Thursday, March 31, 2011

16 week appointment - boy or girl?

I arrived thirty minutes early for my appointment this morning.  I have no idea how I managed that one as the calendar at home and on my phone had my appointment marked as 9:00.  I decided to check in and wait in case the doctor was able to see me sooner, but that did not work out for me.  I didn't get called back for my ultrasound until 9:50.  By that time I was ready to scream with impatience and nerves.

The sonographer was able to take multiple clear images of little spark.  She was amazed by how well baby did at showing off heart, organs, brain so she could take a good look.  She said that seeing the four chambers of the heart clearly at sixteen weeks is very, very unusual.  Good job, little spark.

The tech was the same one we saw when we went in last February to look at Charlotte's heart. She remembered me, asked how old Charlotte is now.  When I told her what happened she stopped scanning, rubbed my arm, said she was sorry.  There were tears from that point on, not copious amounts, but little ones that slipped out now and again.  She kept scanning but would pause every now and again to pat my leg or rub my arm.

Here's what I love about receiving ultrasounds at this clinic:

a) Every room has a screen mounted on the wall so I can see what the sonographer is seeing.  I don't have to crane my neck, or try to sneak a peek while they scan.
b) They talk you through what they are doing.  They explain what they are seeing, point out different organs, make comments on your baby, and generally make the entire process easier (for this mama at least)
c) Every now and again, like today, they offer to show you a 3-D picture
d) Every tech is kind, compassionate, and good at their job

Baby did so well, and showed itself so well I didn't even have to see the doctor. I went from the ultrasound room to the waiting room and then back to an exam room to meet with the midwife.  We had a better encounter this time.  She only made one snarky comment about my nauturopath, lack of pelvic exams, and lack of general physical exams.  I just smiled and moved the conversation on to the amount of screening, tests etc. I will have in the third trimester.  I am realizing that this midwife, much as she annoys me, is the keeper of the kingdom, so to speak, and I need her on my side.

I was so relieved to be done with the appointment I stopped at my favorite fast food place on the way home. Their hamburgers are made from hormone free local beef so I don't feel very guilty about consuming them.  The guy at the register next to mine ordered three cheeseburgers and then proceeded to stare at me when I ordered a double cheeseburger, a cheeseburger and French fries. Seriously, his mouth was hanging open.  I wanted to explain that technically I was only having two cheeseburgers and therefore had plenty of room for fries, but he was holding up the line so I just turned and smiled at him.

And now that you've read through all of that, here comes the big reveal:

IT'S A BOY!!!!


Pardon the slightly scary 3-D image.  Sweet boy doesn't have much fat on him yet.  Mama intuition was right again.  I'm two for two.

After my cheeseburger fest I stopped at the store and bought three little outfits (and a candy bar. Good thing the guy from lunch didn't see that indiscretion) to wrap up and give to J when he came home from work.



One for mama (it says I love mommy), one for daddy, and one for Charlotte. The little brother onesie is preemie size, which means little spark will most likely never wear it, but I saw it, I wanted it, it was on clearance ... I'm hormonal and happy, do I really need to explain myself? 

Back in four weeks for a more in-depth look at little spark's organs.  So far, all is well.  And, exhale ... 

Monday, March 28, 2011

3.28.11

Feeling a little better today.  What's helping - ice cream, a visit to the chiropractor, a nice roaring fire - all good things.  J is feeling a little out of sorts today.  I can see now that this is just how it will be for the next six weeks. Grumpiness, fighting, frustration all brought on by the anger that we're preparing to remember, not celebrate, Charlotte on her first birthday.  (Even Isabel is out of sorts, but that's because she is on steroids for an infection and so hungry I'm afraid she might eat us while we sleep.)

The doctors have finally sorted out what is wrong with my sister.  After a month of pain and health issues they discovered her appendix is the issue and she is having it removed tonight.  My mom was supposed to fly to Idaho to be with her after my appointment on Thursday, but after much mad texting between the three of us she bumped her flight up and arrived last night.  The Lord worked that one out perfectly (as He does) since the appendix issue was discovered this morning.  My mom has the babes so my sister's husband can be at the hospital with her.

