Saturday, October 31, 2015

This time last year.

We are days away from Lydia's first birthday.  Just 6 days away.

Which means, this time last year, my life was intact.

Justin and I took Benjamin the dragon trick-or-treating.  We talked about how Lydie would be with us next year, wondered what she would dress up as.  A neighbor gave me an extra piece of candy "for the baby."

Justin and I spent the weekend playing furniture Tetris, trying to figure out how to fit the glider and the changing table and the crib into such a small room.  We started to hang up the decor, including the "Lydia, you are my sunshine" print.

I continued collecting the perfect blue and green combinations to fill up my baby girl's closet.

We were counting down the days until she joined our family, thinking that these days with only Benjamin were numbered.

Most of all, I remember that I was really happy.

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I keep thinking about this time last year.

I'm trying to remember what it felt like to be that happy.  That innocent.

To not be completely jaded.

To believe that good things happened to good people.

To believe that I had some semblance of control over my life.  Control over my children.  Control over my body.

To believe that stupid platitude that things happen for a reason.

To feel comforted by statistics.

To be able to have normal conversations with old friends.

To be able to really smile for photos, to not feel like such a faker.

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In my hard moments, I can't imagine I'll ever be truly happy again.

I'm in love with my son and my youngest daughter (and my husband, of course).

But there's this longing, this unfulfillment, this emptiness that resides within me.

There's this constant missing.

The tears have been coming so easily recently.




_____________________________

I noticed the other day that I have wrinkles.

I think the last year has aged me a million years.

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Maybe I shouldn't write in the roughest moments.
Maybe I should wait for the tough times to pass.
Maybe I should wait until I get more sleep, until I feel less anxious.
Maybe I should wait until I am feeling more at peace.

I just can't stop thinking about this time last year.

________________________________________________

How do you celebrate the first birthday when your daughter died before she was born?

Do you decorate a cake?  Do you sing?

Do you look at photographs of her, make the blurry images in your mind sharp once more?

Do you look up at the stars and tell her how much you love her, and beg that she can hear you?

_____________________________________

How do you get through the one-year anniversary of the worst day of your life, the day you found out her heart had stopped beating?

I guess the answer to this question is:
The same way I have somehow gotten through the 360 days since then.

One moment at a time.

______________________________________

I just really miss my girl.

And I really miss the life I led until November 5, 2014.






Friday, October 23, 2015

On the complexities of now.

There's a fresh level of grief right now.  I am missing Lydia more fiercely than I have in a long time.   
I just can't help but notice the space where she should be.

I think I had been so focused on my fear and anxiety for Bowie that I couldn't concentrate on my grief for Lydie.  And now it's back with a vengeance.  

And I'm having all these "firsts" with Josie that I didn't get to have with Lydie.  

One of the toughest parts about this is that others don't seem to expect it.  Any one who is not in the loss community seems to think things should be better for us now.  That we should only be happy. I am really hoping that they don't think we are "fixed."  

But I wonder... because we have gotten cards in the mail congratulating Heather, Justin, and Ben but making no mention of Lydie.  And people who disappeared about a year ago are showing up now, making no mention of how broken we've still are.

It hurts when others don't recognize Lydia as part of our family.  

Don't get me wrong, I am happy.  I'm also more sad than I've been in a long time.  

__________________________________

I watch Benjamin with his littlest sister -- he is loving being able to act on his big brother responsibilities.  He has been better behaved than I've ever seen.  His favorite new activity is to sit next to Josephine and read to her (and he doesn't really need help either!  What a smarty-pants boy). 

"No pictures, Mom" - Ben

The result of Mom replying, "What if I show the picture to your girlfriends, can you smile for them?"


I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, but the most jealousy I have seen is when I was taking photos of Josie and he asked me to take his photo too.  And then he actually posed.  Which I have been trying to get him to do for the past year, so no complaining here.  

