Sunday, September 29, 2013

taking a step back

It's almost October which means Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month is nearly upon us. This year my focus is not infant loss, or death, or Charlotte. This October is about birth, growing our family and reaching the beginning of our little girl's life without losing my every loving mind - or driving J over the edge with my crazy.

Sometimes I have to barricade myself from the origins of my motherhood story to survive. It's hard to admit because it seems to speak of a lack somewhere within me, but I can't combine the intense grieving that comes with remembrance ceremonies or other October events with everything else that is going on. There is already a lot of grief rising to the surface, I can't afford to seek out more.

I will go to my grief share meeting this month. I will probably go to the small remembrance ceremony here in town because it will be low key and quiet. But I won't be attending the event I went to in Portland last year. I don't like feeling as if I'm doing less for Charlotte, but the truth is I'll always be doing less for her. That's the nature of having a dead baby. It's a harsh reality I come up against every time I find myself turning away from what happened so I can preserve what is.

It's hard to say, "I can't do this," or "I can't think about this," but it's good for me to do so. I really want to be happy about this baby. I want to anticipate her birth. I want to finally feel connected to her. I don't know if it's possible to do so before she is born - I feel a canyon between us though I carry her within me - but if these are to be my last four weeks with her I want to be grateful for them. Even as I hurt. Even as I wake up at 3 in the morning, in too much pain to sleep any longer. Even as I long for this pregnancy to end I want to be grateful for the fact that she exists.

I'll write here as I feel the need to, but I think October is going to be pretty quiet. Sometimes I think "oh, I should blog!" but that really isn't the case. I don't make any money off the blog, and I don't have advertisers counting on me, so there's no reason to keep up with things. It's just my place to write things out and there isn't much left to say that hasn't already been said.

Of course I'll share when baby girl is born. I have a feeling she will be here mid-October, but I could be very, very wrong. Instagram (@angelarodman) and Facebook will be the first places I update, so if you don't follow me there you may want to. I'll post about appointments there too. I know there are a lot of people thinking about us as we wait to meet our third child. Thank you for the support and prayers. If you want to send chocolate to get me through the next few weeks I'll gladly accept it, just email me and I'll let you know where to send it :)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

finding air

I was walking out of Costco this morning with Bennett in the front of the cart chattering away about the smiley face the person on the door drew on our receipt. I was thinking about the beautiful coolness of the weather, the man with 100 cans of diet soda and a bottle of honey in his cart (really, that's all you needed to buy and you decided to come to Costco?) how embarrassed I would be if anyone I knew saw me as my outfit was firmly in the 'nothing fits anymore category' .... just drifting, drifting, drifting when Bennett called out, "circ!"

"Yes! Good job, that's a circle!" I said nodding as he pointed to the smiley face on the back of the receipt. Bennett is learning so much so quickly I can hardly keep up right now. Daily he says a word or names a concept I didn't know he had grasped. When stringing together two, or three, or sometimes four words Bennett speaks slowly and deliberately, focused on making himself heard and understood.

A bee dive bombed us relentlessly as we weaved to our car. I swatted at it, which made Bennett laugh, but I told him it was no laughing matter. I'm terrified of his first bee sting. I have a feeling he's allergic so I do everything I can to prevent one from happening. I loaded everything into the car and then headed to the next store on our list. After I parked I lifted Bennett out of his car seat and set him on the ground.

"You can walk, but you have to hold my hand because we are in a parking lot."

"No!" He turned and wrapped his arms around my legs. "Hold."

I bent down and lifted him into my arms. "Okay, I'll carry you in, but then you have to sit in the cart. I can't carry you all the time right now."

Bennett wrapped his arms around my neck and hugged me tightly. He is so affectionate. Bennett is a boy on the run, but he loves his quiet cuddle times. Even at two he needs holding in the morning and snuggling in the evening. Bennett is busy, busy, busy, but he loves the quiet times throughout the day when we sit on the couch and read with a blanket tucked around our legs.

After sidewalk chalk time while I unloaded groceries, lunch and a bath I settled him in his bed for stories, songs and nap. When we painted his room last week we moved the rocker out. I want him to have more room to play, rocking him down for nap wasn't working anymore and it makes more sense to move it into our room for a while. Bennett asked me to rock him, as he does every afternoon, but I told him no, we would read in his bed.

