You Are Not Alone – A Different Kind of Love Story #NIAW

As we know love comes in all shapes and sizes, for me it came in a pair of soft, cotton, stretchy, faded, wide legged yoga pants.  Incredibly comfortable, as if wearing a second skin, a cloud of air around my lower body. I love them for the times they represent in my life and the journey that they literally carried me through. The beginning of this love story started ten months before I would even come into contact with my “one and only”.  The initial start can be summed up with one word, one of the most taboo words of mankind, infertility. No one talks about it, at least no one in real life but the truth is that 1 in 8 of the U.S. population deals with this monster.  For years I had been missing my period, a seemingly great thing for a newly engaged 24 year-old with a wedding to plan. Yet six months after the honeymoon ended, it wasn’t so terrific for a wife who longed to be a mommy.

After moving along the disappointing game board of gynecologist to fertility specialist, my husband Erik and I found ourselves in the office of Dr. R.  A gifted specialist with a team that not only knew their stuff but also had a bed side manner that made us feel cared for rather than helpless. Dr. R walked us through the scary and intimidating world of fertility treatments, teaching us how and when to administer shots, mixing vials to be sure one hormone rose while another flat lined. It was like conducting a symphony while playing an instrument at the same time.

Hoping to be pregnant by the Easter holiday, my first treatment began in March 2009. During those weeks of timed shots and sex, I secretly bought and hoarded baby items and maternity clothes. I felt that if I was optimistic and prepared for a baby that the universe would somehow reciprocate and I would become pregnant. It was during one of these secret shopping sprees that I met my adoring companion made of black stretchy cotton. I’ll never forget wandering through the aisles of my favorite department store when I came across the seemingly ordinary pants in the athletic section, they weren’t even maternity (which is funny and serendipitous all at the same time) but something about them just felt right.

Soon my first round of treatments was over and the waiting game began. Each day I woke and went to sleep hoping that I was pregnant. Finally two weeks after my first IUI (intrauterine insemination) I took the pregnancy test that would hold the answer I had been waiting for.  There I stood in a brightly lit bathroom staring down at bold letters, NOT PREGNANT.  It was such a lonely feeling. Even those closest to me, my husband, my mom, my friends could never really understand. No one had been in my shoes, I felt like I was failing as a woman and as a wife. It’s hard to stay positive when you feel so alone. I kept thinking that if I had done one thing differently Erik and I wouldn’t be in this situation. Having a knowledgeable doctor, a supportive husband and yoga/meditation practice brought me through those dark times.

While the tantalizing black fabric of my loving yoga pants waited in the corner of my closet yearning to be worn, I faced another disappointing negative pregnancy test to end my second treatment round. Following at the heels of that gloomy outcome was another setback. We would have to wait some time before trying again due to hyperstimulation to my ovaries, a side effect caused by the fertility treatments. So we waited another two months before trying for a third time.

In the month of July, shortly after my 26th birthday, we started and completed our third round with Dr. R. This time for the scheduled IUI I decided for comfort and found myself in my closet pulling out and slipping on the inky black fabric. After the procedure I laid on the exam table with my hips propped staring at the ceiling panels when over the clinic’s sound speakers the song Erik and I danced to on our wedding day began to play. At that moment, wearing my beloved yoga pants for the first time, I knew this time would be different.

With summer trips and a full work schedule the two-week waiting period seemed to fly by. Before I knew it I was taking a pregnancy test with Erik waiting just outside the door. We sat together on the edge of the bed hoping for a positive result. Some how I just knew that this time things just felt different and that I was pregnant. To our joy the pregnancy test confirmed my gut feelings. We were going to have a baby!

I wanted to tell the world so badly, to say to every human being that passed my way that I had a tiny life in my belly. Finally at 12 weeks pregnant I busted those brand new prized yoga pants out and topped them off with the tightest belly emphasizing shirt I owned. For the rest of my 42 and half weeks of pregnancy those pants carried me. As my belly grew and I developed a deep love for my unborn son, those pants encased my swelling tummy. I wore them to and from my daily swims, where I decorated the nursery in my head. I wore them to prenatal checkups and to baby stores. I wore them as I watched movies and stuffed my face with the intoxicating taste of Golden Graham Smores bars during the 8 days that my first-born was late.

