WARNING: Potentially Triggering Content
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So much has happened since my last blog update! I plan to flesh out these stories into a Sweets Series whenever this whirlwind stops enough for me to do so. In the meantime, here are the delicious tidbits of what went down after my post, "Found in Loss," where I share about our miscarriage at seven weeks back in early April:
April Twice-Baked Croissant - I flew back to Charlotte to try a second round of IVF
May Better Than Sex Bars - Dreamt up a wild idea, and it'll soon be my new business
June Pain au Lait - The distance nearly demolished our marriage, but we made it
July Berry Danish - My friend Dana flew with me to the UK; her advice was... perfect
Aug. Spotted Dick - Does size really matter? How I know my husband won't lie to me
Sept. Birthday Cake - Thoughts as I turn 41 and have my 9-year-wedding anniversary
Here we are in October of 2023, and while I'm not a superstitious woman, Friday the 13th landing in the same month as Halloween made it feel undeniably spooky. I wasn't worried, though! Things have been going so well in my life as of late. I couldn't ask for a better partner, our pregnancy is progressing well, my daughter started kindergarten (what the British call reception year), and I've lost almost 30 pounds by getting three miles of walking in every day by taking her to and from school. Plus, my dear cousin Taikobian, who is ten years my junior but somehow still my identical twin, was coming to visit us for the weekend. What could possibly go wrong?
This would be a much-needed vacation for Kobi, who had just experienced a truly harrowing ordeal at her job in hospitality with a major hotel chain in Boston. She hit me up a few weeks ago to relay that she was asked to do a wellness check on a guest who hadn't responded to his wife's calls. She knocks. No answer. She opens the door and hears the shower running, but the time-delay lights are off. Bad sign. She begrudgingly walks into the bathroom, triggering the lights, revealing a man slumped over on his knees with water still streaming over his downbent head.
She turned off the shower and took a closer look, but she knew right away that he had expired. Kobi lamented that she would never forget how purple his hands and face were from where the blood had pooled for a long while. It made him look elderly, so when Emergency Services prompted her to find his identification, she was doubly surprised to discover that the man was only 42 years old.
I tried my best to offer her reassurance and to just listen, but it was a really helpless feeling not being able to give her a big hug and console her in person. Especially as she shared her devastation at having to field calls from the man's worried wife without being the one to spill that her worst suspicions had come true. I was so sad for Kobi, that I didn't reflect on how her tale was landing on me. Not until I went to sleep, anyway.
One of the weirdest pregnancy symptoms that no one really warns you about is the nightmares! From just about day one of my IVF procedure, my already crazy dreams became even more vivid, over-the-top, and ultra-realistic. That night, I dreamt that my 42-year-old husband, the undisputed love of my life, my genuine better half and partner in crime, the father of my children, confidant, and best friend, Christopher Partlow, had passed away. I had to tell our daughter. I was inconsolable at the funeral. When I was finally able to go back to work, I couldn't keep it together when someone asked about him. I curled up in a ball on the kitchen floor and cried my eyes out, thinking about how he'd never meet his new baby...
And that's how I woke up. In a ball, wrapped around my tiny bump, bawling my eyes out! He woke up, like, "Are you okay?" After several stuttery gulps of air, I said, "NO! I just dreamed that you died!" and proceeded to cry in his arms for almost an hour. The relief I felt was overwhelming, but the hole that was punched into my heart took all morning to lose its rawness. When I finally told Kobi that I was happy she could share her trauma with me, but that her story fucked me right up, she said, "Oh oh no, he was nothing like Chris! That guy was kind of a piece of shit."
Apparently, his wife had kicked him out, and he'd died of a massive injectable drug overdose. In other words, I didn't need to worry that Chris would suddenly succomb at such a young age. That made me feel much better, but also kind of like a piece of shit myself. Like, oh thank goodness that guy sorta killed himself. But still. I get the sentiment of the book "Me Before You" so much more now. Truly feeling the loss insta-gelled me more firmly into this marriage because there was absolutely no thought of the "next one" at all. I knew in that moment that I would never in my life find a better man or partner than Chris.