Naps have been a huge struggle the last few weeks. Lately I've encouraged an hour of rest time in the crib (because he won't stay in his bed) which means 45 minutes of yelling for me and 15 minutes of quiet play time. Today we read then I laid down next to Bennett for songs. I held his hands, sang to him and then waited a few minutes. He fell asleep. 10 minutes of rest for me that resulted in a sleeping boy - victory!

As I put Bennett to sleep I thought about how these are the sweetest moments of my life. Raising Bennett is a lot of fun. I love watching him grow. My days can be long and tedious. I'm at the end of a pregnancy which has made everyone around me throw up their hands and say, "No more!" Sleep is hard to come by. I can hardly breathe the anxiety coursing through me is so powerful. But there are pockets of air. Places of rest. Moments of calm. It's easier than it was two years ago. There are times during the day when I panic and I'm still restless at night. I'm in and out of bed, pacing the house, trying to get comfortable, but there's a little boy asleep in his room - or in our bed - who reminds me that pregnancy ends with the birth of a beautiful soul. And it often ends well.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

a little extra monitoring

Yesterday I had my first prenatal with a different midwife at the clinic. Usually one rotates between the midwives, but I've been sticking with the one who knows our story and walked some of it with us.

The appointment was fine, I liked the midwife well enough. I wasn't quite sure what to say when she began with, "I assume you're seeing me because your midwife is out. Thank you for allowing me to see you." She seemed a little put out by my refusal to follow the clinic rules, but I am sensitive right now so perhaps it meant absolutely nothing. Or maybe my chart says, 'go cautiously, difficult case,' and she had no idea where to begin.

Refocusing ...

Baby girl is doing well, but one of the doctors at the clinic wants a little extra monitoring. I feel like it's more to cover them than me since the specialist said one non-stress test a week is fine, but I'm always okay with over the top care.

So every Monday I'll have a non-stress test and prenatal, every Thursday will be a non-stress test, check of fluid levels and quick consult with one of the doctors.

The midwife I saw yesterday did not reassure me in the slightest when she said, "This baby is perfectly healthy, there is nothing to suggest otherwise, we're just going to exercise a little caution," but at least she tried.

The other bit that threw me is we are measuring a little small. I've been right on track, but yesterday I measured 33 weeks (I'll be 35 weeks tomorrow). I'm sure it's fine, baby girl was very active and my babies are always small, but if it happens again next week I'm asking for an ultrasound. Though we don't know why Charlotte died there has always been a theory that she stopped growing at some point, so the thought of measuring small sends me into a bit of a panic.

All is well, but these are the most stressful weeks. I have to keep track of kick counts, be careful about overdoing it, be mindful about resting if I feel any contractions.

I have a feeling she's going to be born mid-October, but I could definitely be wrong. Our next big milestone: 37 weeks,  October 9th.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

loving the zealous quarter

Friday night J came home from work a little miserable. "I think I have an abscess " he said poking at his mouth.

"Oh! What are you going to do?" I asked.

{First mistake}

"Well, I think I have some stuff I can take, and I did some research. I need to run to Walgreens for a syringe so I can inject ..."

At this point I stopped listening.

You're going to inject something into your mouth?? I thought.

"What about the dentist?"

"She'll just want to do a root canal. I think I can fix this on my own. I need to take a few things and do an oil pulling with coconut oil right now."

As soon as something crops up J is at the local health store buying things to knock it out. I've been storing everything he comes home with in the kitchen and dining room, but I am rapidly running out of space. However, we are reaching a point where if one asks for an herbal remedy there's a good chance we have it, or a good substitute for it.

J did his oil pulling, took a whole host of things to fight off infection and headed out. He came home a little disappointed because he couldn't find a syringe, but told me it was fine because he could just get one from the hospital. Of course.

Last night after work J said he needed a special kind of hydrogen peroxide that is only sold at a co-op in Portland. There was no mention of a syringe or what exactly was going to be injected with the syringe so I assumed we were on to the next thing: highly volatile hydrogen peroxide not sold in regular stores. Oh, and, it must be kept cold or it will explode. My first thought was, call the dentist you silly goose but I kept that one to myself and said, "Okay, you're sure you can't buy it nearby?" Oh no, he could not, so off we went to Portland today, cooler and ice packs in hand, to buy the hydrogen peroxide.

