Showing posts with label pregnancy after loss. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pregnancy after loss. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

loved baby: book review & giveaway




I had intentions of posting this review during pregnancy and infant loss week, but I forgot about how turtle-like I become during October when I'm pregnant.

Loved Baby by Sarah Philpott is a well written book of devotions about pregnancy and infant loss. Philpott covers topics from miscarriage to stillbirth to pregnancy after loss to living a childless life to adoption. She takes the many strands of pregnancy and infant loss and weaves them together to include all who have lost under an umbrella of hope and love. And each devotion is full of reminders of the hope and love of Jesus Christ.

I wish I had a copy of Loved Baby after Charlotte died, but even now, 7 years after she died, it has been a helpful and comforting read. Loved Baby is a thoughtful, meaningful book to gift to someone after they have lost a baby.

Thanks to the Blog About Blogger Network I have a copy of Loved Baby to give to you.


Leave a comment if you would like to enter to win. I'll select a winner on Sunday November 5th.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

pregnancy after loss {the third time around}


I'd like to tell you it gets easier - and in some ways it does - but in many of the big ways it's hard because the trauma is still very much there.

This pregnancy I'm working with my therapist on managing my cortisol levels so I go into the labor / delivery situation calm and able to remain so. I think this is a very lofty goal, but we are working towards making at least some progress before the baby comes. I've been in therapy since January so I hope I am at least slightly better at managing my anxiety and stress.

I am slowly getting used to the idea of having another baby. I bought a car seat because it was on sale, and I found the baby swing I really wanted so I bought that as well - more on that later as it is a good story - but then my therapist tells me to tour the hospital where I'm going to deliver and I'm like, Oh no, that is NOT happening. This one is going to magically appear. Jesus and I have talked about this.

And then she's like, "No really, you need to tour the hospital."


So while I was wrapping my mind around that idea I put on my brave girl pants and began putting together a small baby registry and looked on Craigslist to see if the swing / seat I was hoping to find used was for sale.

I saw this swing at a friend's house and it was the most interesting / futuristic baby seat swing I have seen. It was fascinating and I said, "What is this? Where did you find it? I need one!" And then she told me she had bought it used because the retail price is $$$$$ and I immediately began looking for one. I can't even explain how different it is - look up the Mamaroo and watch a video.



Yesterday was my lucky day because I found one nearby and it was a reasonable price. I began e-mailing the seller and we agreed to meet up this morning. And then she sent another e-mail:

Just wanted to say, I saw the link in your signature of your email and it caught my eye because I lost 2 babies- I delivered twins at 21 weeks in 2015 and  just went through a very high risk/stressful pregnancy with my 8 month old little girl.  Congrats to you and hang in there, I know how stressful it is.


We e-mailed back and forth a bit about our experiences, and it reminded me that pregnancy and infant loss is everywhere. While I have felt like I'm meeting with a long series of compassion-less providers this pregnancy there are a lot of people who understand and are willing to spare a moment to send encouragement and kindness my way.

There's the friends and family who are excited and hopeful for us because we can't find the emotional wherewithal to get to that place yet.

There's the providers who are extremely caring and willing to receive my desperate texts about the possibility of private hospital tours because I am not interested in hanging out with shiny happy first time moms.

There's the sweet elderly lady from our old neighborhood who checks in every couple weeks via a phone call to see how the baby is and how I'm doing. She tells me she is praying for me, she says she is thrilled we are having another baby because we are wonderful parents, she tosses out name ideas and tells me the same few stories over and over again. Her phone calls lift my spirits immensely.

And there's the kids: B and Ains are over the moon about having a sibling. They love babies, they're excited to change diapers and love on a sister. Their excitement is carrying me through the darker moments of this pregnancy; the moments when I doubt if I can do this again - the whole shebang, birth to newborn days to raising another one - because it feels too overwhelming and hard.