He's been attending school this week, and he happily declared to his teacher, "Bowie came out!" Every morning, he comes running in to our bedroom to see "my Bowie." He wants to kiss her all.the.time.   When his cousin wanted to hold her, he sat stoically with her on his lap, not moving a muscle, and not letting her anywhere near "my baby."  

My heart swells when I watch my son with my daughter.  And it also breaks into a million pieces.  Because this scene should look different.  There should be an almost-one year old girl toddling between the baby and the big boy.  

That space where she should be is so visible.

I can't help but wonder how Ben would have been with Lydie a year ago. 
As I watch him love on Josie, I can't help but think how ripped off he's gotten that he has missed this experience for the past year.  




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That doesn't even hit on the fact that I have two daughters, sister daughters, whose relationship will never look the way I want it to.  It will never look like the sister relationship that I have with my sister.  Which, besides my husband and my mom, is my strongest, most valued relationship.

Josephine holding Lydia's hand(print).  I sure wish this could look different.


_______________________________

Maybe I'm finally starting to process all that I wasn't able to last week, because I'm crying multiple times a day right now.  

It's like the postpartum depression survey I took on the nurse's home visit: "Do you feel anxious and sad for no reason at all?"  How the hell do I answer that?  Do I feel anxious and sad? -- Yes.  For no reason?  -- No. I'd say I have a pretty good reason.  

_________________________________


I've had several dreams in which both of my living children are taken away from me.  I start screaming "nooooo!" and wake up in a sweat (which to be fair, could totally be hormones).  

The anxiety has shifted, and it's better, but it's still there.  I know too much now and I no longer feel invincible.  I know quite a few families that have lost their babies to SIDS.  The other night, Justin and Josephine went off to hang out downstairs while I went to bed early.  When I woke up to a quiet house,  I instantly panicked.  I envisioned Justin falling asleep on the couch with Josie on his chest.   I frantically texted him (which is not the norm in our house but is much easier than getting out of bed when recovering from a c-section), and they were just fine... but my mind often jumps to the worst.  After the worst has happened to you, how could it not?

Most parents worry less about their second living child.  They have survived the newborn stage with their oldest, they know a bit more of what to expect, they don't get as worked up about every little thing because they understand each stage will pass.  

Me?  We only have an old-school monitor for Ben but I just ordered a video monitor to keep an eye on Josephine.  I always thought that alarms based on the baby's breathing patterns, like Snuzas and Angelcare Monitors, were completely over the top.  Now?  It's on my list of things to look into.  (Any suggestions, anyone?)

This will not be the case for me.

____________________________________


And I know - I know - that my visions of my three children together are faulty at best.  I recognize that if Lydie were here, Josie likely wouldn't be.  When I go there, I feel like I have chosen one of my children over the other and I have to stop and remind myself: I didn't chose Josie over Lydie.  I didn't have a choice.  While I would never want Josephine to grow up thinking she was "Option B," as Sheryl Sandberg wrote  -- kicking the shit out of Option B -- I also think, clearly my first choice would be not to know this pain and grief and not to have my child's urn on my mantle.  

________________________________

A few friends have asked if Josephine looks at all like Lydia.  I appreciate the question, maybe because it acknowledges the big sister.  But it also makes me pause.  The moment Josephine was born, Dr. B announced that she looked like her big brother.  

So what about her big sister?  I'm not sure.  Josie's hair is a lot lighter; Lydie's hair was very dark - as dark as her dad's.  And Lydie's face was bruised, making it difficult to overlook the brusing to see what she might have looked like otherwise. 

But there have been moments where I catch a glimpse of Lydie in Josie.  
I think I hope for more of those moments.

I looked at photos of Lydie the other day, which I rarely do these days because I feel like the blurred image in my memory is gentler on me.  I looked for Josephine in Lydia, in Lydia in Josephine.  

I was left as a puddle of tears and snot.

I can look at the numbers.  Josie was two and a half pounds heavier than her sister, but oddly, half an inch shorter.  But of course, their gestational ages were different.  I can compare Josie's hands and feet to her sister's hand and foot prints, and of course I have.  I think proportionally, Lydie's hands and feet were bigger.

