Another Loss. More Grief.

My (maternal) Grandma Margaret passed away last week.

I am so DONE.

Now at 38 years OLD (I feel ancient) I have lost both my parents and all of my grandparents. I’ve nearly lost my husband, *twice*. I’ve lost my colon. I’ve lost my house to a fire. I’ve lost babies to miscarriage.

Sometimes I feel like I’m losing my mind.

My life is defined by grief and loss, grief and loss, and more grief…and loss.

I’m now paranoid that ALL the bad things are going to happen. Any scenario my anxiety-riddled brain comes up with seems plausible. I’m struggling to live in the moment while also steeling myself for the next bad thing to happen. Will my husband drop dead? Will he be home alone with 3yr old BG? Will I be lulled into a false sense of security, on a mundane trip to Target, and return home to a hysterical child and unresponsive husband??? Will it be my beloved labrador retriever? Will he develop cancer or kidney failure? Or God forbid…if anything happens to BG…I would swiftly take my own life.

I don’t like living in fear. I do the f*ing EFT tapping therapy to try to stay mentally and physically healthy. But about the time I begin to move on from one tragedy, the next one strikes. It’s like tidal waves of tragedy keep trying to drown me and I keep kicking to the surface but about the time the water calms, another wave hits.

Metaphorically speaking I feel about as desperate as Tom Hanks in the movie Cast Away.

And I have nobody to talk to about it, except you–my internet friends.

XOXO,

MLACS

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Grief, Anxiety and Depression (and what I’m doing to heal)

I don’t know where to begin. I’ve been spiraling since my dad died.

I was just starting to get traction in my life after several years of of tumult. My health declining and autoimmune issues usurping my life and finances. Infertility and miscarriages. Mr. MLACS’s heart failure when I was 32 weeks pregnant. Being a new mother and deeply feeling the loss/void of my own beloved mother. Coping with Mr. MLACS being gone for work for weeks at a time. Overwhelming PPA (postpartum anxiety) and coming to terms with cutting off our toxic family members, including my dad (it took 2 years of weekly therapy and a lot of processing). Finally buying our first home–our dream home–only to have it burn down as we were packing to move. Moving to a very depressed area of Louisiana after the Great Flood of 2016, where I knew no one and felt like I didn’t belong.

Becoming ill and spending the entirety of 2017 fighting for my life with no support, because I was too sick to even ask for it. Feeling useless and hopeless at times.

Finally embracing the idea of a total colectomy surgery–having a prosthetic colon for the rest of my life. Finally about to move into my dream home.

And being deathly ill and having my husband drop dead at work, revived…but I am haunted by the way he looked and smelled like death in the ER. The nurses hearing me sob in the bathroom next to his bed in the ICU, as I sat on the toilet bleeding, desperately needing to be admitted myself but terrified to have my surgery because I was afraid I might die and orphan my child. My precious BG and my precious dog so sad and scared despite my best efforts to spare them the grief I felt. My heart was broken into a million pieces.

But I overcame everything. I beat infertility and I have the most precious daughter. I overcame PPA and came to terms with severing ties with my father. Mr. MLACS got a new job where he would be home every night. Our dream home was repaired. My surgery went well and I don’t need to take any IBD medications–I am not “chronically ill” anymore. My husband has a pacemaker/defibrillator and has taken responsibility for his health and lost a lot of weight. We moved into our dream house and I even bought my dream furniture.

I was making a comeback with my fitness, going to Burn Boot Camp and Barre3 classes and I volunteered as the organizer for a local moms fitness group–I was transparent about my ostomy. I was living my truth. I felt brave. I felt bold. I felt powerful. I felt beautiful. I felt like I was going to crush my goals.

And then my dad died.

And after everything I’ve been through–what I’ve overcome–and the fact that he wasn’t even a very good dad, you wouldn’t expect *that* to be the “straw that broke the camel’s back”.

But it was. I have been depressed and anxious. I can’t focus. I can’t think straight. I’m constantly waiting for the next shoe to drop.

I feel alienated from people. Lonely. Broken.

I’m angry because I fought SO. HARD. through the rock-bottom pit of hell that was 2017…

I had just started to feel safe. I wasn’t obsessing over the past or worrying about the future. I was living. I was embracing life. I was open to possibilities. I was all *positive vibes*.

But now I’m struggling again.