Pregnancy after loss is hard, but it's worth it. I promise. Even though this is not what we planned. Even though we're still reeling a bit and trying to figure out what exactly we need and how exactly it's all going to work. Even though we can't agree on a name and it doesn't seem likely that we will. Even though being pregnant and facing another birth brings up a lot of trauma ....

It will all be worth it when we meet our new baby girl.


Friday, November 1, 2013

I couldn't let go (1/4 of a birth story)


We are home and adjusting well. Ainsleigh is a champion nurser and Bennett is doing quite well with all of the changes. He loves his sister with an intensity that must be closely monitored. Bennett loves to kiss and hold Ainsleigh, it's the sweetest thing.

I think it's going to take me a while to write up Ainsleigh's birth story because I had such a difficult time of it but I do have to get some thoughts down.

I had the best team possible for this birth. The midwife I saw throughout the pregnancy was there as well as the midwife who has been with us for all of my pregnancies and births. Of course J was there. He caught Ainsleigh just as he caught Bennett and Charlotte.

And the nurses were wonderful too. I was very pleased with how kindly everyone treated the situation. I think our midwife must have been informing everyone personally about Charlotte, or she may have made it very evident on my chart, because every single staff person was kind and understanding and we didn't have to repeat the story over and over and over. Even the lactation consultant was sensitive to our situation. When we were talking about how many babies I have I said something about having three but only nursing two and her response was, "Yes, but the first is important too."

 We were blessed to be so well cared for during an emotionally difficult time. Ainsleigh was fine throughout the delivery, but I struggled. When I decided I wanted an epidural because I could not see myself letting go so Ainsleigh could be born (I have this amazing ability to stop contractions and decide to go no further even at 7 and 8 cm) I received so much love and support from my care team.

The physical pain wasn't unmanageable, but the heart pain was too much.


I cried more during Ainsleigh's labor and delivery than I have in a long, long time. It was the kind of crying that just won't quit; even when you're exhausted, even when you want it to.

I'm a little sad I won't have the water birth I always dreamed of. I thought this birth might be different because I had the experience of Bennett's birth stacked on top of Charlotte's, but knowing it was a girl made it more difficult. I hate that there is a well of trauma deep within my soul that makes pregnancy and birth such an overwhelming prospect. If I could alter my perspective somehow I would, but after Ainsleigh's birth I finally understand that the trauma is entrenched and it's not something I can overcome with willpower and prayer. I was blessed to be surrounded by people who pulled me up, held me together and told me, "you are not a failure" when I realized I couldn't do it.

And now that Ainsleigh is here the question of how she arrived doesn't matter. What's important is the life we've managed to create from the desolation of grief. Our little family doesn't feel complete, but it does feel whole. And for the first time in a long, long while I feel like I can quit striving and dreaming and focus on the present and raising and loving my babies.


  

Thursday, October 24, 2013

decisions and conflicting emotions


Still pregnant! In case you were wondering. In fact, this is the longest a pregnancy has gone for me (yay?) and baby girl (must figure out a name) seems quite content for now.


I remember saying over and over that this would be an October baby, but she may end up being born in early November. One of the difficult things about pregnancy after loss for me is trying to balance the pre-loss part of me that believes babies come when they are ready with the post-loss part of me that has a lot of concerns about stillbirth and/or a deteriorating placenta.

My thoughts and emotions are all over the place. I know it's important for babies to have time to develop their lungs and grow as much as they need to in the womb, but she is alive right now and doing well right now SO GET HER OUT. Oh but wait, I don't want her to come out because then I'll have to go through labor and what if she dies?? ....

And those thoughts make it very difficult for me to go into labor because I am tense and stressed and can't calm down enough to relax and dilate.

I struggled mightily with this during Bennett's pregnancy - I'm sure I blogged about it - but it ended up being a non-issue as he was born at 39 weeks 1 day. But I had signs from him that he wanted to come. This girl is giving me nothing. Nothing but heartburn, nausea and anxiety.