Josephine and Lydie Bear
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Last night, my Jo Bo (get it?) spit up projectile vomited all over me and my bed during an otherwise serene moment doing skin-to-skin.  I was horrified when I realized it reached Lydie's blanket.  The blanket I've never washed because it has traces of Lydie's blood on it and was wrapped all around Lydie the moment I was forced to say goodbye.

I almost vomited myself.

The rational side of me knows I've been sleeping with that blanket for close to a year now, and it probably really needs to be washed.  But how ironic right?  Little living sister spits up all over big dead sister's blanket.

Maybe I'll just see if I can spot clean it instead...

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All this emotional stuff doesn't touch on recovering from the c-section, postpartum hormones, and cluster feeding that is happening pretty much all night, every night.  I feel like I don't have a right to complain, because last time, I dealt with all of this (minus the c-section recovery) without a baby. And believe me, it's a much better situation to be exhausted from breastfeeding all night than to be exhausted because your baby is dead.  

______________________________________

On a brighter note, I feel like I can think of the future for the first time in a year.  When Lydia died, I couldn't look at my calendar for months.  I had each week of gestation marked on there, her scheduled c-section, my maternity leave that never actually happened. 

I didn't look at a calendar for a solid three months because I couldn't bare the thought of a future without my daughter.  

Suddenly, I can think about Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas.  It will never stop being painful that we won't physically have Lydia with us.  But after lacking so much confidence throughout Bowie's pregnancy, now I can plan to have Josephine there.  And I know all the ways we will continue to honor Lydie and keep her with us.

I feel like I can breathe for the first time in a long time.


This made me laugh.  Grateful to have this one on the outside where I can see her!






Tuesday, October 20, 2015

On the birth of a rainbow

Last Monday morning, Benjamin awoke earlier than usual.  I, of course, had been up since 3:30 am, with anxiety and nerves and fear and hope. As I lifted Ben out of his crib, I noticed a bright star out his window.  I asked him if he wanted to look at the Lydie star, and he eagerly climbed on to my lap.  We spent an hour cuddling there, talking and singing to Lydie in the sky and Bowie in my belly.  I struggle with finding Lydie, but I felt her as we watched that bright star, and this time with all three of my babies was a really peaceful start to a really stressful day.  
BEFORE
Far too many hours later, Justin and I headed to the hospital, for what I hoped would be my final trip to my MFM's office.  We were so anxious that we got there 15 minutes early and sat in the waiting room for 45 minutes.  Which really didn't help the anxiety.  I have been so worried about Bowie that I really hadn't given much thought to  these physical procedures that were about to be done to me.

And it turned out the amnio HURT.  (Please skip if you don't want details).   In an amniocentesis, a needle is inserted through the belly into the uterus and fluid is drawn out. That fluid is sent to a lab to check lung maturity. I first laid down for an ultrasound so the MFM Dr. F could determine where pockets of fluid were.  And guess what was a problem again?  That damn anterior placenta.  Apparently there was only one small pocket of fluid that he could access without touching the placenta, and Bowie was too close to that fluid.  Dr. F asked me to flip to my side, tried nudging her to get her to move.  It didn't work.  Finally he decided to go for it anyway, and inserted that needle.  I am not sure what exactly happened next, as I could not actually watch the ultrasound screen myself, but I am told there wasn't much fluid available in the first place, and then Bowie actually moved toward the needle, pushing the fluid away and actually bumping the needle and what should have taken 10 seconds was taking minutes, and my uterus contracted around the needle, and even after alllll that, they only got 6 CC of fluid when they were supposed to have 10.   Meanwhile, I am shaking with pain and crying and squeezing the hell out of Justin's hand and trying to keep from screaming.  

Dr. F apologized to me, said he hoped for good results.  He commented that he knew I didn't want to do the amnio in the first place.  And I lost my mind a little bit.   I cried, "She's alive right now!  I just want her out while she's alive!"