With my mom in Idaho I'm headed to my next appointment with the maternal fetal medicine specialist solo.  I have a list of people who will go with me, but it's important to me to do one by myself.  For a few moments this morning J thought he could go with me, but after looking at his schedule he realized it's just not possible.  I'm sad that he won't be able to go to any of the specialist appointments with me (he's usually around when my midwife is here) but he'll probably bring his ultrasound machine home at least once so he can see little spark.

Will have an update on little spark Thursday afternoon.  Hopefully all good news, perhaps we'll learn the sex ... ??  Prayers appreciated.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

3.27.11

I'm so grumpy right now I don't want to live with me.

I don't know if it's the pregnancy, the lead in to her first birthday, the weather - it's rained 26 of the past 27 days or something insane like that. I know I live in Oregon, but that's a record even for this wet state - or everything stacked together that's making me act like a crazy person.

I'm not a very nice person right now.  I'm so angry, I want to throw things, smash dishes, break all breakable things.  Anyone else?  Is it because her year is coming to an end and part of me thinks snarling at people and breaking things will slow time down?  Or am I snarling at people because I want to be left alone, but when I am left alone I want someone to sit with me, ask how I am?  I'm so contradictory and hormonal I fear I've regressed to age fifteen.

I've never coped with endings, or change, very well.  And there's many endings and changes happening here.  I'm not sure why only one year is hers, but I do know that's my perception.  We had 38 weeks of Charlotte, followed by a year of Charlotte, and after May 14th I think I have to figure out how to live in the real world again.  Still grieving, still missing her, but more of an active participant in life.

Friday, March 25, 2011

3.25.11

I'm having a hard day.  Woke up grumpy after staying up too late the night before with friends.  Wishing I could help my sister out as she is still struggling with her health, but she is in Idaho so not much I can do for her.  Spent the day moping around after finding out my sister-in-law had her baby.  All is well, baby is healthy, thank goodness, but I'll be in a slump for a while now, it's just the way things are.

So bad day, made better by J's suggestion of a cheeseburger for dinner.  And then, BAM, the sky fell.  Sweet Emily is 17 weeks pregnant with her rainbow and her water broke.  What the (insert word of your choice here)?!  

I believe in God, in his goodness, grace, and kindness, but right now I just don't understand Him or His role in any of this.  Honestly, I'm rather upset with Him at the moment.  Emily lost a baby, she lost her Aidan, she needs to keep her Acorn.  Last week my friend Annette lost her Little Bee.  She needed to keep her baby too.  Isn't once enough?

I don't understand why parents who have lost babies don't receive a free pass the second time around.  I don't understand any of this.

Words fail me.

Drop over and give Emily some love.  She is on bed rest and needs our love and support right now.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thoughts on the one year milestone

It seems like every other person I know in dead baby land is coming up on the one year mark, or has just passed it.  Blog post after blog post, mama after mama, question on top of question: what do I do?  What if no one else remembers?  How do you handle this??  Once again, this is where a manual would come in handy. 

When it comes to milestones the one year mark is a close second to "hardest thing in this dead baby mess."  The most difficult thing?  The first days and weeks.  They flattened me, just completely annihilated any sense of who I thought I was or wanted to be.

The first birthday is such a big to-do when the baby lives.  It's about cake smashing, and wrapping paper eating, and general disinterest in what is going on.  It's more for the adults than the celebrated baby, but that didn't stop me from thinking about Charlotte's first birthday when I was still carrying her. Those of us in dead baby land want to celebrate too, but we're on the outside looking in and we can't find a way to break in.  First birthdays are about joy, growth, laughter, and we're releasing balloons, planting flowers, and crying.  It just feels backwards and upside down, but we still want a day that's about our babies.