Dealing with my parents’ estate is torture. They were smart–everything was deeded to the trust. Every property, vehicle, trailer and boat. Nothing going to probate. Take heed and for all my IF friends who are parents now, make a will and/or trust so your spouse and kid(s) are not screwed when you die.

But my sister and I have never gotten along and now we are co-trustees and must divide everything in half. Meanwhile, there are 20-something properties that need to be managed and bills that need to be paid. And we have to fix up and sell “the big house” (our family home) to settle debts so we can dissolve the trust. It’s daily stress. It’s a daily reminder that both my parents are dead and that I am going to die. And BG is not tolerant of me being on my phone talking or texting, etc. She relentlessly pesters me and then has meltdowns when I snap at her. I can barely force myself to think about or do any of the drudgery associated with the estate, and with BG agitating me I feel like I might lose my mind. I need to put her in preschool and I have her enrolled in one but it doesn’t start until the fall. And I do not even have the stomach to vet preschools right now. I am looking at summer camps but that’s a week here-and-there. Oh and I dread having to take BG back to the midwest with me *without Mr. MLACS* to deal with this estate BS. F*ing nightmare. That is a 12hr car ride easch way, which I cannot do alone so I’ll have to split into 2 says–that is 4 days of travel. Just shoot me.

But I’m rich now. So there’s that. Not a “one percent-er” or filthy rich–like mansion/servants, car and driver, private plane and NY fashion week rich. But like, I will have a monthly income from my trust and it is legacy wealth that I can pass on to BG.

I’d give it all to have my Mom back though.

To have both my parents back, because our family was functionally-dysfunctional until my Mom got sick, which brought out the worst in my dad.

I’d give anything to be one big happy family.

I want peace in my life again. I want to feel like everything is going to be ok.

I am doing EFT tapping and trying to take care of myself, even though I don’t feel like showering or brushing my teeth or going to yoga or doing laundry or vacuming or anything. I’m sort of dead inside–dormant is a better word–I was starting to blossom but now I am dormant like a bulb in the winter. And I hate it.

So I am trying to claw my way out of this depression. I’m weak. I’m scared. I’m vulnerable. I’m confused. I’m frustrated. I’m emotionally drained. I’m distraught. I’m burdened. I’m defensive. I’m angry. I’m sad. I’m apathetic. I’m literally tied in knots and seeing a new chiropractor to try to unclench and untwist my poor body.

But I haven’t given up hope yet. And I’m trying to get better.

XOXO,

MLACS

 

Earth to Earth, Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust 💔

Last Thursday morning, Mr. MLACS woke me up around 4am to tell me my sister had tried to call me five times since 3am. I knew it was going to be bad news. Both my maternal Grandma and my Father had been in the hospital–but both were supposed to be recovering.

My Father died.

It was surreal. I sat on the floor of my bedroom closet so as not to wake up BG, who was sleeping in our bed. I didn’t cry, I just listened to my sister talk. He had prostate cancer (I knew this) but it was not very serious so they had not been treating it. However, they did a biopsy on it a few weeks ago and punctured his urethra in the process, which caused an infection. Once they realized their mistake, they then gave him the *wrong antibiotics*. As it turns out he had an E. Coli infection, and so the wrong antibiotics made it much worse. When they finally realized they had f*cked up royally, they admitted him to the VA hospital. He was so sick he didn’t even tell anyone he was going. My sister tracked him down, and visited him. He seemed ok. Nurses checked him at 2am–he was fine–they returned at 2:38am and found him dead on the floor…asphyxiated…

While it looks like gross negligence, I feel in my heart that he chose his moment and it was his time. His quality of life was not good. He was 69, morbidly obese with limited mobility, living alone, on the rocks with his girlfriend, and spent a lot of time watching tv and eating junk food. He was social on occassion, but far less than usual. He couldn’t see or hear well, and he couldn’t walk up or down stairs. A lot of his friends said they were surprised he was gone, that they had just seen him. But anyone with any common sense could see that he was declining and had a host of health issues/risk factors.

It would have been 4 years this month, since I had spoken to him. Except…

When Mr. MLACS collapsed and nearly died and I was having my colectomy in October, he sent my sister to my side, offering to pay her expenses, telling her to go and help me. An act of love and compassion.