And now J is swilling on a very diluted version of that and waiting on results while I wonder when we became people who talk about building our own house so we can have a kitchen with a fermenting cupboard. Well, that's more J's dream. I just want a bigger kitchen so I can fit all of the herbal medicine and gadgets J buys (juicer, food dehydrator, vegetable chopper ...). And I need a bigger bathroom because toothpaste and tooth care is high on the list of interests right now and we only have one little medicine cabinet. 

I have to remember that J does all of this - and it's not just about what we eat, or how we care for our teeth - because he loves Bennett and me and wants us to be healthy. This is particularly hard to do when he argues with the saleslady at Stride Rite about proper shoe flexibility while buying new shoes for Bennett (she makes minimum wage and her job is to sell you these shoes, stop arguing!) or when he enthusiastically shares how bad grains are with anyone who will listen (we still eat grains, but we have cut back a lot).

I know I frustrate J sometimes because he comes home bursting with exciting information he's learned and more often than not my response is, "Okay, just tell me what I need to change/buy/do. Will you bring me some ice cream?" And sometimes I get overly sensitive and defensive because I feel like I'm trying my best, but it's still not enough, there will always be something more to change. J sees this as healthy growth while I see it as uncomfortable stretching. It's just one of the ways we process and see the world differently.

At least it keeps life interesting. I never know what J is going to come up with next, or what subject will consume him tomorrow. Learning to embrace the little bit of zealot in J has been interesting and difficult for me, and to be honest I haven't done a great job of it. But if the hydrogen peroxide works for J's abscess we'll take care of you if one crops up. And if you have any questions about grains, or tooth care, or what your optimal diet should be pour yourself a cup of tea (or twelve) and have a good long sit down with J. You'll learn a lot.

Friday, September 20, 2013

uneasy, unsettled waiting

This place of suspended time feels like an endless plateau that will never drop sharply into the wilderness of new baby care and the upheaval raising two will surely bring.

Even as the days tick over, as events pass and new ones come, I feel motionless. The shared nursery is being painted. The artwork is framed and ready to be hung. I am growing, I can feel the stretching, and yet I am motionless. Waiting.

Waiting for a change I'll never be prepared or ready for. Waiting for the shift in time when everything clicks into place and four magically become five. We only have to figure out how to live as four, but my heart always senses the fifth. The absent one.

These days of a very needy boy who only wants mama will end, though I can't imagine how, or why I would want them to. Even though I'm exhausted I love the tiny one who wants to spend most of his time in my arms. Head on shoulder, nose to neck, he pats my back and squeezes. Newly learned affection. Still waiting on that first, "I love you."
Sometimes he sleeps through the night. Other times he climbs in with us. I might regret it later, but for now I'm quite happy with his little feet pressing into his sister's while I stare at the wall and wait for the nights to pass.

I hold the idea of six or so weeks left in my hands, but I can't seem to make it reach my mind or heart. I can't fathom having two living children. It seems a common occurrence meant for others.

This is how it is for every mother at the end of pregnancy. Anxiety, anticipation, a general feeling of being unsettled and on edge. For me there's the added weight of what came before. There is paperwork from the specialist that states reason for care as "history of neonatal death," sitting on my kitchen table. There is uneasiness and the weight of wondering if history will repeat itself.

There's a little boy in pajamas eating applesauce next to me saying, "name baby Hope," over and over because we've been talking about names a lot and he wants to participate in the conversation. He too is waiting, but his idea of what is to come is vague and hazy. He senses enough of a shift to cling, but he's not worried or scared.

Somehow even this far in it doesn't seem real, or possible, to end in a place where our family is complete. Perhaps that's because we'll always be a partial circle, never closed, always reaching across a gap where she should be. Or perhaps it's due to the knowledge of our impermanence and just how fragile we all are.

As September folds into October we wait: for a birthday, a name, and the end to this part of our story.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

it's not going to happen

The lists are piling up. I have at least three going right now: things to do, food to make, important things to remember. I might have more. I can't remember, and I can't find them, so we'll say I have three going.