I had already told him that I had been having slight contractions and started to worry about uterine rupture, especially because I had previously had a c-section.  He nodded, told me how rare uterine ruptures are.  "Well,"  I said, and he nodded again.  I can only tell the man so many times that statistics offer me zero comfort.

They sent me back for an NST to wait for results, and a few minutes later, when I had calmed down, Dr. F came back to talk to me.   My emotional outburst seemed to have an impact on him.  "If the results are indeterminate, but she's close, we'll go ahead," he told me.  "How close do they have to be?" I asked.  "We'll talk about it," he responded, always noncommittal. 

So we waited, with me hooked up the NST.  Watching for the first time ever, as Bowie showed some concerns on the NST, with decelerations of her heart rate.  And I was having some noticeable contractions.  

And then the results came back.

34.

Passing is 50.

I started to panic but the nurse told me Dr. F would call my OB Dr. B and they would confer.  And considering Dr. B was ready to get this baby out days ago without an amnio, and knows exactly how I felt about NICU time (meaning I made clear it was much preferable to me than a dead baby).

Dr. F returned shortly, told me we were on.

I almost cried with relief this time.

Except now they became concerned about Bowie's heartrate. Not to mention my contractions.  The amnio had sent me into labor.   Apparently, neither one of us liked the amnio very much.

And of course, Dr. F works at a hospital Dr. B does not have privileges at so we had to drive from one hospital to the other.  I started worrying about that time of not being hooked up to monitors.

My favorite nurse Jane told me, "You're going to have a baby TODAY!" and I told her we had to get there first.  Physically get there.  It still seemed so far from a possibility.

But I still started texting my mom and dad, telling them to start the drive, as they were "on call" based on the amnio results.  

And after more time hooked up to the NST, with my husband looking more anxious than ever, Dr. F and the nurses determined that Bowie was just adjusting her baseline heartrate, and gave us the go-ahead to leave the hospital to drive to St. Ann's.

I'm grateful to have a connection to Laura, the head of St. Ann's Labor and Delivery nurses; I work with her husband.  She came to meet Benjamin when he was born, and she came to meet Lydia when she was born.  Soon after I returned to work last January, I told my coworker that his wife was close to my heart because she was one of the few people who met my daughter.  He told me that the nurses who delivered Lydie - Amanda and Beth - are always asking for updates about how our family is doing.  

So a few weeks ago, I emailed Laura and told her the plan for my amnio and tentatively scheduled c-section.  I asked that she make sure the nursing staff is familiar with our history.  She emailed me back that absolutely, they would be.  A week or two later, she emailed again, to let me know that Amanda and Beth both wanted to be our nurses for Bowie's delivery and had asked to take extra shifts so they could be with us.  !!!!  I was floored.  As Justin commented, we wanted nurses to know our story, but even better, these nurses were part of our story.  We didn't have to explain the complexities of the emotions to them.

So I texted Laura too, told her to let Amanda and Beth know we were on our way.

Dr. F gave me a little talk first, that he would go ahead and approve delivery.  That indeterminate results didn't mean the lungs weren't mature, but it did mean they weren't certain, and that it was a possibility Bowie could need NICU time.  That he believes the safest place for a baby is inside the mother.  

I second-guessed myself for about ten seconds, then looked at that decel of Bowie's on the monitor and at my continued contractions.  I told him we were heading to St. Ann's.  "Take your money and run," a doctor told a friend in her pregnancy after loss.  Yes.

Gratefully, Bowie gave her Mama good kicks on our 15 minute drive from one hospital to the other.  Arriving at St. Ann's, the nursing staff quickly got me hooked up to the monitors, and her heartbeat was still there.  

It took until this point to feel any sort of confidence that I could be delivering a living, breathing baby... that we could be bringing this one home.

I asked Justin to write "live baby" for our birth plan, but he thought this was more appropriate.

