Breaking The Silence

My Sister Saved My Life

I post a lot about my sister. It’s because I think about her a lot. I think about her life. I think about her death.

I have Survivors Guilt…. This is a real thing. However it is not revolving around her Death, it is more revolving around her life and the horrible events that happened to her as a child. My sister was sexually molested by a male relative who now lives out of the country. It started when she was 5, and lasted until she was 13. I was born when my sister was 5. Possibly a trigger for him, who really knows. Once things began to surface when my sister was older, it seemed as if most people in the family blamed her. They said she was lying, and treated her horribly. When my parents divorced, it seemed that they just let us (my sister and I) go too. I am 100% positive I am a better person because they let us go.

My sister was put into  mental hospital at the age of 16, they diagnosed her with, “split personality disorder”. Which I know understand is called “Dissociative Identity disorder”. WebMD has the definition as, “is thought to be an effect of sever trauma during early childhood, usually extreme, repetitive, physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.” As an 11 year old kid I didn’t understand the multiple trips to the mental hospital to visit my sister, I had no comprehension as to what was going on. I knew what they told me, and I knew that I wanted to be anywhere but there. I blamed my sister.

Lets fast forward in time…. a grown man who is dying of cancer with his guilt, comes and apologizes to my mother.  My mother knows exactly who he is, and why he is apologizing.  My sister during therapy, had told us about how the male relative had brought his friends over, and they had molested her too. This man who was apologizing was one of the men the male relative would bring over.  The man was scared, he knew his time was coming and the guilt was overwhelming.

So…..how did she save my life?

My mother has told me stories, of my sister always talking about, “protecting the baby”. I was the baby, my mother didn’t understand at the time. It all makes sense now… I remember my sister cuddling me to sleep at night, and always taking care of me. Much of this I repressed in my memory box somewhere safe…. When my sister became addicted to drugs, it was hard to stay close to her and those memories were good memories I didn’t want to remember, because it was so hard to distance myself from her. My survivors guilt comes from the years of torture she went through and I escaped. My life would be forever changed because those horrible acts never happened to me, and only her.

When my sister died, I was sad. Beyond sad. The grief was maddening…. But I also felt a sense of relief. She had lived a life in her own head for a long time…. She couldn’t escape the nightmare.

Her death occurred on 07/12/13, I can remember the day so vividly. I received a call from my father at 7:30 am. I knew something was wrong, someone was dead. I dropped to my knees when he told me, my chest felt like it might cave in….We were camping with my sisters middle son, and some friends. I caught my breath….and went in and watched him sleep for a few moments….. just a few more moments before I woke him and shattered his innocence. I woke him and told him she was dead. He laid in my lap for a few minutes and cried. I called my mother, and my brother (who already knew) went over to be with her as I told her on the phone. After talking to my mom, I called my sisters oldest son to tell him.   The autopsy revealed my sister died of an aneurysm.

We had spoke about a week prior to her death. She told me she was sick, and I encouraged her to go to the doctor, which she did and they sent her home. I believe the death of my sister encouraged me to attempt pregnancy, and ultimately conceive. Her death made me realize how short and precious life is. It made me re-evaluate whether or not I wanted to carry a baby. My sister had five babies, all of who she loved so much. Her past had made parenting almost impossible, but she loved them more than anything in this world.  Logan was conceived on 10/23/13, and born on 07/13/14. One year and one day after my sisters death. The saddest day of my life, gets to be followed by one of the happiest.

So what am I accomplishing by writing this blog?  I wanted to break the silence. So everyone and anyone who cares to read this  knows that my sister was amazing. So anyone who has survived childhood trauma knows you are not alone.