Today I wanted to:

make and freeze a double batch of winter stew - it is in the crock-pot!

take Bennett to story time - they need to cap the number of people who can come. Things have quieted since school started, but this week the room was swarming with toddlers and caregivers. I'm sure fire codes were broken.

clean out Bennett's room so J can tape it this evening (tomorrow is painting day!!) - done!



general tidy (toys all over the floor drive me crazy. we've just started working with Bennett on picking up before bed because I don't like waking up to this in the morning)


clean the bathroom

Those last five probably won't happen. Until J gets home and does half of them for me while making dinner (I have an appointment with the chiropractor). 

It's hard for me to admit I can't do everything I would like to. That list isn't very big, it would normally be easy for me to get it all done, but this 34 weeks pregnant third time around business is rough. I could push myself to get it done and then make everyone's lives miserable this evening because I'm in pain. Or I could accept that I can't do it all and stop trying.

I am so thankful for J and my mom. They help a lot. I don't know what the state of things would be without them. My mom did some of the deep cleaning chores on my to do list last week and this week she is helping me paint the nursery. J works full time and then comes home and helps around the house. I get frustrated because things aren't as clean or tidy as I would like, but at least we have clean clothes and a mostly clean kitchen.

I can't believe how tired I am. I have six weeks left (at the most!) and there's still a lot to do. And some of it is really important (packing a hospital bag, making a detailed care guide for the person in charge of Bennett when I'm in labor). I think I need to prioritize things so I stop working on projects that don't have to be done (rearranging Bennett's bookshelf) and accomplish the ones that really matter.

But all I want to do is eat (but I feel so sick!) and pretend delivering this baby isn't right around the corner. In four weeks I could have a newborn. Now that is something to panic about, and there is not a list out there that will take that anxiety away.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

this is pretty perfect

I was trying to prepare and make a double batch of hash for Bennett, but he was not having it. After ten solid minutes of "I watch!" "Sit lap mama!" "Kiss!" "Kiss!" Kiss!" "Pick up!" "Hug!" "Hold!" I gave up and spent some time cuddling him. He is really, really into spending time together right now. I wouldn't have it any other way. The hash was quickly finished when he went down for a nap (without rocking or getting out of bed!!). I probably won't get the double batch of winter stew prepped, or the double batch of tortillas made like I wanted to, but there is time enough for that tomorrow. And that last "kiss, mama!" picture is the sweetest. I might have to print and frame it. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

b is sick. again

We are stuck in a horrible sick toddler cycle and are a little lost as to how we should proceed. Bennett's tummy hasn't been the same since the allergic reaction two weeks ago - or whatever that mess was - but he's been feeling okay.

Last week (I think, it's all beginning to blur together) he had a rough night where he almost threw up twice, but never did. It was more like dry heaving. Then last night he woke up at 11:30 puking, poor kiddo. I stayed in the guest room with him so J could get some sleep. Bennett threw up one more time at 2:30, but he's been fine this morning (though his diapers are not) even though he doesn't want to eat much. This morning when I asked him if he felt sick he said no. Then I asked, "what happened last night," and he said, "I barf." Thanks, kiddo, I know. I was there. Now let's discuss why it's so difficult for you to throw up in a proper receptacle.

I'm so frustrated. It's hard to feed Bennett and make sure he is receiving adequate nutrition. And now I'm wondering if there is something he is allergic to that I'm missing. I thought the sugar overload on Saturday might have been the problem since he doesn't eat much sugar, but it doesn't make sense that he wouldn't throw up until Sunday at 11:30 if that was the culprit. And we haven't given him any more cake even though he asks for it at every meal.

I made him muffins yesterday and that might be the issue, but I didn't use anything he hasn't had before and I know I didn't include any allergens. I just about drive myself crazy when he gets sick because I want to know what the problem is so we can fix it. It is possible he has a little virus, but that possibility is usually the last one I consider. When I was changing him before rest time I noticed a few spots on his skin and nearly cried. It's so frustrating to always wonder if something I'm doing is making him sick and I hate feeling like I can't feed him properly, even though I am trying really, really hard! 

We have to get Bennett feeling better and sort his gut out so we don't have any more problems. No one is enjoying the late nights and sad, sick toddler. We have probiotics on the way and we were doing glutamine because that shores up the gut, but when I read that the main side effect of glutamine is an upset tummy I took Bennett off it last week. 