I really, really hope she is born this weekend. If not I go back in on Tuesday for another non-stress test and to check fluid levels. And then we'll have to make some decisions about what to do after that. BUT let's hope it doesn't come to that.

SEND ME SOME LABOR VIBES!!

Thanks :)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

modern medicine // prenatal care // disappointment // frustration


It's been hard, and more than a little strange, to transition to a traditional maternal care program. My first experience was way off the normal track - midwives, out of hospital birth (if anyone gives me a hard time about that right now I will lose it), while my second experience was a very unusual hybrid - I saw a midwife from my first pregnancy in tandem with a high risk doctor, both attended the birth (in a hospital). And now round three: I'm going to a traditional practice, but doing things my own way even though it drives the office staff mad and makes them stare at their computer screens in utter confusion as they mutter, "but we don't do things that way ..."

I had my first encounter with an OB at the practice this morning. I did not like the experience AT ALL. I'm not going to get into full details with dialogue here because I'm tired and have ranted a bit on facebook already, but my goodness, if that kind of care is what most women experience I am SO sorry.

{Now I know the midwife vs OB vs hospital vs home birth topic is a hot one. I'm not commenting on your experience. I'm sure your OB is a very nice person and you wouldn't hesitate to invite him/her to your house for Thanksgiving.}

There is no way I am going to birth outside of a hospital now. Not after what happened with Charlotte. It just doesn't seem wise - and some would argue it wasn't wise the first time around, but I am in no mood for that so you just hush - but the alternative is so unfriendly.

Today I was

- left on the monitors FOR AN HOUR (a non-stress test usually takes 20 minutes)
- stuck in a room without a clock, my phone just out of reach, staring at the screen and trying to ascertain if something was wrong, or if I had been forgotten
- forced to make the very uncomfortable decision to call the front desk from the exam room to inform them I was still there and waiting to see a doctor (this task only accomplished by hauling myself out of the chair, holding the monitors on and waving my hand around wildly until I managed to grab my purse) 
- talked down to
- ignored
- informed of an induction that I didn't consent to or ask for
- told by the scheduler who I have seen three weeks in a row now that I could not see my midwife in a week's time because "that's not how it's done," even though I have told her that is how it is done in my case every. single. week.
- pushed to the point where I eventually snapped, "my baby died ..." etc. which I absolutely hate doing

I am so annoyed. And I know some of that is because I'm pregnant and easily annoyed, but that has to be one of - if not the - worst medical office experiences I have found myself in. All because the midwife I normally see was out delivering a baby, which happens sometimes and is no fault of hers!

Somehow I came away with an induction scheduled, which I'm still not sure about, plans to check my cervix next week, though I declined, and a raging headache from listening to my sweet girl's heartbeat on the monitors for a solid hour (don't get me wrong, it's a lovely sound, but they had it turned up way too high).

Will you please say a little prayer for us? For a healthy baby who comes on her own, for a delivery that is a little easier than the last, for peace and calm and sleep? (A lot of this rant brought to you by a severe lack of sleep due to anxiety and overwhelming feeling of terror). 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

just in case


This always happens. I say I need a break and then I end up posting more than I expect because saying I can't do it takes the burden off somehow.

Last night I finally packed most of the hospital bag. I felt a lot better after, like a weight had been lifted. Having that bag doesn't change anything, but it makes me feel good to have a small stack at the foot of the dresser.

There is a small bag for when I am in labor, a slightly larger bag for after with clothes for me, J, the baby. And there is a bright red bag that holds a dress I bought when Bennett was tiny, a dress I just had to have because I hoped there was a future for it. There is a shiny black pair of dress shoes, a blue cardigan and a pink blanket folded around the dress. It's the just in case bag. The one we'll need if it all goes sideways again.

On top of the pile is a brown blanket I used for Bennett's birth. When I was pregnant with him my midwife suggested bringing something from home to comfort and ground me. After Charlotte died I was constantly wrapped in that blanket, an outward manifestation of the grief that engulfed me, so I chose to bring it. And I was amazed by how much it meant to me to have it during the birth and throughout Bennett's time in the NICU.