I has sworn I’d never speak to him again. He was dead to me. He had caused me So. Much. Pain. during my Mom’s illness (which I forgave him) and then again years later during my battle with infertillity and loss. He was a crap father when I was young and proved incapable of having a healthy adult relationship. So I was done. The final straw was my child was born and we lived 15 minutes from him and he never even tried to contact me or see her. We moved to the South when she was 18 months old–by then I was so angry and hurt I vowed he’d never lay eyes on her. I threatened to cut off my sister if she so much as mentioned him.

But she had let me know he wanted to make peace with me, and then he financed her trip to help me this past October. So, I decided to call him and thank him in November. That was the last time I spoke to him. We communicated through my sister and I gave her permission to show him pictures of BG and keep him up to date on my little family. I was still very hesitant to reach out to him. I didn’t have the energy to forge a new relationship with him–I was struggling to heal from my surgery and Mr. MLACS’s cardiac arrest and moving into our house and being a wife and mother, etc. My sister did warn me that she didn’t think he’d be around much longer, but I was not going to be guilted or rushed.

And while yes, I wish things had been different, I don’t regret being distant from him. It wasn’t my job to make him happy at my own expense. It wasn’t my obligation to serve my daughter up so he could have his “grandpa experience” before he died. And I’m glad my kid was spared grief and loss.

As you know, I lost my dear departed Mother to breast/lung cancer in 2009. So I am an “adult orphan”. I miss her every day. She was amazing. She had a home daycare and LOVED kids…

I loaded up Mr. MLACS, BG, and our labrador retriever and drove all day Thursday, stopped for a few hours of sleep, and arrived just in time to meet my sister at the cemetary to pay for the portion of his burial not covered. In the process, I purchased the 2 cemetery plots next to my mother, where Mr. MLACS and I can be buried someday (hopefully many years from now, but God only knows).

We are staying at my family home and it’s both comforting and sorrowful. So many good memories of when we were a happy family before my Mom’s diagnosis in 2006 (albeit dysfunctional in our own way). When I see my daughter coloring at the same table where the daycare kids used to sit, and opening the gate to the downstairs where the daycare kids used to play…it’s just so unfair that she never got to be a grandma to BG. It breaks my heart. And she was the glue that held our family together, so if she was here I wouldn’t have fallen out with my father. We could have been one big happy family…

**I had to break down and cry here**

I grieve what might have been, but will never be.

And despite our differences, my dad was a pretty cool guy. He was a lame dad, but a pretty awesome person. My sister and I were under a tremendous amount of pressure to memorialize him and bury him with proper ceremony. He had literally been preparing us for his death since we were 12 years old. He was a successful business man and local bluegrass musician who lived and died in his hometown, so people were watching–most especially, the man himself, I was sure.

He thought it was best for person to be buried within 3 days of their death, so visitation was Sunday. I had a sitter for BG because 1. This was no place for a toddler, and 2. My Dad never met her so it felt wrong for any of his friends and family to meet her. Yet everyone asked me where she was, wtf?! Everyone knew we were estranged and it made the visitation uncomfortable for me, but I hung in there. I looked and acted dignified, as did my sister. It was sad and bittersweet to watch the memorial slideshow of all our happy moments as a family. They played one of his bluegrass cd’s he made of him singing and playing guitar…

Then finally the funeral was yesterday (Monday). Of course we have not had much sleep and not slept well, and poor BG woke up at 3am coughing so hard she vomited and burning up with fever. I had to send Mr. MLACS to get tylenol for her. I somehow managed to pull myself together and look nice for the funeral. I hated to leave BG with a sitter when she was not feeling well.

The service opened with his bluegrass buddies playing “Amazing Grace”–of course I cried. The pastor spoke and then I stood up and tearfully read what I had written at 3am when I was up with BG:

“My Dad was a passionate man. Passionate about life, and love. He was a man of leisure, and he had many pleasures. He enjoyed good company, and he was excellent company.