It's super hard to make sure he doesn't get any allergens EVER as we have a small kitchen and don't have a separate set of cooking utensils, pots and pants etc. to absolutely ensure zero cross contamination, but I think we do a pretty good job. (Yesterday J was making jam while I made pizza dough and muffins. When we ran into each other for the tenth time I told him we need to win a kitchen remodel contest. Only problem is our house is small and there is nowhere to expand to other than out to the driveway. J said that would be fine. I think we're both a little tired of this house). I just hope we can figure something out soon since Bennett has been feeling less than himself for two weeks now.

I'm scared Bennett's losing weight (again) because of all this, but I'm not going to weigh him because I don't want to see that he's still at 19 or 20 lbs. I need to get him in for his two year well check, but I want him to be feeling a little better as there's probably a vaccine or two he needs and those always make him ill. And I really, really dread that moment when they put him on the scale. It feels a little like an indictment every time they call that number out. I need to work up the courage to go in and face it.

I'm trying. I'm doing the best I can. I just don't have many options.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

bennett's second birthday: the party

It's a good thing birthdays only come around once a year because they turn me into an emotional crazy cake which makes everyone around me miserable. This year the madness was amplified by third trimester pregnancy hormones which really made everyone around me miserable.

Celebrating Bennett's birthday always makes me miss Charlotte. I get all weepy about how I'll never plan a party for her, or buy her gifts, and then those thoughts eventually turn into I'll never get to watch her grow up thoughts and then I can't stop crying. This raising Bennett while grieving and missing his sister is complicated and emotionally messy.

I thought we weren't going to have a cake, but thanks to a friend who introduced me to her friend (does that make sense?) I was able to procure a cake Bennett could eat. As we were packing up my mom asked Bennett how his party was and he said, "I ate cake!" And this evening when we asked him if there was anything he wanted to thank Jesus for he said, "Cake" with a big smile. Cake for the birthday boy; a simple thing but I nearly cried when I saw the joy in his eyes.

And let me tell you, Bennett on a sugar high is something else. He was cracking J and I up this evening. We bought him a little backpack for his birthday because he is into carrying five thousand things with him wherever he goes. He put four leftover water bottles from the party inside and proceeded to stumble around the house like a toddler on a bender. We asked him if it was too heavy. He said no, even as he fell over trying to walk into the family room.

 Nothing went as planned, which sent me into a whole new realm of crazy, but when Bennett looked over the train park today and said, "Choo-Choo! Steam! Eng!" I regained perspective on what we were doing and why. I get so caught up in doing things a certain way I lose sight of what really matters. I have to remind myself over and over and over that birthdays come and go, and how one little party turns out doesn't make much of a difference. What we're really celebrating is Bennett's life and the joy he brings to ours. That kid is a firecracker who has no idea how much healing and hope he has brought into this house.

Love you to the moon and back, sweet boy.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

less than perfect, maybe not even my best

Oh you guys, I am so tired. Same song, different day, but let me tell you, I am exhausted and in so. much. pain. Bennett is in a bit of a challenging phase right now, which has a lot to do with the baby coming. Or at least I think it does. Either that or he turned 2 and had a personality change. He hasn't napped for four days, which makes bedtime really easy, but wow these days are loooong.

I had all of these things I wanted to do before baby comes, but finding time to do them with a very busy Bennett is not easy. He enjoys helping me in the kitchen, but when I want to get a double or triple batch of tortillas made and in the freezer he adds at least thirty minutes to the process. Plus he eats all of my dough.

I've been thinking about two years ago and how I thought I would be the most patient parent ever because I was so glad my child was alive, but ya know that's not always the case. I confess, I snapped at Bennett this morning because he spilled water on the couch. Water on a microfiber couch. It wiped up without a problem. It wasn't a big deal. But I snapped at him because everything irritates me right now. If I had a parenting motto I think it would be - always do the best you can. And honestly, right now I'm not sure I'm doing the best I can. Yesterday I ate ice cream from the carton while Bennett had rest time in the crib in his room. Today I ate chocolate chips. I don't think "stress eat like it's your job," is on the list of recommended pregnancy activities, but if it were I would get top marks. I need a few minutes every day to put my feet up and be alone. And right now that consists of eating as much sugar as I can in a short amount of time while Bennett alternates between playing quietly for two seconds and yelling "Mama!! All done!!" for two minutes.