It's like a talisman, that pile of bags. It's reassuring to know there is a general birth plan, a list of names, nursing supplies and new pajamas within the pile. It reminds me that preparing for birth is something many go through and it is monumental no matter how one comes to it - whether through grief, or by accident, or with great planning and hope.

I always feel unsettled in these final weeks. On the cusp, holding my breath, waiting. The baby shower is tomorrow. I didn't want one with Bennett's pregnancy, it felt like a curse honestly, but I can see now that while life is essentially about cause and effect choosing to have a baby shower is not going to decide whether a baby lives or dies. So we're going to celebrate this little girl without a name. And when the nerves come, if they come, I can always think of that pile of hope with a little bit of sorrow at the foot of my dresser.

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.

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!

laundry

dishes

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)


sweep

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.


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.

Repeat.

Repeat.

Repeat.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

released!



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. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

on fear, discouragement and friends


I've been writing and writing and writing lately. Sorry about the absolute cascade of posts, my brain is in overdrive lately.

Life feels so hard right now. You know how you enter a season where everything piles up and you feel completely snowed under? And then you sift through the mess and it turns out there's not that much going on, you're just not handling any of it well? I feel like that right now.

This pregnancy is really putting me through it. I am in so much pain most days feel endless and I don't sleep much at night so there's little relief there. I'm going to my chiropractor next week (finally!) because when I tell him I feel like my pelvis is breaking in half he'll (fingers crossed) nod wisely and then fix it.

I'm feeling so discouraged and disappointed. I know it's the third trimester blah-de-blahs and the PTSD piling up in my head, all trying to be heard as they jump around in there creating pure chaos and fear, but knowing what the problem is doesn't make it go away.

Yesterday two mamas who have also lost reached out to me - without even knowing I needed it - and I came away from those conversations feeling blessed to have so many who understand holding my hand and encouraging me. I seem to have forgotten that pregnancy comes with ten weeks or so of what feels like absolute madness. As one of my friends reminded me last night I need to take it one day at a time, refuse to let the fear take over, and lean on Jesus and the strength He provides. That's always easier said than done, but it's still a very good reminder.

One of the best gifts Charlotte gave me is the friends I've met since she died. Through telling her story I've built a little community and I am lucky to have so many I can talk to face to face who understand. I value the friends who haven't been there as well, especially as they've held me up and encouraged me through something they don't understand. And of course I appreciate all of you for reading my repetitive words and providing encouragement from afar. When I feel like this I tend to hide and isolate, but I can't do that, there's too much going on, and I think that might be a very good thing. In fact, it may be exactly what I need even though I feel like I don't want it. 

  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

through the lenses


My computer was out of comission for a few days, which means I didn't blog for a bit. I could've used my phone, or J's computer, but I prefer writing from mine. How's that for particular?

I'm in the middle of planning Bennett's second birthday party. I can't believe he's been with us two years. In fact, two years ago tomorrow I was 36 weeks pregnant and in labor and delivery for a night.

I'm trying to hold the perspective I gained from Bennett's birth over the sorrow of Charlotte's. Her birth altered me, but so did his, and as I anticipate a third birth I am using everything I have to hold the lenses created by each experience in place: positive over negative, joy over sorrow, a baby who comes home over a baby who became ashes.

All the little moments that make up my life inform what comes next and how I respond, but my prior birth expereiences are the most powerful number in this equation. I haven't been blogging as much partly because of computer issues, but also because I'm stuck in an endless loop of third trimester worry and excitment. To be honest it's a little boring and emotional around here lately with a lot of random tears and frequent grumpy spells.

Wash the baby laundry. Hyperventilate while folding. Think about how I can give birth again as I've done it twice without medication and can easily choose a little help if needed this time. Panic at the thought of feeling like I did during Bennett's birth.

And on and on and on.