There's this need, I think, this parent need to do right by our children.  To make them happy, to give them a great day, a fabulous first birthday, but how do you do that when they're dead?  I think that's why we're all so baffled by this.  It's certainly why I'm so baffled.  Had she lived I would be worried about her birthday party being "good enough," and even with her gone I'm worried about her birth day being "good enough."  But there is no good enough anymore, is there?  The only thing that would make May 14th good is if she had lived, so why am I still striving to make something good happen?  (Sometimes I think we should just celebrate that we've survived one year.  That alone deserves cake and the strongest, tightest hugs.)

Perhaps it's simply the deep desire to have her be remembered by someone other than us, to have the first year without her with all its hardships, growth and sorrow acknowledged.  I want to do something, but I want it to be the "right" thing, and who can say what that is?  Every time I read about plans, or see pictures of a first birthday all I see is beauty and love, not right, wrong, good enough.

And I believe whatever we choose - us wandering parents - whether it be big or small, sorrowful or hopeful, it will be right because it will be about our babies and how much we love and miss them.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Gift

I spent most of my day with a dear friend who fed me pizza and homemade chocolate cake for lunch.  I arrived home just after J who was running back out the door to buy nails to finish up the shelves in the bathroom (so excited about this!).

"What's this box on the back of the couch?" I yelled out the door at him.

He ran inside, pulled the lid off, "Someone at work gave us a gift." (The nice person from the Christmas party who talked about Charlotte, said she thought about us often and how difficult it all must be.)

A baby blanket.  A plush giraffe.

Pure sweetness and kindness, but it's left me feeling like spending the evening deep breathing, or hiding.

The first thought that popped into my head when I saw the contents of the box: More baby items to give away or sell someday, but that box will make a nice memory box.

Well, isn't that optimistic of me?

I'll write a thank you note.  I'll tuck the box away in the second bedroom where we shove all things baby related.  

I didn't prepare myself for this.  I didn't realize people would buy things, expect this baby to live, grow, come home.

 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

3.20.11

Little spark said hello for the first time last night.  A quick flutter, a hey I'm here, swimming around, hanging out, growing (please).

These feel like big milestones.

I've crossed into the second trimester, whew.

First time hearing heart beat via doppler, whew.

First definite flutter, no questions about it, whew.

There's a cynical part of me that doesn't put much stock in these milestones.  I feel like I can do this, I can do early pregnancy, the second trimester, maybe even the third, but maybe the third is where it all goes wrong ..?  We don't know what happened with Charlotte so there's no way to know if she stopped growing, or didn't grow correctly, or what happened.  The lack of concrete answers makes me crazy sometimes.

On Friday my midwife said something along the lines of, "Everything looks healthy and normal," and I sarcastically responded, "Yes, I've heard that before." And she calmly said, "Well, that's better than having problems right now."  I can't argue with that (she's certainly learned how to handle my negativity and cynicism) but it's strange being barely high risk.  Perhaps I'm more medium risk? (Our first bill from the maternal fetal medicine office has me listed as a "moderately complicated patient.")

I feel like everyone else in this rainbow pregnancy world has complicated issues and I'm out here on the periphery with no clear definitions, which is not to say I'm ungrateful for my easy (so far) pregnancies.  I don't have a blood clotting disorder, or incompetent cervix.  There's no actions for me to take - daily shots, having a cerclage placed - beyond what I did with my first pregnancy.  There is no known medical reason, I simply failed to grow a healthy baby.  And since I failed, but don't know how or why or if it was even my fault, I don't know what to change.

It's disconcerting to feel like this: suspended, tense, always waiting for a disaster to happen, but this is pregnancy after loss: forty weeks on a high wire over a canyon with poor balance made poorer by a body that constantly changes and grows more unstable.    

Friday, March 18, 2011

14 week appointment

And we have a heart beat via doppler, a nice strong 144 bpm.  Thank you, little spark, mama desperately needed that reassurance.