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Ouch, it always hurts 

 Logan had her 18 month well check today. Along with her weight/height/head circumference, a shot was involved. We all hate the shots, Logan hates it because it hurts and the rest of us hate it because Logan hurts. I think this shot I felt the worst with. When we entered the doctors office both kids were screaming (from memory of their last visit where shots were involved). Leo was screaming the loudest in fear of what was going on with Logan. I could see his mind turning, “dada why are they wrapping that thing around her head?” 
Once I let him out of the stroller, I believe he felt a little more in control and it eased his empathy pains for his sibling. Logan warmed up to the Doctor and even giggled a few times when the Doctor touched her stomach. As funny and talkative as Logan is on camera, she takes a long time to open up to people (which we’re totally fine with). At the end of the appointment the doctor let me know she needed one more vaccine to finish up until she is 4. I said yes let’s go ahead and get it done. Leo went out of the room with Mama, and I saw the fear arise from her eyes.  I told her exactly what was going to happen, and that it would be okay. We cuddled for a minute and then the nurse came in. Approximately 3 minutes after her shot, her red face was okay again and she was running around the waiting room.  Leo was making friends with a little girl and Logan was reading a book with Mama, all was back to normal. 

    
 

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Circle of Life 

My Grandpa died today 01/19/2016. I’m sure by the time I post this it will be tomorrow, I’ve been fumbling around in my brain about what to write. We visited him in December a few days before he was admitted to the hospital. The kiddos ran around his giant house and played with his TV remote. He told us about coming to California from the Ozarks. He also told us he was not afraid to die, that he had lived a good life, he knew he was 84 and had lots of medical issues. Some of my favorite memories of him are during the summers when he would take us for rides in his and my grandmas T-bird. They would put the top down and we would just go for a ride. My Grandpa was a farmer, my Dad was a farmer and I just always thought as a kid that’s what I would grow up to be. The thought of farming with them makes me happy, still to this day. He worked hard, and I believed that is how everyone works. We should all do the right thing and work hard to provide for our families. 

On our visit he told us how awesome it was that Anne was pursueing her dream of becoming a doctor. That he was proud of us. He always tells us to travel, I believe a love he got from Grandma Pat who died 2 years prior. I remember a funny conversation with both of them long before I was married. My grandma asked, “have you told your dad you are gay?” I said, “no should I?” She told me, “yes, he’s your dad he will still love you.” Grandpa said, “no leave your dad alone, of course he still loves you and I’m sure he already knows.” 

I’ve dealt with a lot of unexpected death in the last few years, but this one was expected. I knew when I saw him, there was a good chance it would be the last time. Sometimes you never get that opportunity. We all gave him a hug as we left. So Grandpa Bob, I love you and thank you for all the memories.  

 

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Lacking to write 

I rarely it seems have time to do much anymore which is perfectly fine. But today as I have two toddlers napping I decided to write. Logan is 14 months in a few days and Leo 12.5 months. Both walking around like crazy, telling me what time it is…. When it’s food time Logan says “cheese”. I’m beginning to believe this is her word for “food”. When it’s nap time they run to the bedroom door and Leo gets a little wimper. When they want to go for a walk they will go over to the stroller. They’re amazing in every way. They teach me every day to attempt to be more patient and kind. Leo will run over and ask me to pick him up, just so he can lay on my chest for a moment and then scatter off to a new adventure. Logan has learned to hug, so she will grab her brother and embrace him.

Right now I’m home with them 99.5% of the time. The other .5 is the rare moments when I get a minute to myself to go to target and wonder the isles, or read the newspaper.

Both kiddos are healthy and full of energy and we are so lucky in so many ways. I believe I’m happiest it worked out this way (having two babies), because they have each other. Siblings often forget in their age the love they feel for each other as children. Their built in friends. I hope they have each other for a long time, and always can count on each other.