Keeping the lenses aligned and forcing the positive outcome to consistantly hover over the negative is exhausting. Sometimes peering through the dark to the light feels overwhelming. I have to remind myself that Charlotte's life wasn't all dark. Within her story there was life, beauty and joy. And the way Charlotte changed my life is incredible. Within the changes she wrought there is light and I have to seek it out and rely on it to help me see through to that second lens I developed when Bennett was born healthy.

And I have to keep squinting and holding the lenses in place because when they are properly alinged I can see hope and strength. I can see the little one kicking away as I write coming home. I can fold her laundry without fear. I can wonder if we'll ever settle on a name. I can talk about when she is born, not if. I can imagine her here. I can dream. I can believe. I can trust in the faith that has sustained me. I can make it through the upcoming weeks with anticipation and a soul that lifts hope over worry and fear.

Light over dark. Life over death. Hope over fear. It's a precarious balance and my perspective as I peer through the lenses is shaky at best, but there is strength to be found in my children, what they have brought into my life and how they have shaped my heart.

Monday, August 12, 2013

when it's all said and done, just who will you be?


We had the 28 week appointment today followed by an informal hospital tour. We talked about the upcoming ultrasound at 32 weeks to check growth, biophysical profile tests, non-stress tests, pulse ox, and how it's already time to come in every two weeks for appointments. I can't believe I'm far enough along to be thinking about all of this.

I like the quick hospital tours with a nurse (Bennett's pregnancy) or midwife (this pregnancy). I have to know where to go and what to expect, but I don't want to join a group of expectant parents. I don't belong in that group. I'm awkward to have around, especially for first time parents.

And speaking of not belonging ... I'm part of an online group of naturally minded moms where everyone recently shared pictures of their little ones. That tripped me up for a while. I wasn't sure how to share about Charlotte, but I wasn't comfortable leaving her out. Most of the moms know about the loss so it's not like I was sharing new information, but it's still hard to figure out how Charlotte fits in. Eventually I shared a picture of Bennett and mentioned we have two girls as well - one in heaven, one due at the end of October.

Now that thought brings me back to the 28 week appointment wherein I asked about going past 40 weeks. I'm not sure how I feel about the matter. I know a lot of people who do and everything is just fine, but I also know a lot of stories from the other side as well. I don't think I'll feel comfortable going past 40 weeks, but I don't want to be induced either. I went through this same issue with Bennett, but was told going past 40 was not a wise idea. And then I ended up losing my mind and begging to be induced long before 40 weeks came around. Hopefully this one comes early like her siblings and it will be a non-issue.

And that little paragraph brings me back to all of the natural minded moms I know and how strange I feel in their world. I don't feel completely comfortable in the medical world, but there is enough of me planted in the loss world to feel wary and a little panicked by the natural minded world. After Charlotte died trying to find my place in these disparate worlds has been a continual stretching process.

I remember feeling this way at the end of Bennett's pregnancy. Lost. Panicked. Reluctant to read or hear anything about overdue, or not quite due, or laboring mamas. Really uncomfortable in my "natural moms" groups. It's like I hit the third trimester and the "panic about everything" button in my brain gets flipped. I feel alone, but I don't want to spend time with people. I feel like no one understands me or what I'm feeling. Kick counts make me nervous, and realizing I haven't really noticed the baby moving all day sends me into an ice water drinking, sobbing, side lying mess, but when I think of having to get the baby out and all that entails ... oh dear Lord. My mind is constantly flipping between "get the baby out!" and "leave the baby in!" I just want it to be over. I just want to know how it ends.

I'm always going to feel like I can't be wholly myself in any world. I'm way too fragmented from all that has happened to exist perfectly in one place. It's been hard for me to let go of my original thoughts and ideas about birth, but when standing in the hospital room this afternoon I realized this is how it is now. It's not perfect, it's not what I want, but if that hospital and those caregivers get my baby here safely I can let go of what I hoped for when I initially thought about birth.