My mom arrived and said I was glowing.  Said she hasn't seen me look so peaceful, in oh, about 11 1/2 months.

The next two to three hours were spent laying in bed, listening to Bowie's heartbeat, watching my steady contractions, and reconnecting to the nurses that delivered Lydia.  When they walked into our room, there were hugs all around.  I don't think most patients get that kind of treatment.  We talked a lot about stillbirth and grief and the Cuddle Cot that we're donating to St. Ann's in honor of Lydie.  We talked about the things they did that really helped us, the photos of Lydia, the hand-decorated photo book, the hand and foot prints.  We told them about the lack of support when we left the hospital and returned home.  We talked about the fear during this pregnancy.

Ironically, the article in the Columbus Dispatch about Cuddle Cots and Lydia was published the day before.  This is our blurb:

A fifth CuddleCot, which will help families at Mount Carmel St. Ann’s, will bear the name of another child, Lydia Joanne, who was stillborn in November after her umbilical cord kinked, cutting off her blood and oxygen supply.


“The moment she was born, I said, ‘Give me my baby,’  ” said her mom, Heather Johnston Welliver of Gahanna.


She and her husband, Justin, spent about six hours with Lydia. They read to her and kissed her and told her they loved her again and again.


“The time we did have was so very precious, but it was very hard to watch her deteriorate. We just knew at some point to say goodbye,” Mrs. Johnston Welliver said.


They left her in the arms of a nurse, who rocked their baby girl and sang to her softly as they left the room.


“I went to give her one more kiss and I told her that we loved her very much and the nurse kissed me and said, ‘She knows,’  ” Mrs. Johnston Welliver said.


And laying in that hospital bed, listening to my second daughter, in walks that nurse.  

The Dispatch reporter had asked me her name.  I had no idea.  (Turns out her name is Christi).

That day with Lydia is such a blur.  I was on pain meds.  I was sleep deprived.  And most importantly, I was in total shock.

But I knew that nurse's face, and she came straight to me and hugged me.

The emotions in these moments were just completely overwhelming.  You'd think I'd be an emotional wreck, but there was just too much there.  I think I am just now beginning to process them, more than a week later.

I told her, thank you for making an unbearable, impossible situation just a little more bearable.  

They had to take the monitor off me to prep my belly.  I held my breath while I was disconnected.  I could breathe again when I could hear and watch that heartbeat again.  

They suggested having NICU staff in the operating room in case Bowie were to need oxygen, since we weren't sure about how mature her lungs were.  I agreed.

And finally, after the longest 9 months of my life, it was go time.

Right before go-time.  These grins on our faces are due to the sudden confidence that our second daughter may arrive alive.

Walking back to the operating room with Dr. B and Beth.  I don't think most women hug their doctors and nurses before starting that walk back to the OR.  I don't think most women are so giddy to walk to the OR either.

In the operating room, they kept the monitor on me the whole time.  When they lost the heartbeat for a moment, the nurses reassured me it was there.  They joked with me as I got my spinal.  They kept the operating room light-hearted and full of love.

They brought in my husband, and he held my hand.  And we had our first birth experience go as planned.  A c-section feels so weird, all this pulling on your insides. With both arms splayed to your sides.  Not to mention my shoulder having shooting pains (which apparently is a result of air hitting my insides???)

But soon, soon was the best sound I've ever heard... Bowie's screams.

The little girl came out screaming.

That was when I started crying, sobbing.

They held her up on to the window in the operating sheet for me to see.

And she was (is) just perfect.  Most importantly, she was alive.

I will spare you the photos of when Bowie is pulled out.  But here's her being held up, with the screen reading 6 lbs, 2 oz.  See that rainbow on the screen? 

I was busy sobbing, looking over at my daughter here.
Justin and I had narrowed our long list of names to two, and although I had declared my favorite a while ago, we really hadn't been talking much about it.  I teased him if she came out alive, he'd be so happy, he'd go with my favorite, but I figured we'd have a conversation.