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Moments of Fear

I have had plenty of time to process what happened in October when Anne was in the hospital and I thought I would write it all down…. She got very very ill one night with a high fever… A phone call to kaiser and they deemed it must be mastitis since she was breastfeeding and her breast hurt(of course they hurt she was breastfeeding two babies) We filled the prescription and she felt a little better…. We hoped that was it. We traveled to see family, meet grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins….. We drove North and eventually made our way to Grants Pass….. On our last night of travel while laying in bed. Anne said, “okay if I pass out please call 911.” My heart sank….. And I replied,  “Of course but if you feel that bad shouldn’t we just go to the ER”.  “No I just wanna make sure you know what to do”, she says. 
We drove home the next day and decided on the way, well your fever is back up we should stop in at the ER….. I dropped her off at the ER and my mom meets us there to stay with Anne….. Because I have 2 infants one who is almost 3 months and one about 7 weeks. I luckily had a good friend near by who allowed me to stay to wait to see the outcome of the ER visit. They agreed with us that they didn’t think it was mastitis and she now had a kidney infection….. But since she has 2 kids she should go home. They loaded her up with antibiotics and sent us on our way….
Next day her fever spikes….. We go to the ER again….. They keep her over night for observation and send her home the next day…. Within an hour of being home it happened again. Her friend was visiting so she began driving her to the hospital…. Within moments her stomach was in horrible pain so they called 911….. 
I don’t remember the number of times this happened where she went to the hospital and they sent her home for her to return within hours due to a spiking fever. “A fever of unknown origin”. 
This was my first experience with having to put the babies first over my wife…. It was a feeling I had to get used to. Until this moment I had not felt like I had to chose who to care for…. Because ultimately we all cared for each other. 
I stayed with the babies at Anne’s sisters house…. Scared and feeling extremely lost I couldn’t be at home without Anne it felt weird. Once they decided to keep Anne in the hospital I stayed home…. Anne’s mom flew home from the east coast and helped. People were generous and would come help with the babies during the day so I could go be with Anne. In all honesty a lot of it was just taking a nap in the hospital room while she slept…. I would then go home and take a shower and be with the kiddos…. Their confused little faces when I would come home alone without their Momma.
Anne spent a total of 10 nights away from us. The back pain and stomach pain was from a virus CMV…. Which in most people results in a cold…..but her liver and spleen were enlarged and she was “septic”. 
These moments as I listened to doctors talk in another language about what was wrong with my once energetic wife who ran races and was always on the go was now laying in a hospital bed missing her babies….
I had great moments of fear….. I thought about how beautiful our life was and how this is what we were suppose to do. Raise babies together….. I didn’t know how I would do it alone. They needed her love.
I needed her love.
She is so patient and kind. She never seems to get frustrated and is always encouraging. 
On day 10…. They sent her home. Still sick and tired but her fever had stayed down for the amount of time they needed it to. Her back still ached from her enlarged organs…..but they let her come home.
We all were anxious that night…. Awaiting for her fever to go up…. But it didn’t.
Their Momma was home. 💜
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We are a married couple both expecting babies…. July 16 and August 13

We are a same sex married couple. Experiencing pregnancy TOGETHER! Friends, family and even strangers have had a lot of questions for us. So we decided we would share these experiences!

We have decided to attempt to blog this experience. On that note I (Rae) am currently doing the blogging so we will always let you know who is doing the blogging. We are both having two different experiences, just having them together.  I conceived on October 23, 2013 and my wife (Anne) conceived on November 29, 2013. Approximately four weeks apart. Since conception, I have been sick, I had morning sickness and was nauseated beyond my control. My wife (Anne) always looks beautiful and maybe 10% of the time might feel a little sick to her stomach, but usually once she eats it goes away. I am grumpier (but this might not just be pregnancy). Anne looks beautiful and radiant with her little baby bump and I now look like a frat boy with a beer belly.

We started going to the Doctor in August of 2011. At this time Anne and I both got checked out by the Doctor to see if we were both fertile and could if we wanted to, get pregnant. The Doctor (who I hated from day one), told me that I should not bother trying to conceive. That I had PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome). He told me it was probably because I had too much testosterone or because I was overweight. I had every possible test ran on my body in regards to the hormone levels and they all came back perfectly normal (he assumed my short hair meant I had too much testosterone). I lost 30 pounds and kept this weight off. I wasn’t attached to carrying a child so I was ecstatic when they told us that my wife’s body was perfect for having babies. That we should have no issues getting pregnant with her. We had already picked a donor from the Sperm bank we had chosen so we decided to start trying.