So here I am. 28 weeks with baby #3. Preparing for the onslaught of appointments that come at the end. Hoping for calm. Praying for peace. Feeling more unsettled than I'd like. Wondering where I'll be, and who I'll be, after this one is born.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

that was a fun one


*Thanks for the comments / thoughts on my last post. Now and then I get hit by the 'what am I doing and why??' monster. And then I'm reminded that writing is something I need. When I feel like I'm not connecting it's because I am lost and disappointed. A lot of my discouragement with writing has to do with my hope to be published, but even if that never happens I need this space to process. Thanks for letting me be real.*

A few nights ago I had a really bad nightmare. It was so vivid and real it scared me. I could not bring myself out of it even though I could feel myself trying to pull away and wake up. In the dream my baby died, but I don't think it was this baby because I was only 12 weeks along and I kept saying, "At least I have this one," and then pointing to my belly.

It was really strange because I knew I was losing a small, early baby (at one point I was sitting in a large pool of water somewhere watching myself bleed, knowing I was losing the baby and there was nothing I could do) but I was giving birth at the same time. It was so strange. And some of the images were direct flashbacks to Charlotte's birth.

When it finally happened she was born into my hands (yes a she, of course). I don't know why I insisted the baby was 12 weeks when it looked more like a 30 week baby, but I was convinced she died at 12 weeks. The baby was born in a round cage made of yarn. She was perfectly formed. Someone else was there briefly, a friend I think, and I mentioned over and over how perfect she was (also reminiscent of Charlotte's birth).

I walked around with the baby. I held her in my hands and went to find a midwife or doctor (but not one I know, I don't know who I was searching for). As I was walking I heard some people ahead of me. I quickly stuffed the baby under my shirt because I didn't want them to see me carrying a dead baby. I climbed a spiral staircase, opened a door at the top and stepped into a room. I reached under my shirt, pulled the baby out and said, "Here she is."

That's where the dream ended.

I was so disturbed by the dream I've tried to forget it, but it won't leave me. If I had any artistic skills at all I could draw a vivid picture of the baby and what she - and the ball made of yarn - looked like.

Dreams are a way for the mind to process and cope with difficult things, right? What are you trying to process / understand brain of mine?

28 weeks - third trimester - tomorrow. The last few weeks of this one are going to be fun (read: sarcasm).

Thursday, August 1, 2013

between here and there


I'm a little bit stuck. I'm in that "Oh hey, I should write something, but I don't have anything to say" head space. I'm grappling with the final weeks of this pregnancy. I'm afraid I've worn out your eyes on this particular subject. The third trimester always puts me in a spin. Wednesday next week I'll be 28 weeks. If this baby comes at 38 weeks (like Charlotte) I have 10 weeks to go. That doesn't feel like very long at all.

At 3 this morning I was half awake when Bennett rushed up the stairs and jumped in next to me. His heart was beating so quickly I could feel it against my arm, his breath escaped in gasps and bursts. I patted his back and talked quietly to him until he calmed, then carried him down the stairs, back to his bed. I can't believe he is old enough to come running when he has night terrors. He didn't even cry, he just came to find us. How did I - mother of worry and panic - help this independent spirit grow? I am clinging tightly to these last few weeks with just the two of us. There is a shifting, even a slight mourning, as I shuffle heart space to make room for what is to shortly come.

Every time I see the due date written at the end of October on the calendar I think about how much time I have, how many things have to come before:

Family reunion: over

30th birthday: almost here

Bennett's 2nd birthday: scheduled

Our last summer trip: happens in two weeks

Cooler weather: it was 65 today! (this one isn't going to last)

The space between here and there is shrinking. I have a few things I would like to buy, but I could bring a little one home tomorrow and be just fine. 90 days until her due date. Ready for the panic?

Monday, July 15, 2013

anomaly


I miss Charlotte. As baby clothes pile up in the crib, as I think about painting the nursery a brighter more gender neutral color, as we struggle with deciding on a name (thought we had it, but now we're not sure) and as time flies by - 15 weeks or less left! - I sense the missing. The baby I "lost." The one who, let's be blunt, died. I always say, "I lost my first," but I didn't lose her. I know just where her divided ashes are, but it seems cruel to link the words baby and died.