Instead, I'm laying on the surgery table, while Justin is standing over his second daughter, holding her hand, and she is squeezing back when I hear Amanda ask him if Bowie has a name, and hear Justin reply, his voice full of tears, "Josephine Hope."

So I guess I was right.

The hospital staff decided to break a few rules for us -- like bringing Bowie to me, before they officially "tagged" her.  "There's no other babies in here!" I heard Amanda explain.

Getting sewn up, but I finally get to hold my third baby.  Justin is wearing my necklace of Lydie's handprint.

I plan to give her a million kisses.
They also let me continue to hold Bowie skin-to-skin as they wheeled my bed out of the operating room back to the laboring room.  Usually, babies have to be placed in the bassinet.  Another nurse said she wanted to see the baby and tried to peer into the empty bassinet in the hallway, when she realized I was still holding her.  "You didn't see anything!" Amanda told her.  She nodded, "I didn't see anything!"

That's relief on my face right there - and I think on Dr. B's too.  


Proud daddy and a really special nurse.
Just out of the oven.
Bowie, err Josephine, breastfed right away.  Phew.

I thought I had just survived my first birth without vomiting everywhere, until the nausea came full-force.  Nothing like dry-heaving with a completely empty stomach that was just cut open.  That and the amnio were the most painful parts of my day.  I kept one eye on my husband and daughter while I writhed in pain.

Worth it.

A million emotions, the biggest one relief.



On day 2 of Josephine's life, her Pop-Pop and Aunt Laura rushed to see her.


I've never seen my sister look so happy.  I think everyone is so relieved to have Josie here safe and sound.

I love my sister.  She brought a perfect balloon for each of my babies.  Elmo for Ben.  A star for Lydie.  And a baby girl balloon for Josie.

Dr. B came to see us and I withheld myself from asking her when we could go out for a celebratory beer.  

She made the suggestion that when Benji met Bowie, we should go pick her out in the nursery together.  And as much as I hated letting them wheel Josie away, that seemed like a really nice plan. 

We told Ben that Bowie came out and we were going to go pick her up together.  I told him he would know her by her rainbow blanket that I had been working on for weeks.  He ran through the hospital hallway, calling "Rainbow...  Bowie... where are you?"  He was so excited. 

Offering his little sister a cracker... you know he likes her when he wants to share his snacks!  




He then wanted to pull her bassinet through the hallway by himself.
My sister was surprised that I didn't leave out Ben's Big Brother shirt for my dad to dress him in.  I couldn't, I explained.  That would have been too much of a leap of faith that she would be born alive.  Besides, I bought that shirt to announce Lydie's pregnancy with.  Besides, he has already been a big brother, and even though he is a big brother again, I'm hesitant to send that message.

But still when Ben showed up wearing this shirt, I winced a bit. Not the best one for family photos.  Until I realized it said, "Game changer."

Actually it was perfect.

So excited to hold his littlest sister.  "My hold my baby!" big brother declares.

Lydie Bear had to be in there too.  


I couldn't have asked for a better first meeting between big brother and littlest sister.    Ben asked to hold "his baby," got excited when she squeezed his hand, and kissed her again and again.  We told him Bowie was coming home to live with us, and just like me, he seemed to be in disbelief.  "She come home?  She stay?"  I know, buddy.  Not all sisters live in the stars.




Milk cheers and a hospital bed picnic with my oldest.

We had a surprise visitor - Dr. F!  He drove over to St. Ann's after working at his own hospital.  He commented that he had never been up to this floor before.  He took Josephine's photo and texted it to our nurses and Dr. B.  He asked about her lungs, and I was happy to tell him she didn't need any interventions at birth!  Later, I was told by others such visits are not routine and we made a big impact on Dr. F.   One sonographer had commented that I really went "toe-to-toe" with him.  Thank you?