The first month we tried we did IUI (Intra Uterine Insemination) with a trigger shot. We waited those awful two weeks of between insemination and when you use a pregnancy test and the test came back: NEGATIVE. We decided okay lets just try again. The Doctor pushed that we use hormones (the horrible doctor). We were very hesitant with Anne using hormones, considering she did not have a hormone imbalance and was in no way infertile. It seemed very unnecessary to us. So we said okay after him pushing… and bam now the hormones had messed up Anne’s cycle. He told us we could try anyways that month (since the Sperm had already been shipped), but Anne would need to take a different hormone to counter the effect of the first hormone. So we went ahead and tried. After another two weeks of horrible waiting we received another negative test.  After the horrible experience with the Doctor pushing hormones she didn’t need we decided maybe we should switch fertility specialist and go to a place that was more accepting of the LGBT community. We had heard amazing reviews of the San Francisco Kaiser fertility clinic. All things considered we really wanted a better doctor and someone who didn’t seem as close minded regarding how I looked. We then both got checked out again (just a second opinion basically) he told us by all the blood tests and the ultra sounds that Anne was all good, and he saw no need to use hormones. Unless we were not successful after several attempts without them. He told us that I would take a little longer, but that it was not something to get discouraged by and that if I wanted to conceive I could. I still was not set on actually carrying around a child for 9-10 months so we continued to try with Anne.

We used up the rest of the frozen sperm (with Anne), that we had purchased (3 additional vials on top of the 2 we already used). None of which resulted in a pregnancy. We were devastated, but both knew that when our time was right it would happen and that if it was never right it wouldn’t.  At this time we decided maybe we should look into using a “known donor”. Someone we knew who was willing to sign away their rights as a parent, but also willing to devote a lot of time and energy into helping us make our dreams come true of becoming parents. We asked the person who we had discussed at length and he said yes with no hesitation. We had all the medical tests ran that people have run, and started trying at home (yes its just how you imagine with a turkey baster, but we used small syringes). We did this for a few months with no success, even though we would try several days in a row each cycle to increase our chances of conception.

In April of 2013 we contacted the Doctor regarding using a, “known donor” at the hospital. The Doctor informed us that the laws in California had changed this year and they were now in fact doing IUI with known donors. All we had to do was get the appropriate tests done on the donor and also sign away liability. We were really excited and optimistic that this was now a choice for us. We were also excited for other couples because this could really help a lot of people, including LGBT community as well as infertile couples!

We tried a few times in the spring of 2013 at home and then at the Doctor’s office. In July of 2013 we were hit with a hard blow, my sister who was only 36 years old died unexpectedly. Most of July I spent sorting out funeral details and with my family and her children. In August of 2013 we were hit with another hard blow, my wife’s father died unexpectedly. My wife’s younger brother (15) came to live with us. Two deaths in less than a one month span. Two funerals, lots of lose ends, and more grief than we could have ever imagined.

We continued to try in September and again we received a negative test. In October we decided I would try. The Doctor recommended Clomid (hormone to induce ovulation), a trigger shot (to help the ovulation along) and an ultra sound 2 days prior to when they think insemination should occur in relation to when my cycle started. I went into the Doctor on October 22 for my ultra sound. Before the ultra sound they have you pee in a cup and check your ovulation. They found out I was ovulating early and would need to inseminate the next day. They nurse administered the trigger shot and they told me to come back the next day at 2:30pm. I was so nervous. I thought I had one more day to think about this!  Two weeks after insemination I took a pregnancy test, it came back negative. I was not surprised as they had told me it would be harder to conceive. On November 11th we had a birthday party for Anne’s little brother at the ropes course. I was feeling horrible this day and exhausted, I also didn’t want coffee. My first signs of pregnancy. I retested and there it was, the positive sign…. I may have almost passed out. We had been trying so hard now for two entire years with Anne and in one try for me it had worked.