I've gained four pounds, which puts me at a grand total of five, which prompted J to say over dinner, "You're going to be fat, babe."  I laughed louder and harder than I have in a long time with an orange slice hanging from my fingers and juice dripping down my hands.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

3.17.11

I need to take a moment and thank everyone who responded to my last post.  I was in a state about her birthday: fretting about needing to do something, wanting it to be beautiful, feeling completely alone and lost.  And then I hit the panic button (also known as a blog post) and my fabulous friends, family and readers showed up.

I almost have a fully formed plan now and instead of worrying about not knowing what to do, or disliking the outcome, I'm feeling a little excited.  I don't want to stress about her birthday and so many have offered to help/are helping the pressure is off and I feel able to relax.  Thank you to everyone who volunteered to be event planners (especially my Seattle team) - the ideas are pouring in and I am loving what's taking shape.

J is even starting to get into it now that a bit of a plan is developing.  Over dinner we talked about what we want to do and the order of things.  After we compiled a rough list of who may attend/has expressed interest in attending and both nearly fainted at the number.  There's no way we'll all fit inside the birth center, but as my midwife pointed out there's an entire orchard at our disposal behind the center.  It will probably rain, it won't go exactly as I plan, but something beautiful for our sweet girl's first birthday is taking shape and I am excited to celebrate and remember her.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

3.16.11

When Charlotte died we were entirely lost, so much so we didn't hold a memorial service or interact with the world in any way.  We retreated for a good long while, but now that her first birthday is coming up I want to do something.

The good, kind, wonderful people at the birth center have agreed to let us hold her first birthday ___ (drawing a blank here, what do I call this thing? It sure isn't a party or celebration or shindig) on the property so now I need to figure out what to do.

J is useless.  When I asked if he had any thoughts last night he said, "I don't want to face that."  I expected to be the one planning everything, but I'm still frustrated with his inability to handle most anything having to do with Charlotte.

There are a lot of us working through our babies first birthdays right now.  Every day it's another first birthday and another beautiful commemoration.  So, what did you do?  Who did you invite?  Should we have a small remembrance ceremony since we never had a memorial ceremony?  What in the world would that look like?

If everything works out we will plant a Charlotte rose, like we have in our front yard, somewhere on the grounds, but the middle child in me, who doesn't want to bother or inconvenience anyone, already feels fidgety about inviting people to come and there's no way I'm asking friends and family to drive thirty minutes or more to watch us plant a rose bush.

I love the idea of releasing sky lanterns, but I want to do something during the day since she was born at 10:10 am and died at 11:47 am.  And I don't want to do a lot of planning.  I don't want to send invitations or deal with RSVP's, but if we do something like a balloon release, or have cake, I kind-of have to know roughly how many people will be there.

Can I hire an event planner for my dead baby's first birthday?  No?  That would be strange and a waste of money and J would never, ever agree?  I hope you all can help me then.  I'm at a loss here.

On a completely different topic: Miss Abigail is doing well, but my sister continues to struggle.  She had a tough c-section (actually, that's an understatement) and has had complications since.  Please send good thoughts, or prayers, or healing dust, or something her way as her doctors try to ease her pain and resolve some other issues.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

3.15.11

It's pouring rain outside.  So much so I've abandoned my plans to go to the store and am packing Charlotte's things instead.  How have we managed to accumulate so much in ten months?  She is loved, that girl.  Or, perhaps, we are loved.

As spring and its rains come so will her first birthday.  Two months to go and it's already proving difficult.

I've been struggling with what to write here so I haven't been writing as often.  I miss her.  I'm trying to find space in my life and heart for little spark.  There's not much more to say.

From "Interim" by Edna St. Vincent Millay (This poem should be read in it's entirety, but it's really long so a simple excerpt will have to do)


“I had you and I have you now no more.”
 
O little words, how can you run so straight        
Across the page, beneath the weight you bear?
How can you fall apart, whom such a theme
Has bound together, and hereafter aid
In trivial expression, that have been
So hideously dignified?—Would God        
That tearing you apart would tear the thread
I strung you on! Would God—O God, my mind
Stretches asunder on this merciless rack
Of imagery! O, let me sleep a while!
Would I could sleep, and wake to find me back        
In that sweet summer afternoon with you.
Summer? ’Tis summer still by the calendar!
How easily could God, if He so willed,
Set back the world a little turn or two!
Correct its griefs, and bring its joys again!       
 