Amanda, upstairs to check on Lydie's sister.
I found myself surprisingly unemotional in the hospital.  I cried one afternoon having a good talk with my sister about Lydia and Josephine, and I felt like I needed that, but I couldn't quite keep up with the processing of all these emotions.  I talked about Lydie (as I usually do) with any of the hospital staff that would listen.  We had visits from our L&D nurses while in the recovery room with Bowie.  Christi, the person who last held Lydie, held Josie.  She kissed both my daughters.  We had a visit from the person who is helping us arrange the donation of the Cuddle Cot.  We talked about support for families with a stillborn baby, while I cuddled Josie.

But getting ready to go home, putting Josie in the carseat her sister never got to ride in, choked me up.  Thinking about leaving the hospital without Lydie, thinking of leaving the hospital with Josie.  Thinking of the past year of my life.



This should be the view of every mother who has just given birth as she leaves the hospital.



* I almost titled this entry "What it's like to deliver a live baby after you've delivered a dead baby."  But I didn't.  You're welcome.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

After the Storm

 On Monday, this happened.

(And this too:)




 On Tuesday, this happened.


On Wednesday, this happened.

And today, this happened.

We brought our second daughter home.

Bittersweet, with an emphasis on the sweet.

As my husband drove us home, we listened to a song on Bowie's playlist, "After the Storm," by Mumford & Sons.  And as I feel completely unable to summarize the last 3 or 4 days right now, I'm going to leave you with these lyrics:

"Because death is just so full
And man so small
I'm scared of what's behind
And what's before.

There will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair."


Monday, October 12, 2015

Welcome, Bowie!

I had thought that Bowie's heartbeat was the best sound in the world,  but it turns out her scream is even better.

October 12, 2015
5:50 pm
6 lbs 2 oz
17.5 in

She will always be our Bowie, but you can now also call her Josephine Hope.

Much more to process and much more to come.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Lydie and our Cuddle Cot in the News

I appreciate every chance I have to tell Lydie's story, and we are featured in the Columbus Dispatch today here. Please ignore the title - I detest the use of "stillborn" as a noun (my daughter was stillborn. She was not "a stillborn." That does not define her.).


Monday, October 5, 2015

36 Week odds and ends

I feel like I haven't had a lot to say or write lately.  I could repeat myself; I miss Lydie and I'm scared for Bowie.

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. There's all sorts of initiatives in the BLM community right now, like the Capture Your Grief project where every day you respond to a prompt through photography and writing.  I can't seem to get into it.  I find my friends' posts hard to read.

It's hard to balance the grief for Lydie and the hope for Bowie.

I want Bowie to get here alive so I can get back to concentrating on my grief.

I realized the other day that I haven't been able to look at photos of living babies since Lydia was stillborn.   But pictures of stillborn babies?  I look at them all the time.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that often usually babies are born alive.

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Birth announcements have really gotten to me lately.  These are friends that got pregnant right after Lydie died.  I was upset when I heard their pregnancy announcements; I felt like they didn't think what happened to me would happen to them.  And now, nine months later, their babies are being born ALIVE and it's not that I wanted their babies to die, but it bothers me that they were right.  What happened to me didn't happen to them.  And they get to keep their perfect little families and their invincibility.

Instead of being a reminder that usually babies live, it's a trigger of what I'll never have.

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We are one week away from the amniocentesis.  If we make it one more week, my MFM will be putting a (giant) needle through my skin to reach my uterus to pull out amniotic fluid and test Bowie's lung maturity.

October 12.  11 am.  (I wanted to schedule it earlier but the MFM told me he's not a morning person.)

I will be 37 weeks and 1 day pregnant.

We'll wait for results in the office, with me and Bowie hooked up to what will hopefully be our final NST.

If Bowie passes, we'll go in for a c-section that evening.  I could have a living, breathing baby a week from today.  If Bowie's results are "indeterminate," we have to wait.  Wait for more labwork, more specific results.  And if the results are failing, even more waiting.  I have said if that's the case, they may have to send me to the psych ward.  With the NST equipment, of course.