We decided to keep trying with Anne the next month. Anne had always told me how amazing she thought it would be to carry together. I was never on board as I always imagined being the one who is supporting the pregnant wife, not being pregnant! In early November we talked to our amazing Doctor and we decided to do extra ultra sounds in order to really track the cycle and make sure insemination was on the correct day. We were beginning to doubt the accuracy of the Ovulation predictor kits we were using, because sometimes Anne was not getting a positive until very late in her cycle. We learned from our Doctor that as long as her period was coming 14 days after the positive ovulation test that a late ovulation was perfectly normal. We still wanted to be more sure of the timing of ovulation due to the varying lengths of Anne’s cycle. We drove to San Francisco on 3 different dates to check her follicles (eggs), due to this variance. On the the third visit he said he believed that due to the size of the eggs that she would ovulate within the next 24-48 hours.  She had two follicles that ovulated that month, and we believe this may be the reason for the long cycle as most women only release one follicle or egg per month. We used a trigger shot and went into the Doctor on November 29th for insemination. This was the Friday after Thanksgiving, the Doctor was the only medical staff we saw in the office that day. He had given most of his staff the day off for the holiday.  Anne was on day 24 of her cycle, so we did not have high hopes of it working because it seemed so late. Five days later Anne began feeling heartburn and this was the first time in her life that she felt this sensation. We were optimistic that this was a sign that it had finally worked. Although we were eager to take a pregnancy test, we waited until 14 days after insemination.

On December 13th, 2014 we met for lunch and went for a little hike. Anne took a pregnancy test, we waited anxiously which seemed like an eternity until the word PREGNANT popped up. We were excited beyond belief! This was the beginning of a whole new journey, here we come!

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We are a married couple both expecting babies…. July 16 and August 13

We are a same sex married couple. Experiencing pregnancy TOGETHER! Friends, family and even strangers have had a lot of questions for us. So we decided we would share these experiences! 

We have decided to attempt to blog this experience. On that note I (Rae) am currently doing the blogging so we will always let you know who is doing the blogging. We are both having two different experiences, just having them together.  I conceived on October 23, 2013 and my wife (Anne) conceived on November 29, 2013. Approximately four weeks apart. Since conception, I have been sick, I had morning sickness and was nauseated beyond my control. My wife (Anne) always looks beautiful and maybe 10% of the time might feel a little sick to her stomach, but usually once she eats it goes away. I am grumpier (but this might not just be pregnancy). Anne looks beautiful and radiant with her little baby bump and I now look like a frat boy with a beer belly. 

We started going to the Doctor in August of 2011. At this time Anne and I both got checked out by the Doctor to see if we were both fertile and could if we wanted to, get pregnant. The Doctor (who I hated from day one), told me that I should not bother trying to conceive. That I had PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome). He told me it was probably because I had too much testosterone or because I was overweight. I had every possible test ran on my body in regards to the hormone levels and they all came back perfectly normal (he assumed my short hair meant I had too much testosterone). I lost 30 pounds and kept this weight off. I wasn’t attached to carrying a child so I was ecstatic when they told us that my wife’s body was perfect for having babies. That we should have issues getting pregnant with her. We had already picked a donor from the Sperm bank we had chosen so we decided to start trying. 

The first month we tried we did IUI (Intra Uterine Insemination) with a trigger shot. We waited those awful two weeks of between insemination and when you use a pregnancy test and the test came back: NEGATIVE. We decided okay lets just try again. The Doctor pushed that we use hormones (the horrible doctor). We were very hesitant with Anne using hormones, considering she did not have a hormone imbalance and was in no way infertile. It seemed very unnecessary to us. So we said okay after him pushing… and bam now the hormones had messed up Anne’s cycle. He told us we could try anyways that month (since the Sperm had already been shipped), but Anne would need to take a different hormone to counter the effect of the first hormone. So we went ahead and tried. After another two weeks of horrible waiting we received another negative test.  After the horrible experience with the Doctor pushing hormones she didn’t need we decided maybe we should switch fertility specialist and go to a place that was more accepting of the LGBT community. We had heard amazing reviews of the San Francisco Kaiser fertility clinic. All things considered we really wanted a better doctor and someone who didn’t seem as close minded regarding how I looked. We then both got checked out again (just a second opinion basically) he told us by all the blood tests and the ultra sounds that Anne was all good, and he saw no need to use hormones. Unless we were not successful after several attempts without them. He told us that I would take a little longer, but that it was not something to get discouraged by and that if I wanted to conceive I could. I still was not set on actually carrying around a child for 9-10 months so we continued to try with Anne.