My husband is so ridiculously wholesome. He routinely sends me reels of cute puppies and isn't averse to saying, "Awww!" or gushing over chubby babies. And yet, he gets every single dirty joke my gutter mind can throw at him. He returned to school recently, got his degree, and started working not too long ago, which completely flip-flopped our household roles. I haven't worked since November of 2022, so I became the stay-at-home parent and took over cooking dinner, doing laundry, and managing school runs. This worked out perfectly because Kobi would arrive at the optimal time to accompany me to pick Cloud up that Friday, the 13th of October.
After spending a few days in London, my sweet cousin boarded her train to Ipswich and taxied in with just enough time to drop off her bags and join me on my second 20-minute trek of the day to the primary school. We walked around to my daughter's classroom to retrieve her, and she excitedly gave Kobi the biggest hug. There's a lovely little community playground right outside the campus, so we headed over to let Cloud play with her friends for a bit before doing some shopping, grabbing a bite, popping into town, or just going back home. Whatever Kobi wanted to do!
We're not at the park for fifteen minutes before I witness a seven- or eight-year-old little boy rear back and Sparta-kick my tiny little baby girl in her shoulder as she was going down the slide. My heart plummeted as I watched my daughter's feet full-scorpion over her head as she toppled over the rim from midway up, which was a fairly considerable height! I was running toward her from the opposite side, even before I heard her thud heavily onto the ground. She was already wailing as I rounded the base of the slide.
I planted my left leg and pivoted to get around to her, but my right foot felt like it came down on a solid sheet of ice, and I slipped. My entire body's momentum kept me in motion as I twisted around and crashed down onto my left side, folding my ankle over, and slamming my face onto the pavement so hard that I heard and felt my glasses crunch into my skin. At least Cloud stopped crying, but her terrified "MOMMY!!!" was almost as painful as my fall.
Kobi had gotten over to me a few seconds later, as well as Anna, a fellow adoptive mom I've become good friends with via our daughters. I could not move for several breaths but was able to roll onto my back after a moment and eventually sit up. The stabbing jolt this sent through my left ankle made me cry out, but I immediately shut my mouth and tried to chuckle it off for the half dozen four-year-olds who were looking at me in horror. I saw the older boy who dropkicked Cloud in the first place, and any anger I harbored toward him evaporated. He looked absolutely distraught and said he was sorry. "It's okay, baby."
I smiled at the other children in turn, some of whom I knew by name from Cloud's class. "I'm alright, friends. I just need a minute. Don't worry!" Kobi and Anna asked if I could stand, but I really did need a little time. My ankle was on fire, but I could wiggle my toes in my now not-so-white Air Force Ones. I told them that I must have sprained it. Luckily, Anna had worked in a medical setting, so she quickly and carefully took my shoe off since she suspected it would swell too much for that to be any easier to accomplish later on. The entire time, my sweet Cloud was in my lap, entreating me to breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth. ❤️
I texted Chris while Anna secured us a ride home with another mom I adore, Melissa, who would drop off her little girl with a friend and come back for us. Kobi and Anna helped me to my feet, but I had to stop halfway to the car because I started to cry so hard from the pain. From the moment she took my shoe off to that point, Anna tried and tried to convince me to call an ambulance or at least head right to the hospital. She was concerned about the level of pain I was in and my pregnancy. I simply could not conceive of wasting anyone's time and energy further, given that I could wiggle my toes and hadn't landed on my belly. Besides, I read "What to Expect When You're Expecting," which specifically states that falling is highly unlikely to affect your baby.
48 hours later… I could not stand the pain any longer, plus the swelling hadn't abated at all. My poor cousin was only in Ipswich for less than an hour before I'd derailed her entire visit, but that Sunday, Kobi kindly looked after Cloud so that Chris and I could go to the hospital. I still didn't think it was anything serious since I could wiggle my toes. My hope was that they could wrap it properly for me since the blood flow to my foot whenever I stood up or put it down from an elevated position was the most excruciating thing I've ever felt in my life. After a couple of hours in A&E (UK for ER), we were transferred to their Urgent Care unit and seen right away. The nurse took a look and recommended an x-ray which revealed:
A complete fracture of the fibula. In other words, I was walking around for two whole days with a broken fucking leg! I was simultaneously impressed and disgusted with myself. Not even a week prior, I had an incredible conversation with my dear friend, J, a former EMT of 20 years and my new company's executive producer. After a Zoom meeting, he told me that he was happy to see me looking less green, and I was surprised that he could visibly discern how nauseated I had been. I'd finally gotten some prescription-grade nausea medication from my doctor… almost midway through my second trimester.