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So we're close.  In the early stages of this pregnancy, my therapist urged me to try to take things day by day, but sometimes, sometimes look towards the next milestone.  (And ironically, while I probably need my therapist more than I ever have... she has been out of the office for the last two months... on maternity leave).  

The next milestone is clearly the amnio and then delivery.

And I so don't want to think about it.  And yet it's all I can think about.

Every minute, every hour, every day, we are closer.  Every minute, every hour, every day, this feels more high-stakes, more scary.

I remind myself that I've been pregnant for 36 weeks and 1 day.  Add in Lydia, and I've been pregnant for 70 weeks and 1 day.  I can do one more week.  I can do one more week.  I can do one more week.

And then I think, oh my God, please, please, please pass that amnio.

I think about the possibility of passing the amnio and delivering a living Bowie one week from today. I imagine her screaming after she is sliced out of me.  I cut the vision short, I tell myself that would be too good to be true.

And then I wonder: after all we have been through, would I really consider that too good to be true?  I am so set up for loss that I just can't imagine things going my way.

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I saw my best friend over the weekend for a short visit.  I haven't been a very good friend to her in the past year but she has never been anything but patient with me.  She's one of the few people I can say this about.

She asked how I'm doing.
I told her I don't know.
She said I seem like I'm doing okay.
I think I laughed.

I told her, I knew this would be hard.  And it is.
It's really, really, really hard.

As a fellow blogger explained better than I can: "The only relief from the fear and worry is that it's persistence has become commonplace."

Yes.  I am really used to feeling this way.

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Bowie's movement has changed as she's settled in, head down.  It's a fallacy that babies slow down their movement near the end.  They move just as much, but the movement does feel different.  For Bowie, it's been fewer jabs and more rolls.  I miss the jabs, the clear indication that she was alive.  I think of how I still felt Lydia rolling in my belly after she died, the amniotic fluid pushing up her bum.

I find myself using the Doppler more regularly, wanting to HEAR the movement at the same time I feel it.  Even better if I can feel it from the outside as well as the in.
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My OB tells me I need to stop taking the baby aspirin I've been taking since I got pregnant.  It's thinning my blood, making the blood harder to clot.  It's just an extra precaution, as we think the blood clot in Lydie's umbilical cord happened after she died.

I'm supposed to stop taking it so I don't bleed too much at delivery.

I don't want to.  What if it's helping Bowie?  What if she needs my thinner blood?

I tell my husband I'm debating continuing to take it.  He raises an eyebrow.  I forget he worries about me as much as he worries about Bowie.

I don't worry about me at all.

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In the meantime, the car seat, swing, and bouncers sit in the basement, last used by Benjamin.

It's a really big mental hurtle to prepare to bring a baby home, when last time you prepared to bring a baby home, she came home in an urn.

And all those ways you thought you were smart to prepare were HUGE triggers of grief.

The swing and bouncers can stay in the basement, and if Bowie comes home alive with us, we'll bring them up.  The car seat?  I'm wondering if we can just stick in the very back of the CRV on the way to the hospital.  If all goes well, Justin can figure it out while Bowie and I are in the hospital.

I am coaching myself that I will have to wash some newborn clothes and pack a hospital bag this weekend.  I got as far as making a packing list for the hospital, which felt like a big step.  I don't want to forget our Lydie Bear.

I am training my replacement at work this week.  I tell myself that even if Bowie dies, I'm taking some sort of leave.  I call it my "leave" and I cringe when I hear others refer to it as a "maternity leave."  My planned maternity leave for Lydia quickly become a "medical leave" instead.   My boss asks me what I've told my students about my leave, and I respond, "Do you think they've figured out I'm pregnant?"  I've said nothing.

Each of these steps that I have to take, filling out HR forms or packing a hospital bag with things for the baby, feels like I'm jinxing us.  Part of me asks, You think you're going to need swaddles for a dead baby?

I remind myself over and over and over again, that other women do these things too.  Other women prepare, and they get to bring their babies home.

Hope never killed a baby.





 
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