We used up the rest of the frozen sperm (with Anne), that we had purchased (3 additional vials on top of the 2 we already used). None of which resulted in a pregnancy. We were devastated, but both knew that when our time was right it would happen and that if it was never right it wouldn’t.  At this time we decided maybe we should look into using a “known donor”. Someone we knew who was willing to sign away their rights as a parent, but also willing to devote a lot of time and energy into helping us make our dreams come true of becoming parents. We asked the person who we had discussed at length and he said yes with no hesitation. We had all the medical tests ran that people have run, and started trying at home (yes its just how you imagine with a turkey baster, but we used small syringes). We did this for a few months with no success, even though we would try several days in a row each cycle to increase our chances of conception. 

In April of 2013 we contacted the Doctor regarding using a, “known donor” at the hospital. The Doctor informed us that the laws in California had changed this year and they were now in fact doing IUI with known donors. All we had to do was get the appropriate tests done on the donor and also sign away liability. We were really excited and optimistic that this was now a choice for us. We were also excited for other couples because this could really help a lot of people, including LGBT community as well as infertile couples! 

We tried a few times in the spring of 2013 at home and then at the Doctor’s office. In July of 2013 we were hit with a hard blow, my sister who was only 36 years old died unexpectedly. Most of July I spent sorting out funeral details and with my family and her children. In August of 2013 we were hit with another hard blow, my wife’s father died unexpectedly. My wife’s younger brother (15) came to live with us. Two deaths in less than a one month span. Two funerals, lots of lose ends, and more grief than we could have ever imagined. 

We continued to try in September and again we received a negative test. In October we decided I would try. The Doctor recommended Clomid (hormone to induce ovulation), a trigger shot (to help the ovulation along) and an ultra sound 2 days prior to when they think insemination should occur in relation to when my cycle started. I went into the Doctor on October 22 for my ultra sound. Before the ultra sound they have you pee in a cup and check your ovulation. They found out I was ovulating early and would need to inseminate the next day. They nurse administered the trigger shot and they told me to come back the next day at 2:30pm. I was so nervous. I thought I had one more day to think about this!  Two weeks after insemination I took a pregnancy test, it came back negative. I was not surprised as they had told me it would be harder to conceive. On November 11th we had a birthday party for Anne’s little brother at the ropes course. I was feeling horrible this day and exhausted, I also didn’t want coffee. My first signs of pregnancy. I retested and there it was, the positive sign…. I may have almost passed out. We had been trying so hard now for two entire years with Anne and in one try for me it had worked. 

We decided to keep trying with Anne the next month. Anne had always told me how amazing she thought it would be to carry together. I was never on board as I always imagined being the one who is supporting the pregnant wife, not being pregnant! In early November we talked to our amazing Doctor and we decided to do extra ultra sounds in order to really track the cycle and make sure insemination was on the correct day. We were beginning to doubt the accuracy of the Ovulation predictor kits we were using, because sometimes Anne was not getting a positive until very late in her cycle. We learned from our Doctor that as long as her period was coming 14 days after the positive ovulation test that a late ovulation was perfectly normal. We still wanted to be more sure of the timing of ovulation due to the varying lengths of Anne’s cycle. We drove to San Francisco on 3 different dates to check her follicles (eggs), due to this variance. On the the third visit he said he believed that due to the size of the eggs that she would ovulate within the next 24-48 hours.  She had two follicles that ovulated that month, and we believe this may be the reason for the long cycle as most women only release one follicle or egg per month. We used a trigger shot and went into the Doctor on November 29th for insemination. This was the Friday after Thanksgiving, the Doctor was the only medical staff we saw in the office that day. He had given most of his staff the day off for the holiday.  Anne was on day 24 of her cycle, so we did not have high hopes of it working because it seemed so late. Five days later Anne began feeling heartburn and this was the first time in her life that she felt this sensation. We were optimistic that this was a sign that it had finally worked. Although we were eager to take a pregnancy test, we waited until 14 days after insemination. 

On December 13th, 2014 we met for lunch and went for a little hike. Anne took a pregnancy test, we waited anxiously which seemed like an eternity until the word PREGNANT popped up. We were excited beyond belief! This was the beginning of a whole new journey, here we come! 

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