I wouldn't have it any other way. You know that, right? This is a welcome chaos. This is even a happy chaos. But I am a tired mama. And because Charlotte died I feel like I don't have the right to complain. I feel like I'm not being grateful enough. I feel like I need to find a way to be better or do better or change. After all, I know the alternative. I know what it's like to have an empty nursery and dreams packed in boxes. I would much rather have a two year old standing on my lap trying to flip the tortillas on the hot griddle with his left hand while he eats a ball of dough with his right.

But this end of pregnancy gig is tough. It's hard on me. It's hard on J. It's hard on Bennett. I am under an extreme amount of stress and worry. Even if we wanted more kids I would have to say no because this version of me is not good and I can't expose my family to it again.

I just want to know she'll be okay. I want her here and alive, but I know that is not always the outcome and the knowledge of what can happen weighs so heavily on my mind it's hard to be anything but a mess. So I snap, I stress, I eat ice cream in the middle of the day and I remind myself over and over and over: this pregnancy will not last forever. And thankfully Bennett most likely won't remember the hot day in September when I snapped at him for spilling a little water on the couch.

Inhale grace and calm. 

Exhale fear and worry.




Monday, September 9, 2013


Bennett is two today! (Here's his birth story) I love how his little personality is starting to develop and shine - he's a little trickster. Honestly, this post is more for me than you, but I hope you enjoy it.

I love how Bennett:

- says "choo-choo."

- opens and closes his hands when he talks about birds.

- says "yand" for "land" and "yike" for like.

- enjoys reading and loves the "bia bia!" (library).

- says "moon, back" when I ask him how much I love him. I'm still waiting on that first "I love you!"

- calls his daily vitamin his "ibis."

-  calls "bis" bacon and "pis" pizza.

-  names his friends and cousins when we are discussing daily plans because he thinks every day should be spent with friends.

- can carry on a full conversation with us now.

- still wants to be rocked to sleep at nap time.

- bends over and slaps his knee when he finds something particularly funny, or when he thinks he is being clever.

And of course I love how wonderful the last two years have been.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

it never goes away

This morning a friend and I who have been trying to cobble together a ministry for pregnancy and infant loss at our church had our first outing as a ministry. Our church had a fall kick-off event for women and we were asked to set up a table that people could visit at the beginning and end of the event. It was just the kick we needed to push our ideas from almost completed to ready to present.

At first we wondered if anyone would be interested in our table as the demographic was mostly older women, but it quickly became apparent that there were people who wanted, and needed, to speak with us.

It blessed my heart, and made my soul ache, to see women who lost 15 years ago tear up when we offered them a small gift in memory of their baby. They were shy about taking it, reluctant even, but they always accepted. I saw at least one woman steal away during the luncheon hour to pick up a gift from the table and my heart just broke for her. It is so easy to internalize grief and allow the isolation that comes with the death of a baby to obscure the pain and longing.

This generation, our generation, is speaking out about loss and what it is like to lose a baby. We are standing as tall as we can without them and we refuse to move on or forget. I think social media helps because it strips away the feelings of isolation and lonesomeness. Even in the middle of the night, in darkened houses when everyone else is asleep and the tears come, we can reach out and find someone who is awake and understands.

Perhaps this refusal to be silenced can be used to reach out to those who were forced, or expected to, move on after losing a baby. Perhaps our strength can embolden our mothers and grandmothers to share their stories. Because one can tuck that lost baby, or babies, deep inside but the memories, the counting of lost years, and the longing and wondering never dissipate. That just has to wear on a person and offering to listen and hold a small piece of the grief may allow healing and release. 15, 20, even 40 years, is an awful long time to be silent and grieve alone.

Today I was reminded of the woman who shared her loss with me shortly after Charlotte died. It had been 43 years since her son was stillborn, but she still wondered if he was the child who would not have disappointed her. She still missed him and she still grieved over the fact that she never saw or held him. I know many loss parents who mourn over a lack of pictures, or a short time with their baby, but can you imagine never having the opportunity, or choice, to meet that sweet soul?

Today I was also reminded that there is opportunity in brokenness and there is healing in sharing, even if the story is "just about a miscarriage." (You know how I feel about that phrase). I feel blessed to have this opportunity to listen. Every baby is a miracle and every story matters. I don't know where our little ministry will go from here, that's in the Lord's capable hands, but I feel blessed to have this opportunity to reach out a hand and offer to listen.