He was lighthearted, but soulful. He had a lot of corny jokes and anecdotes, but he would also wax poetic for hours, sharing his philosophies on life–he was deep. His definition of success, was happiness. And he was a happy, jovial man. If you asked him how he was, one of his standard replies was “I’m effervescing, my bubbles are all the way to the top!” He had a generous nature, and enjoyed treating people. He was always there for a friend in need, without expecting anything in return. He was diplomatic, and underneath his airy fascade, he was a very intelligent man. He appreciated his mentors and was himself, a mentor to a great many people. He liked to say “Those who can DO, can’t teach”, and he considered himself a “do’er”, but ironically, he was also a very good teacher. He would be proud to be remembered as a renaissance man–a man of many talents. Most prominently, a musician. The best time of his life was when he was living out of his car, playing music on the road with my mom by his side. He spoke wistfully of this part of his life where he had his passion–music–his freedom, and his soul mate. There are pitifully few people in this world that can say their dreams were realized, but my father was one of the lucky ones. He ticked every box on his “bucket list”, and more.
And that’s how he wants to be remembered. As a man of substance, who had an abundance of joy and shared it with the people around him. He is gone, but could never be forgotten.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. May he rest in peace.”
My sister said it was perfect and I’d said everything she’d wanted to say. Others agreed it was a good homage to him. My sister spoke, as did his best friend. The service closed with the bluegrass band playing “I’ll Fly Away” and we all sang along. It was just as he would have wanted.
And now we have the monumental task of dealing with the estate. My father was a smart business man and he left us a lot of properties. He was well organized, but it’s still a lot to deal with. I don’t feel like dealing with it, but I must. To his credit, Mr. MLACS has been invaluable in this process. I simply couldn’t do it without him.
Now I’m more terrified than ever that I’ll lose Mr. MLACS. He’s doing well but I’ve nearly lost him twice in the last 3 years, so it’s not just me being paranoid.
I love my hometown and want to be here to sort through the estate with my sister, but I long for my house in the South. Being here at my family’s home was precious for a couple of days but it is physically unconfortable (the guest beds suck) and emotionally draining–now it feels cumbersome. I’m completely exhausted. I’m overwhelmed. And both myself and BG are out of sorts and miss our “routine”. We have to interview and hire an estate lawyer tomorrow, and a few other things, but then I intend to leave on Thursday. I have been planning BG’s 3rd birthday party on her actual bday next Sunday, complete with a bouncy housw and goodie bags, etc. And I want to take a break from grieving and celebrate my greatest gift, my baby girl ❤

 

The Hardest Thing I Ever Did…

I just wasn’t ready to write about this before now…I’m f*ing bawling and I haven’t even started…

Ok, so on February 4, 2013 I woke up and took a perfunctory HPT and almost died when I saw two lines. Totally unexpected. I was totally terrified because my Ulcerative Colitis was ‘flaring’ and my doctors had cautioned me time and again to “Be sure my disease is under control BEFORE I get pregnant because it will most likely become worse in pregnancy”. I thought my body was smart enough to know better than to get pregnant when I’m already bleeding (from my anus). I also thought that I wouldn’t get pregnant since we’d only had sex ONE time all month (due to my health issues). I told Mr. MLACS not to get excited because I was worried this wouldn’t work out. I felt sick–I was freezing cold and exhausted and fuzzy-brained and my colon was bleeding (I later found out I was suffering the symptoms of hypothyroid in addition to my UC). So of course, he went out and told EVERYBODY at his work. I was apprehensive but decided to treat the pregnancy as though everything was going to be fine.

For Valentines Day, Mr. MLACS gave me a gift certificate to a pregnancy spa for a prenatal massage, along with several sessions of prenatal yoga. I went to one session with a friend who was 32 weeks along at the time, and the yoga instructor looked appalled when I told her I was only 6 weeks along–she acted like I was crazy for coming to the prenatal class. I understood after I took the class, because it was so easy that a brisk walk would’ve been more useful to me. But I got the distinct feeling the yoga instructor was also intoning that I should be concerned about miscarriage and that it was too early to embrace my pregnancy. After I had my miscarriage at 7w2d, I understood…

So, hopefully you’ve read the story about my friend, Dee (click ‘Dee’ to read) becoming pregnant quite soon after my miscarriage. It hurt. We both lived in the Southwest and met because our husbands work for the same company and were working on a project together–we were both strangers in a strange land. But though I trusted her, she was hard to get close to. We were talking every day and then after my miscarriage I hardly talked to her and never saw her…only later I found out it was because she was in the first weeks of her pregnancy. Then a couple of times she went home to visit her family in the East Coast and didn’t call or text me at all while she was gone (for a month each time), even though I tried to keep contact with her. I knew I wasn’t being rejected, but still, how could we go from talking every day to no talking for a month? Anyhow, I sucked it up and would hang out with her and her pregnant belly. I felt sorry for her puking ALL DAY (Hyperemesis Gravidarum) EVERY DAY through her second trimester. I offered to keep her son (who I adored) when she went to prenatal appointments. I went shopping for baby clothes with her. I didn’t stop her when she gushed about all the great stuff she scored at the baby swap meet, or her nursery theme. And to her credit, she listened to me lament my health issues and talk about trying to conceive–she encouraged me.

