time.

But you have proved me wrong time and time again. Out of dozens of embryos, you’re the only one that decided my inhospitable body was a fine place to hang out for a while. So far you are surviving and thriving. And just now you kicked me, as if to say, “That’s right, mom. Here I am!”

Yesterday, your sister and I watched a planetarium show. We learned lots of cool things. One of Jupiter’s moons contains frozen lakes with liquid water churning underneath. The hottest stars are blue. If you get lost on a clear night, you can always find your way home by the Big Dipper—it points right to Polaris, the North Star. The sun is so big that it could hold 1.3 million earths.

And even beyond our sun and our solar system, there are infinite stars and planets. An ever-expanding universe—over 10 billion light years that we will never discover.

It seems hard to believe, then, that with all of those things out there bigger and more awesome than we can even imagine, that something so small—an embryo, an acorn, a baby—could even matter.

But you, mighty one, are our whole world.

We are all counting down the days until we can hold you, kiss your new, soft skin, and see the stars in your eyes.


Does My Loss Count?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I’m not sure what I want to say about it, but I feel like I have some kinks to work out in my head.

The question that’s been on my mind: Was the loss of Baby B not a real loss?

It doesn’t seem to count as a loss in the medical community. When I first met with the maternal fetal medicine doctor, he told me that I technically don’t have enough losses for him to officially say I have antiphospholipid antibody syndrome. “You need three early losses to qualify,” he said. I didn’t say anything at the time because I suck at saying things in the moment, but now I wish I would have asked him, “What about this baby’s twin? Why doesn’t that count as a loss to you? Is it because I had no bleeding? No D & C? Is it because half of the pregnancy continued to grow?”

It doesn’t seem to count in the general population either (present company excluded, of course). I’ve mentioned to several friends recently that this pregnancy started out as twins, but one didn’t make it. And you know what? Not one person said they were sorry to hear that. There was no acknowledgement whatsoever. Doesn’t that seem kind of…odd? On the one hand, I completely get it. I have a healthy pregnancy, which is freaking amazing, and I’m sure these friends just wanted to focus on that. I understand, I really do. Their responses, or lack thereof, made me feel weird, though.

And sometimes, the loss doesn’t even seem to count in my own head. For instance, I haven’t named Baby B yet. I named Anna and Gabriel right away, but Baby B remains without a moniker. I suspect this is in part because Baby B is inextricably connected to Baby A, and it doesn’t feel quite right to name B before the birth of A.

But still, I wonder about my lack of interest in choosing a name.

I’ve also spent far less time thinking about this loss than my last two losses. Practically speaking, I think it needs to be that way, at least for now. I have a little girl growing inside of me that requires my love, care and hope, and it doesn’t feel right to focus my energy on the pregnancy’s darker beginnings.

But still, I wonder, am I a bad mother for not grieving for Baby B more?

I feel confused about all of this. Because when it comes down to it, Baby B was alive. He or she had a beating heart. He or she was loved. And most importantly, I truly believe he or she helped her sister to grow and thrive.

And that, in my heart at least, counts for a lot.

28 Weeks And We Are Still Ok

I’m 28 weeks. Which means I’m in the third trimester. Say what? For some reason it really hit me today that, holy crap, I’m in the third trimester. And then I started crying. Because how did that happen? How did I get this far? I’ve said this every step of the way, but I never thought I’d be here. It’s truly humbling. Currently, the baby is kicking my bladder and I’ve never been so happy to have to pee every five seconds in my entire life!

I’m not going to lie and say my head is screwed on straight and I’m the very picture of calm. I’m still scared, I’m still anxious, but both baby and I are doing ok. We had a 3D ultrasound last Saturday and we saw the little nugget yawning and smiling and sticking her fingers in front of her face. I won’t post any pictures here because I don’t want them to upset anyone who’s having a bad day in Infertility Land. But if you actually want to see alien baby shots of the inside of my uterus, send me an email at theskyandbackblog@gmail.com and I’ll pass some along.

On Monday we had a growth scan and the doctor told us that baby was growing on target. Then on Wednesday I found out that I don’t have gestational diabetes! I was certain I would have it because prednisone raises your risk, but I passed the test with flying colors. In my pregnancy with Lettie I was borderline, so I had to watch my sugar. This time, though, it’s Coke Classic and Sour Patch Kids and gluten free Oreos all the way! Actually, I probably should watch my sugar anyway because I’m still gaining weight like an ox, but….nah. Maybe tomorrow.

So I’m hoping that even though this pregnancy started out in a dramatic fashion, the last third will go smoothly. Please, please, pleeeease.

I don’t have much else to report. Tim is painting the nursery today, which freaks me out, but like we need to do it at some point. We’re going with mint green. I always laugh as I write these update posts because they are so blah. Like you guys care that we’re painting our walls mint green!

I took this week off and we’ve been doing things around the house (today guys are here jack-hammering our basement). But we did take one overnight trip to the Pocono Mountains to visit Great Wolf Lodge. This is basically a hotel with a giant water park inside of it. It was completely insane (think Lord of the Flies), but fun, and most importantly Lettie had a blast. She said it was “a million fun.” I’ll leave you with a few pictures from our trip.

Happy Friday! Love you guys!


Surgery Postponed (Ah-Gain)

Thanks for all of your comments and support on my last post! I will respond to each and every one of them soon, but I just wanted to update you quickly and let you know that surgery tomorrow is a no-go. I have a legit cold now (damn you, Lettie!), and my surgeon thought postponement would be best. He said if I’m not 100%, why take the extra risk, even if it’s minimal? I can’t really argue with that, but UGH.

Tim talked to the surgery scheduler earlier this week and she said she was holding a slot for me next week just in case (which is really awesome of her). I just need to get confirmation that I’m officially in. If it doesn’t happen next week, it’ll have wait until mid July because Dr. V is going on vacation for, like, ever. Fingers crossed! I think mid July might make my brain explode.

Oof, oh well. Third time’s going to be the charm, right?