Thursday, September 5, 2013


Our last appointment with the maternal fetal medicine doctor was this morning. He was really pleased with growth and progress so we are cleared to deliver with the midwife at Corvallis hospital.

Baby girl is almost 4 lbs (which isn't very accurate but still fun to think about) and WAY low. The sonographer said she couldn't believe how low she was at 32 weeks. She wasn't able to get a clear shot of her face, or even her head really, because she is so low. And I had to be tilted way back just for her to get an idea of head measurements. So that might explain why my pelvis hurts so bad.

Bennett enjoyed seeing his baby sister. He did great, he made it through the entire appointment. The doctor doesn't even think we need to do extra testing. I'll have a NST at every prenatal appointment, but he doesn't think anything beyond that is necessary as long as her kick counts are good.

With well wishes and a hug from the doctor we're done with specialist care for this pregnancy. Yay! Now we just have to hit full term and then we'll wait and see when she decides to be born. I imagine we will be somewhere in the 38/39 week range. I have an October 20 something birth date in my head for her, but we'll see what she decides. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

certainty in uncertain times

On Sunday at the very beginning of the sermon the pastor made a very brief comment about Syria and how we can rely on God to be our certainty in uncertain times. I needed to hear that for two reasons:

1. I am so worried about our nation and the choices our President is on the cusp of making.

2. I am so worried about my babies.

Today I'm going to write about my babies, because I know them and I don't know nearly enough to create a sentence about what is happening in our world right now.

It doesn't look like we will know why Bennett had a reaction. Our church no longer gives snacks during second hour, so he did not receive food at church. We're still waiting to hear from the person in the room at the time, but it sounds like that wasn't the problem. Maybe he found something on the floor? Maybe he got into something at home? We're really careful about leaving food out and making sure he can't get to anything he is allergic to, but accidents happen.

Anyway. It happened. Bennett had a really bad reaction and I had to find the wherewithal to stay calm. It's nearly impossible for me to be rational when he's sick, but this time I managed to stop myself from going straight to, "he's going to die." I was able to walk the living room floor while Bennett held onto me screaming at the top of his lungs without panicking.

When J went out for medication (twice) I was able to hold onto the temporariness of the situation, even though I usually need J's reassurance to do so. As I held Bennett's sweaty body tight and paced the living room, my back aching, his legs draped awkwardly over my growing belly, I prayed for peace and healing. And I found a solid place where I understood that all would be well.

One topic that always comes up when I'm spending time with my loss mamas is protecting our children and how helpless it makes us feel to know we can't. In or out of the womb we cannot ensure their survival. Every day we have to give them over to God and pray for safety and protection. Each morning we wake in uncertain times, in a world gone mad, on roads we didn't foresee, and we have to turn it all over to the Lord and remember that He will hold fast to the promises set forth in the Bible. Promises to sustain and protect and love not only us but our children.

I can't watch over Bennett every second of every day and keep him with me at all times so he doesn't accidentally eat something he is allergic to. I can't will or wish our baby girl to be healthy at birth. I can't go back in time and force Charlotte to breathe. I can't alter any outcomes through worry, but I can remember to find that place of certainty and reassurance even when I'm swimming through the dark waters of fear.

Monday, September 2, 2013

so that's what 'glutened' means

We don't know exactly what happened, but Bennett was exposed to something yesterday, and we're pretty sure it was gluten. We were all up most of the night with a very sad Bennett with a seriously upset stomach. He screamed on and off (mostly on) from 7:30-2:30 when we finally gave him a dose of Benadryl to knock him out.

J ran out twice to buy digestive enzymes and other things to help settle his stomach, but nothing helped for long. The blistering diaper rash did not help matters. It broke my heart to hold him while he screamed "all done!" and hit his diaper over and over. It's impossible to explain to a two-year-old that he is going to feel poorly until whatever he ate that irritated him passes through.

It's so hard managing a little one with food allergies. Bennett is not in our care all of the time, but it's hard to relinquish control when things like this happen. Like I said, we don't know what happened, but it looks like he was either given snack in the nursery during church, or another little one gave him something. I think he was given snack despite our precautions because his reaction was so extreme and the snack I provided was still in his bag. I don't think a small bit off the floor or from another kiddo would do that to him, but he's never had gluten so I could be wrong.