I felt like maybe I should give Dee my prenatal massage gift certificate…but then I thought “No, Mr. MLACS wanted me to have it” and “I should be pregnant before we move so then I can use it”. I mean…I got pregnant by dumb luck once, so, it should be easy, right?

I did not get my second BFP until the end of July. The line was veeeery faint, and I was cautiously optimistic, and I thought “Statistically this pregnancy should work, odds are in my favor”…but alas, my beta was 5…how the hell did I even see a line? FRER’s are amazing, IMO. I started my period right on time, but it was THE most painful period I’ve ever had, worse than my first miscarriage, so I call my “Chemical Pregnancy” a Miscarriage…Also, I went to see my RE for a scan before starting Clomid …he saw a sac in my uterus…I wish he had never told me that he saw something. I had already been reading IF blogs because my friend Steph Mignon writes one. Also, Steph had just done her first IUI and fallen pregnant! I KNEW, that we could not possibly be so fortunate as to enjoy our pregnancies together. My life is full of hubris. The blogs I read told of nothing but heartache and failure (although almost all of the bloggers I started reading 9 months ago are pregnant now). I realized that my journey to motherhood was not “normal”, and I was (as per usual) in the minority statistic of women who struggle to conceive and carry a baby. My head hung low and my heart was broken–I felt broken.

I now had to come to terms that we wouldn’t be conceiving before we left…well I’ll just say it..Las Vegas. I had purchased a little onsie on Freemont Street that says “I’m What Happened In Vegas!” as a gesture of optimism that we would conceive while living in Vegas and I imagined holding it across my pregnant belly in our pregnancy announcement (this was before I started resenting pregnancy announcements). I realized that I would not need that prenatal massage gift certificate…THAT broke my heart…remembering how excited Mr. MLACS was when he brought it home to me…how he’d kissed my belly and rubbed my feet and told everyone in his path that he was going to be a daddy…I had been clutching that gift certificate with the belief that it was meant for me and my rainbow, but I was moving 1,482 miles away with no prospect of a rainbow…

And of course I knew, that the only right thing to do was to give it to Dee, because she was 7 months pregnant and also moving across the country WITH a potty training toddler…she deserved it. But GOD was it hard…I was jealous of her…then I felt guilty…but it’s SO unfair…what if I just threw the gift certificate away, as a symbol of throwing my dreams away…giving Dee the gift certificate felt like I was handing her MY dream…and wasn’t she already beyond blessed???

I was with Dee in the car one day and she mentioned getting a prenatal massage…and I took a deep breath…and I said “Well, you know Mr. MLACS gave me a gift certificate….and I’m not going to use it…and I wanted to get you something anyways…so I’d like to give it to you as my gift.” And I was so awkward and heavy with my words…Dee urged me that I could still use the massage even though I’m not pregnant, but I said no, that I was already getting a massage somewhere else and I wanted her to enjoy it. And I got out of her car. And I walked in my house. And I fell to my knees on my kitchen floor sobbing so hard no sound would come out. And I couldn’t stop crying for hours. And I talked to my dear departed Mother, and I talked to God, and I hugged my cat, and Mr. MLACS came home to find me crumpled on the couch.

Giving Dee that gift certificate was the hardest thing I ever did, and I’ve done A LOT of hard sh*t. I’m pretty hardcore actually.

There are two good things that came of this experience:

1. Making this sacrifice made me feel like I have good character.

2. I did something nice for my friend Dee, and even though I didn’t tell her how I felt, she knew it pained me and I know she appreciated that I gave it from my heart.

And now, at 7:30am EST on December 5th, 2013, her daughter will enter the world via C-section. And I’m happy for Dee. But it brought up this story, which I had meant to tell you about already but just never found the strength until now.

XO