We were so wholly one I had not thought
That we could die apart. I had not thought
That I could move,—and you be stiff and still!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ten

Charlotte,

I cannot imagine you as a ten month old. I can't see you scooting across the floor, or thinking about pulling yourself up, or rolling over to reach a toy. I can't hear you babbling away about your little life, the dog, your toys, books, mama, daddy. It would all make sense to you, but we would hear nonsense coming from your sweet self.

I think it's time to pack up your things, love. We will buy a nice chest with your name engraved on it someday, but for now it will have to be a plastic tub - or five.  Putting away your things doesn't mean I love you less, but when I was in the middle of my very, very dark time I realized I need to start making room for your brother or sister. You will always have space here, that spot above the fireplace will be yours as long as we are here and if we move from here we will find a new place for you.  

I don't look through your memory boxes, or pictures, so why have them out in the living room? I've just realized that it's okay to place your things in a box and put them out of the way. It doesn't make me a bad mother or mean I want to forget you. This balance, dear girl, between loving you and your sibling is not easy, but I have a mother's heart and it can stretch as large as it needs to.

I feel very strongly that you've sent a little brother our way. We may know by the end of the month and if it is a boy then most of the nursery will be packed away. That will be really hard as I so want to use the things we bought with love and care for you. This balance, dear girl, …

You are moving further away and it is hard to come to the end of your birth year.  Know this:

"i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)"

Always and forever, dear girl. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

3.8.11

I have a cold and I'm miserable and my silly brain has decided that little spark is not okay.  I'm feeling better emotionally, I'm up and out of bed and functioning like a nearly normal person, but the past two days I've been worried about the little one.

I think there needs to be a place for women like me.  Quiet, calm, beautiful, on a warm island with doctors and midwives and someone to answer questions any time of the day or night.  My midwife is great.  She bumped my appointment up a week when I asked and she would be willing to answer questions any time of the day or night for me, but I want someone in my house.

I'm sure little spark is fine.  I still have symptoms, my belly is growing, signs point to all being well, but I think hearing the heartbeat would calm me down quite a bit.  I feel like I'm waiting for this baby to die, which is exactly how I felt when I was pregnant with Charlotte.  Only I'm not sure if it's intuition like last time or the emotional overload that comes with pregnancy after loss.

I have to remember that little spark is the baby who wanted to be.  When I look back on dates I cannot figure out how I conceived when I did.  It doesn't make sense with my timelines.  Then the little darling hung on even while my thyroid was insanely out of control.  And I'm almost out of the first trimester which will bring a small amount of relief.

This feels like the longest and shortest pregnancy ever.  On the one hand I can't believe I'm twelve weeks, on the other hand I feel like September will never come. I am so happy to be pregnant again but I feel like I'll need a vacation come September.  Will someone send little spark, Isabel, J and me to a private island when this is all over?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Spontaneous Beach Trip


I sent J an e-mail at work Friday morning: "Let's go, beach, you, me and Isabel, tonight."  It was such a nice break!  Yes, I don't do much outside of housework and baby growing, but it was still a nice break.  We went further north than we usually do and stayed at a bit of a dive (yet it had resort in its name) in a small town.  The restaurants had slow service and the people above us decided to party like (relatively tame, but too loud for us) rock stars half the night, but it was still nice to go away.

We broke lots of rules.  We didn't plan the trip or set a budget.  I allowed myself a caffeinated beverage, Isabel was allowed to jump on and off the bed, and even stay and cuddle for a while (she is not allowed on any furniture at home) and we called the front desk on the upstairs group and when that didn't quiet them down J stood on our bed and hit the ceiling loudly and repeatedly.  Okay, that last one isn't really a rule, but it felt risky as there were more of them than us and they were intoxicated.  