J and I don't want to make anyone feel bad, or accuse anyone of anything, but we're going to have to do something before we put Bennett back in the nursery at church. I do not want to go through what we experienced last night again. Bennett was in pain, horrible screaming pain, and I'll do anything I can to prevent that from happening in the future.

It's so hard to find a balance between general protection and obsessive control. Do I make everything Bennett puts in his mouth myself? Do I keep him with me at all times? I spent days trying to figure out what we're going to do for Bennett's birthday cake and now that we have someone willing to make it for us I'm wondering if I should cancel the order. I gave a detailed list of instructions, but what if an ingredient is used that he can't have?

When we are out and about, or on a play date, I shudder when the goldfish crackers or granola bars or food of any kind comes out. It's stressful to keep an eye on every piece of food all the time, which is why I let some things go, and which is why Bennett will get a little rash any time we are away from home for two days or more. But this was waaaaaaaaaaay more than a rash.

Maybe it's time for a food allergy bracelet? But he has so many allergies how do we pick which ones to put on the bracelet? I've seen stickers that say, "food allergies, please don't feed me," or "food allergies" followed by a few blanks. Maybe I should order some of those and stick one on his shirt (or forehead??) before I send him somewhere without me.

I'm frustrated. And sleep deprived. Bennett seems to be feeling better this morning, but he's still having some residual issues. Hopefully the worst is behind us.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

day out: enchanted forest

A while back I got it in my head that I wanted to take Bennett to Enchanted Forest, a local theme park, before the new baby comes. I often fixate on an idea and decide it must happen, but the end result is always different than I expected/planned and I'm always left a little disappointed/confused.

Bennett is (nearly) 2. How could he not love a theme park full of fairy tale characters? Well, he did not. Now, I wouldn't say he hated the excursion, but shortly after our arrival he tripped merrily up to the 3 Bears house and the ensuing roars scared the pants off him. After that things were a little touch and go and he was not going anywhere dark or enclosed thank you very much. Bennett is so brave so often I sometimes forget he's still quite young. And he doesn't usually cling to me so it always surprises me a bit when he decides mama is the only answer. (Although there has been quite a bit more of that lately. I think he senses big changes on the horizon).

He liked the Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole and he enjoyed the Old Woman and the Shoe slide as well as the train but most of it he felt rather meh about. And J and I felt it was a little spendy considering all rides (of which B could only do one, poor thing inherited a slight lack of height) cost extra. We did pay $1.00 so he could "pan for gold" and he has been carrying the four rocks he found around all day so that was one win for everyone.

We also saw a terribly fabulous production of Pinocchio, which I thought we were going to have to abandon in the first few minutes as Bennett's lip was protruding quite alarmingly, but we stuck with the thirty minute performance and Bennett thought it good enough to high five Pinocchio at the end. I thought it was dreadful, but J said it was funny for kids and my annoyance at the play and its pop cultural references that flew over my head could be chalked up to general pregnancy irritation. He's probably right.

But it was fun to get out and spend time together as a family. When we go on fun outings we try to remember to thank the Lord for giving us the means and opportunity to partake. This summer has been full of fun vacations and day trips and we are blessed a thousand times over to be able to do the things I decide must be done.

I am painfully aware of how little time is left before the three of us become four. I know taking Bennett to a quirky local attraction will not make the transition to four any easier, but it makes me feel a little better to give him as much time and attention as I can before I have to shift my focus a bit.

This next week is a big one. Actually the next two are big ones. This week I have a prenatal with my midwife, a desperately needed adjustment with the chiropractor and a big, fat ultrasound/consultation with the maternal fetal medicine doctor. Everyone cross fingers and toes and send prayers that baby girl is growing well and we will be released to the midwife for the final stage of this pregnancy. Released to the midwife, now that's a strange phrase, but you know what I mean. Next Saturday the little ministry for those who have lost babies a friend and I are trying to start at our church has its debut at the fall kick-off for women. We'll just be sitting behind a table offering resources and talking to people, but that's still more than we've been doing so I'm feeling a bit anxious about that.

And then on the 9th my sweet Bennett turns TWO and at the end of that week we're having his birthday party. I keep thinking I have his birthday party to crank out and then I can just sit around until the end of October, but there's a lot more coming up after the 14th. I'm just not ready to think about it.


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