I know I've been writing a lot about pregnancy. I think it's possible, maybe even easy, to look at my life: what I write, what I share on instagram and facebook, how we live, and see a current that has kept moving. And it has, but not entirely. There is still a part of me treading water back in 2010. I'm never going to be able to let go of that place in my life where the river split and instead of floating calmly to the conclusion I expected I thrashed and fought to an entirely new and unexpected place.

I miss the happiness of Charlotte's pregnancy. I miss the practical side of my personality that asked for gender neutral things in case we had a boy after Charlotte. Or perhaps it wasn't practicality. Perhaps it was intuition. Now I want girly sheets and seeing the closet and crib fill with pink second hand clothes fills me with delight.

And yet, I still feel disconnected from this pregnancy. It's all so different this time. Different provider. Different type of care. Less handling. Less concern. From all sides, not just the medical front.

There's a part of my mind that wonders if I can only safely deliver boys. Girls are still iffy, questionable and my track record is not good. I have this idea of how the birth may go, but I keep pushing it away because I don't want to get my hopes up or go into it thinking it will be one way only to be disappointed. I'm trying to have the mindset that it's going to be hard, and it will hurt (always thought I might do an epidural with this one - and of course I might - but the thought of that makes me more nervous than the pain of labor) and then it will be over. And then, finally, I'll connect. I'll be able to link the abstract with the actual and understand that what happened with Charlotte was an unusual anomaly.

15 weeks. I'm waiting for the seasons to change. For the hot weather to ebb and the rains to start. Then I'm going to dredge it all up - the anxiety, the panic and the fear - and I am going to dispatch it. Or I am going to succumb to it. Either way this pregnancy will become real to me at some point and I'm going to have to find my way through to the other side.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

the second time


This is my second pregnancy after loss. This is the subsequent, subsequent pregnancy I suppose.

Is it easier?

I'm not sure.

I don't know if I am less anxious or if I simply don't have time to be anxious. I didn't do much of anything during Bennett's pregnancy which led to a lot of sitting and fretting. This time I'm not counting the days or weeks. I lose track of just how far along I am. While going over the calendar with J this evening I said, "Shoot, we're going to have a baby in four months." 

Or less.

 If this little is born at 38 weeks, like Charlotte, it will be around October 16th. I've been preparing myself for a November baby just in case I go past my due date, but this baby could very well be born mid-October.

I don't know if I'm ready.

What I do know, that I didn't last time, is what it's like when the baby lives. What it means to parent and raise a beautiful, sweet and sometimes infuriating child. What it's like to watch a child grow and develop in a very short time.

Bennett has brought so much joy into my life. The other day I needed to rest a spell while we were out walking so I sat down on a park bench and played a game with him where I would try to snap his picture with my phone and he would duck out of the shot at the last minute. I had to do something with him, otherwise he would take off running down the path and my rest time would be over. All of the shots are blurs except one:


I'm going to carry that image with me as I finish this pregnancy and prepare for birth. When I was pregnant with Bennett I didn't know I could feel joy and bliss again. I thought those parts of me had died with Charlotte. I'm going to hold tight to the joy and hope the fear isn't as strong this time. It's not easy. Last night I was talking to friends who have been there, who are there, who understand, and one said, "pregnancy just isn't fun anymore." It's true. Once the world of loss has been split open and explored pregnancy becomes a mysterious event and babies born alive and healthy true miracles.

 I want to believe everything is going to be okay. I'm not tempering my words as much this time (when she is born, not if/when she comes home, not if). I feel like it's all going to be fine. I feel like the birth will be a little easier this time. (I have a lovely idea in my head of how it will be this time, but I'm trying to keep that image to the side because there is so much uncertainty in birth).