The weather was nice considering it's early March (Who am I kidding. Oregon beach weather is never nice. At least this time around it was tolerable. I've had to wear a down jacket on the beach in August before).  It rained on the drive out and in, but it didn't rain while we were there.  We went for a long walk on the beach after breakfast this morning which wore Isabel (and me) out before the long drive home.   





I have a cold, which the windy beach air worsened, and my hips, pelvis and back hurt from the drive (it was only two hours out, but ouch!) and I'm sleep deprived, but I'm glad we went.  

Friday, March 4, 2011

Equilibrium Regained

Our furnace broke, which forced me out of bed, and now I seem to be feeling better.  Thank you dear Isabel for shedding hair all over the house which gets sucked into the furnace and makes it stop functioning properly.

I've sorted some things out in my head and I think I'm ready to face the world again.  I believe I've been expecting a lot of coddling this pregnancy, and not receiving it - in fact receiving the very opposite: unkindness and negative comments from unexpected sources - left me feeling defensive and angry.

I didn't expect this pregnancy to be so much about other people and how they are feeling. And I know that's the selfishness of loss – I don't really think I'm the only one who lost something or someone when Charlotte died – but my loss is the biggest. I lost a child, my firstborn, dreams upon dreams, and so much hope.

I wanted everyone around me to gently hold all I lost and orbit around me while I carried this baby. But some are holding onto their issues too tightly to stop and focus on what I need, on how I'm feeling. And this time of reflection, of quiet, of intense sadness, and shedding waves of tears on my slowly swelling belly has been about coming to terms with the fact that a lot of people cannot be as kind or compassionate as I need for this pregnancy. Which is not to say that I haven't been showered with kindness or compassion either.

I am old enough to know that I cannot control everyone around me, that I cannot change anyone's attitude or beliefs.  BUT - I don't have to listen to negative and hurtful comments about Charlotte or this baby either - even if it comes from family members.  It is not up to me to change minds or assuage guilt.  And I shouldn't have to defend Charlotte's birth, but I'll continue to do that because I am fiercely protective of the short time we had with her.

The next two months are about Charlotte's first birthday.  After that it will be time to focus on Little Spark, on creating the nursery, on being mentally and emotionally ready for birth and (hopefully) a living baby.

Onwards and upwards.  

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

3.2.11

I seem to have lost the will to live. I've definitely lost the will to get out of bed. Soon it will be two weeks since I retreated to my bed in a haze of righteous indignation.  I've been out a couple times, but not very often. Thank goodness for the bookstore as working there has forced me to leave the house the last two Monday mornings.  

I've always been able to pull myself together before, but the usual reasons don't seem to matter this time around.  My nice, please everyone, take care of things side has disappeared entirely.

The house is clean and dinner is on the table most nights, but the main force behind everything is J.  The poor guy works really, really hard and comes home to the Miss Havisham of the baby loss world.  And normally that would shame me enough to make me do something besides all of this nothing, but my responsible adult side is nowhere to be found and my teenage side could care less.

J is taking all of this in stride.  He says things like, "You're not super functional, you will have to pull yourself together when the baby comes," but for the most part he is calmly accepting of my descent into the dark place, which is really quite remarkable.  I would be yanking the covers off, prodding him to do something besides mope, and demanding answers if he started behaving this way.

I haven't been paying much attention to this pregnancy.  I'll be twelve weeks tomorrow.  How in the world is time progressing so quickly?  I thought I would cherish every moment, be happy to be pregnant again, grateful, joyous, but most of the time I'm cranky, anxious, and weepy.

J thinks all of this crazy is stemming from the fact that I have said on numerous occasions that I get one year to fall apart.  And since that one year is quickly winnowing down to two months, which will become one, and then, naturally, zero, I am panicking about the time strictures.  Oh, he's so wise isn't it?  But, truth be told, he's probably right.  



New Lullaby Winner

I had one person fail to contact me after I announced the winners.  I picked a new one this morning and the lucky winner is #16: MEK.  Will you please contact me at rodman.angela@gmail.com so I can pass the code on?

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