J asked me what took me so long to seek more advanced help, and without even thinking, I said, "Well, my mom has always suffered from Munchausen's or something. She's always fed off of the attention she receives from illness and injury, so I never like to draw attention to myself in that way. There's also a huge part of me that thinks that I won't be believed when I say I'm sick or hurting, as if people will think I'm only telling them to milk it." Hearing this stated out loud for the first time so matter-of-factly and succinctly shook me. I burst out crying.
“Aw, honey. You’re pregnant. Of course, you’ll get morning sickness and all the things. I’d believe you, Chris would believe you, and your doctors would believe you,” J replied. He went on to tell me that he knows who I am intrinsically and would never assume that I would be manipulative in that way. Besides, as an EMT, he’d seen people fake things all the time, so he would know. He lifted my spirits tremendously… and then I up and allow myself to suffer in silence for two days instead of getting my leg checked out.
A little while after I got my x-rays back and had been to the NHS's Orthopedic Clinic, I spoke with my therapist, Lynne, about it all. I told her of my inner struggles with fully understanding and owning up to a behavior that doesn’t serve me, but exhibiting that same behavior again as though I’d never had that epiphany. She told me not to be so hard on myself and that it would take practice and mindfulness.
I also felt horrible for perpetuating the stereotype that Black people feel less pain. When the orthopedic surgeon saw my x-rays, he exclaimed, “Wow, you must have a very high pain threshold!” No, I don’t. Pain tolerance, maybe, but that shit hurt so bad! It felt like I broke my leg because I broke my leg. Not to mention that I can’t really take anything to ease the pain because I’m pregnant. I was in pure agony.
Lastly, we discussed how I have to check my hubris with running in the opposite direction of how I was raised. I genuinely felt proud of how much I endured, and the mental masturbation of it all made me sick. You know those people who brag about getting no sleep or who have to Oprah your bad news with their even worse news? It was as though by suffering, I was storing an instant win in my pocket for a one-upmanship game that I would never even play.
These are very difficult truths that I am attempting to lift up and soothe within my psyche. In doing so, I became incredibly nervous about the baby in my belly. Had I underestimated the effects of my fall on them if I’d actually broken a bone when I’d assumed it was only a sprain? I was 20 weeks along but had yet to feel anything beyond a little “quickening,” and even that had subsided. Luckily, I had my anatomy scan soon, where the ultrasound technician looks at all of the organs and systems within the baby’s body.
Chris had already taken the day off of work to accompany me, and it bowled me over to learn how much trepidation he was holding onto. As soon as the radiologist put the wand to my tummy, “Are they okay? Everything’s okay?” spilled from his lips with tinges of worry and angst. 🥺 I wasn’t sure if that stemmed from my fall, my previous miscarriage, or both, but she quickly reassured him that the baby looked fine so far. In another moment, we heard the heartbeat, and their lovely little face was revealed on the screen. Then I, too, let out a sigh of relief.
Neither of us are keen on gender reveal parties, so we opted to find out the baby’s sex right then. I was very excited to learn whether we were having a boy, girl, or intersex child who could have a combination of both genitalia. Intersex people can also have varying chromosomal presentations, like the amazing Blume, who has XY chromosomes but has a vagina and presents as female. She has an internal set of testes, as well! I would be so honored to parent an intersex child. I’m sure it’s virtue signaling, so my apologies, but I genuinely feel that we would be able to provide the respect and support that someone in their unique position deserves.
<-- CLICK FOR OUR GENDER REVEAL: Boy, Girl, or Intersex?
I was hoping that the news would make the unreality of this pregnancy dissipate, but I haven’t found that to be the case. We learned that my placenta is in an anterior position, between the baby and my belly, which is why I haven’t felt much movement or kicking. Also, despite losing weight from all the walking I was doing before I fractured my ankle, I’m still a fluffy girl, so I do not actually look pregnant in any way, shape, or form. I’m sure once the baby arrives, things will have no choice but to click, but I do hope that happens a little bit before then. No matter what, I thank you for following along on this journey with me, and I will do my best to provide a new update soon!