I think I'm going to get to raise this girl, and though that certainty brings some sorrow there is hope too. Hope for what comes after, which I have been blessed to learn and know these last 22 months. I can't wait to watch this little one grow and discover her personality.

23 weeks tomorrow - it's flying by.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

22 weeks



I'm soooooooooooooooo tired. I had to crop my face out because I look quite exhausted and worn out. This is mostly my fault because I stayed up until 11:45 last night writing, but I'm placing some blame on the baby's shoulders. I'm back to writing, which always feels good, but I need more hours in the day.

My brain is useless. I missed a dental appointment on Monday because I wrote it down for July 24. I asked a friend to watch B on the 14th of July, a Sunday, so I could go to a prenatal appointment. When she replied that she was out of town that weekend, and was it normal for my doctor's office to do Sunday appointments?? I realized the appointment is on the 12th and J will be home that day so I don't actually need help.

We have a couple trips coming up, all of which require bringing food for B of course. I have three different packing lists going right now. Well, I did, until I lost two of them. I am trying lots of new recipes as we prepare for our trips. One is a family reunion which I have helped plan and since we hope to roast marshmallows I am determined to make ones B can eat.

B is up from his nap and in the space of three minutes he has drawn on the bedspread with ink pen and captured my phone. I shouldn't have put him down for an early nap, but he was tired after a busy morning at the library (pretty sure fire codes were broken this morning. our library needs a bigger (and cooler) room for story time). Now it's 2:00 and I have no idea what we'll do for the next two hours. The weather has been terrible so we've been spending a lot of time inside, but this is Oregon and tomorrow we are expected to transition from 60 and rainy to 85 and boiling. B found another pen. Now I really have to go.

Don't forget to enter to win a fabulous new lullaby album!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

if you want to cry ...


... decide on a whim to search through the baby girl clothes in the attic.



As you pull each item out you'll remember:

your baby shower.

your "last trip before baby comes" to Seattle where you bought the sweetest Gap coat on clearance.

The moment you found the tiny pink sweatshirt with the tiny bird on it that you couldn't wait to dress her in.



How you felt when you bought those sweet summer dresses. How you imagined what she would look like while wearing them on the few truly hot Oregon days.

The feeling you carried - and perhaps still do - that everything you had for her was wrong somehow. That if only you had prepared better she would be here. 

The time you asked your sister how tights on a baby worked. "Do I put the tights on then the diaper?" you asked. Your sister looked at you for a second then said, "Well, I haven't had a girl yet, but I would probably put the tights on after the diaper." And how you laughed so hard you nearly cried, because of course you would put the diaper on first silly, tired, brain fogged pregnant lady.

How you asked your mom and sister to help you set up the nursery, and then your oldest sister and sister-in-law came as well. Everyone wiped down walls, washed, folded and put away tiny baby clothes and then went out for pizza because it was all you wanted to eat.

******

It hurts, it actually physically hurts, like someone is pushing on my heart, to realize a lot of those clothes won't be worn by this new little one. Most of them are not the right season. I am holding out hope for that sweet cream Gap coat. I put so many dreams into it, and I remember burying my face in it and sobbing after Charlotte died.

There are a few outfits tucked away in Charlotte's memory box. I can think of at least one sleeper I would like to use for this new baby, but I'm not sure I will.

I wonder: how does one find the way when preparing to meet a baby the same gender as the one that died? I suppose it's similar to the path one steps out on after losing a baby: it's rocky and dark, and one feels lost most of the time, but somehow one awkwardly and gracelessly manages to navigate the trail.

And I suppose it makes a difference to know what can come after. To have nearly two years of parenting a living child behind me. Maybe having that knowledge makes all of this - pregnancy and birth - easier somehow. I can get through this because I know what is possible now. Birth doesn't always end in a tiny urn above the fireplace with a red velvet bag of ashes. Most of the time - thank the Lord - the newborn clothes are washed and worn, the nursery is prepared and used and the baby you dreamed about lives to create their own dreams.

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