Finally on April 27th 2010 I wore  my darling and comforting black leggings in a labor pained car ride to the hospital at 5 am in the morning and two days later I wore them home as I rode in the backseat next to an infant carrier holding my sweet Braxton Gerard. Though not being able to fit into my jeans, my beloved stretchy companion fit and embraced my new postpartum body with a lovely ease. They were there with me through the late nights of breastfeeding, diaper changes and mother/son bonding. As the weeks wore on and my jeans started to fit, my dear friend went into hibernation.

Fast forward a year and half later after a cross-country move to Texas with a new life my husband and I found ourselves facing the taboo world of infertility yet again. In October of 2011 we started the emotional and physical exhausting process with a new clinic.  Doing some research we found a new specialist and gave him our trust.  The first round of treatments started in November of 2011, a painful and tiring round to say the least, the swelling and discomfort was intense. I didn’t question and went along, I thought I was surely pregnant since the only time I had ever felt a twinge of discomfort during my experiences with our first doctor was the day we knew Brax had been conceived. With the thought of possibly carrying a little one, I invited the expansion and swelling of my belly. The denim of my jeans was unforgiving so I happily found myself relying on my old friend.  My stomach tender and round under the consoling cloth of my yoga pants, I awoke two weeks later on the designated day of my pregnancy test, to find that my period had come.

Devastated I pushed on completing another painful treatment round in January of 2012. Little did I know that I was being prescribed the wrong treatment and drugs. The emotional and physical pain I experienced during those treatments is something that I do not wish upon any person, it could not be relieved by any comfort from fabric or human. My stomach was constantly swollen and my loving pregnancy yoga pants were now a constant in my pre-pregnancy wardrobe.  After sleepless nights, long discussions and arguments with the doctor we decided to seek help elsewhere.

Once again, faith and research lead us in a new direction and into the office of Dr. M. She had been on the infertility journey herself, experiencing it mentally, emotionally and physically first hand. We trusted her and took the leap of faith into her knowledgeable hands. Completely hands on and watching my progression closely, we started our first treatment with Dr. M in the middle of March 2012. Not once did I need to seek refuge in my inky black trousers of comfort. Before I knew it the treatment period was over and Erik and I were walking hand in hand out of the clinic after an IUI procedure towards a two-week waiting period.

Two weeks later and two days after our first-born turned two, I picked up the phone and called Dr. M’s office for the results of a pregnancy blood work panel I had drawn that morning. My prayers were answered with that call, the test was positive and according to the numbers “way” positive. The result numbers were high indicating that it was a possibility that I could be carrying twins, but we’d have to wait another three weeks before any confirmation could be made through an ultrasound.  As planned, Dr. M conducted an ultrasound on my five week pregnant belly. I lay on the exam table wearing my dear soft yoga pants out of hope and superstition. My heart skipped a beat. The ultrasound, to our surprise, didn’t show two heartbeats but three. At first Dr. M wasn’t sure if there was an actual third beat. After some maneuvering and focusing, she determined that there was a third. It was weaker and much smaller than the other two. Dr. M decided that it was best to wait another week to see how each baby progressed before jumping to any conclusions. However she did warn that in her medical opinion, carrying triplets did pose a threat to not only the mother but to all three babies. After filtering as much information as we could through the adrenalin that fogged our minds, my husband and I again walked hand in hand out of the exam room, down the hall and out of the clinic.

Feeling a rush of emotions, excitement, fear and happiness, Erik and I drove over to a coffee shop to process the news we had just been told. He reassured me that everything was going to be okay. We both knew in our hearts and minds that we would be keeping all three babies, we would never choose. We said that we would let it rest in God’s hands, following the path that our family was destined for. After the longest week of our lives we found ourselves back in Dr. M’s office looking at a screen holding only two heartbeats. The weakest of the 3 was no longer present it was hard to describe the feelings I felt looking at that monitor. Erik and I don’t speak about it much, it’s a sad topic that doesn’t sit well with our hearts. It’s something private that I can’t due justice with any words that could be placed on paper within this story but only felt by the heart.

The fall brought cooler temps and a bigger belly which lead to the joyous reappearance of my soft black stretchy love. My fondest memory of that autumn was wearing those black yoga pants as I waddled down the streets of our neighborhood trick or treating with my son dressed as a magician. My belly kicked and rolled as I made it, 31 weeks pregnant with twins, an hour and walking up and down sidewalks and entry ways.  It could have been the extra kick from the Halloween candy he shared with me but I’m pretty sure it was fueled by the pure enjoyment of watching my son zig zag down the sidewalk with his red and black cape flapping behind him in the wind.

The days grew longer as their due date grew closer. Unlike my soft loving yoga pants, the books I had been religiously reading on twin births and upbringing were far from reassuring.  I certainly wasn’t prepared emotionally or mentally prepared. I had yet to come to terms with my “twin fears.” I didn’t want either baby in ICU and was fearful of an emergency C-section. I also wasn’t sure if I would be able to divide myself in terms of time, emotionally and physically among all three. What if Brax hated the babies or me? What if the hospital wouldn’t let me bring them home? What if I favored one baby over the other?

An induction date of December 26th 2012 was scheduled. My skin itched and the soft broken fabric of my yoga pants felt like a haven against my fragile skin. I was having Braxton hicks on a regular basis and the second I stood up my legs ballooned from the weight and pressure of the babies. My mom was scheduled to come help out during the birth so we decided to move her flight up a week earlier than planned, we just had a feeling these babies would be making their grand entrance sooner than later.  Seeking relief from the weight of the babies, Erik and I sought refuge in the community indoor pool. Slipping off the yoga pants to uncover my swollen body in all its glory, I’ll never forget the look on Erik’s face as I waddled out to the pool. As we enjoyed our alone time and floated weightless around the pool we discussed the possibility of moving the induction date up. We decided that once again we would leave it to a higher power and what would be the hurt in just asking? Once we arrived home we made a phone call to our OB. To my relief she agreed that with my progression, discomfort and the fantastic health of the babies she felt confident moving the induction date to the 23rd, less than 48 hours away.

On December 23rd I walked into the maternity ward adorning my precious black yoga pants.  On December 25th I was wheel-chaired out in the beloved pants nestled between two miracle babies, Travis Christopher and Hailey Noelle. It only snowed once that year and it was on that day. A duvet of white enveloped the streets of Frisco as Erik and I made our way home with our new little spawns of delicate beauty.  Upon walking in the door my two year old wrapped his little arms around my tired legs covered in that soft black fabric that was now fitting a bit loser.

I wore my precious yoga pants often during those first four months of chaos.  Becoming a patchwork quilt of spit-up, breast milk and love they helped me survive long nights and early mornings, along with the fights and doubts that came along with three small children.  Those precious pants gave comfort while witnessing unconditional love, the growth of bonds that would last a lifetime and the strength that became our family of five.

My lover now sits on a shelf in my closet. Stretched and worn by love those comfy pants are still a reflection of where I am at in my life. With their shape and size changing as my heart, mind and body have they still have questions to be answered. Will they be worn again around a swelling belly, will we have more children? If we do, what will that journey entail?  Even though I may not be pregnant, there are still chilly days of self doubt that lead me to find comfort in the soft intertwining stitches of those pants, what future events will occur that send me into that soft refuge?  What I do know is that I spent 20.00 on some stretchy black fabric, becoming the best purchase I ever made.  I also know the love and affection held within the stitches of their fabric will carry on, I plan on wrapping those pants up along with this story under the glitz of a big red bow and gifting them to my daughter the day she tells me I’m going to be grandma.

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One thought on “You Are Not Alone – A Different Kind of Love Story #NIAW

  1. Sarah {Grounded & Surrounded} says:

    Beautifully written…I love the idea of giving those pants to your daughter some day…you will have to save this story for her too.

    Liked by 1 person

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