Thursday, June 26, 2008

On This Day

On the 26th day in the month of June in the year 1997 many wondrous events took place on the planet Earth.
On this day the sun arrived in a welcome flourish of pinks and golds.
On this day in icy rivers salmon spawned luminous eggs destined for distant seas.
And in the town of xxxx CA love swelled in the hearts of and mr.
On this day flowers bloomed in the garden, unfolding fruits in bursts of lively colors.
On this day soft clouds clung together creating mountains across the sky.
A little one was coming.
On this day a nest of ducklings was guarded proudly by a mallard...
and a lioness nuzzled her wet cubs in a warm, secluded den.
On this day at 12:30a.m. Earth paused so that dreams could be delivered.
Cries filled the room while eight lbs thirteen oz were swaddled close for comfort.
On this day a special boy named C was toasted by the man in the moon and an array of brightening stars.*

Happy 11th Birthday to my beautiful boy. I have always been unbelievably grateful to have you in my life, and this year more than ever before, I realize how truly lucky I am that you made it here safely.
May your life be long and filled with love and may you never know any more heartache than what life has already shown you.
All my love to you, forever and for always.

*Andree Dolin

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Call Me Crazy

I was crying before I even entered the room. Having felt the baby move this morning, you would think I would have had some degree of confidence that I wouldn't be told my baby was dead at this ultra sound appointment. But no, I had none. My husband was late so I was alone, again, as I walked into the dark room, the machine already up and running. The tech, same one as always, asked me if I wanted to know the sex of the baby. I started to answer and the tears just overflowed, stopping my speech momentarily. I finally whispered, "Please just tell me if there is a heart beat, that's all I need to know." She hugged me tight and cried with me and just kept saying 'It almost never happens' which as you all know, means very little when you are living in the land of almost never.
It wasn't even a second before she had me on the table and I don't know if I had even fully laid back and she had the wand on me and said, "There, it's alive and the heartbeat is normal." And so for a few moments this morning I was able to feel like a regular pregnant person, almost. I still was afraid to look, even after she said it's okay to look now, we know it's okay. I guess my fear of attachment is still weighing heavy on me. I did take a quick peek but immediately started crying again. My husband did show up, he walked into the room, having been led back by a nurse, an experience he did not enjoy at all given the last time someone walked him back to an ultrasound room it was to see our dead son on a screen, and his first words were "Is there a heartbeat, is it alive?" Not so much a normal pregnant person/couple after all.
So the bottom line today, everything looks 'normal', AFP test came back, 'normal', baby measures 18w 3d, I am 18w 1d, all the organs and limbs seem to be in the right place and working as they should be. We did not find out the sex, although my husband 'thinks' he knows. Time will tell. A lot.
I go back in 4 weeks. When I do, if I am still pregnant, it will be right at the time that Caleb died. 22 weeks. I delivered him at 23 weeks. These next weeks will be trying at best, this I know. Everything I am doing is reminiscent of what I was doing last summer when he died. The kids camp, our family vacation, the unbelievably hot weather, all of it. I feel as though I am stuck in a horrible version of the movie Groundhog Day. I want everything to be different, to have a different ending and yet here I am, doing everything the same. Do I dare take the same vacation, go to the same places where I was when I now know the last time I was there I was walking around with my dead son in my belly? How fucked up would that be? Isn't that the definition of insane? Repeating the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? If that is true, than I guess just trying to have another baby makes us all crazy insane right? Aren't we all doing the same thing and expecting a different result?
I want a different result, I want to expect a different result. I am not quite there yet, where I can expect it, maybe I will never be. So for now, I guess, you can just call me crazy.

Monday, June 23, 2008

I just know this one's gonna make it

I wish it was me who repeated that phrase everyday. Touching my belly, laying a small hand quietly over the growing mound and looking upwards and with a whisper of hope and a hint of desperation slowly saying the words, "I just know this one's gonna make it." But is isn't. These are the words of my 6 year year old daughter. It is her daily ritual. More than daily really. She does it whenever she is near me. I can be having a conversation with friends, laying on the couch, talking with my husband, it doesn't matter really where or when, she will walk up and place her hand on me and out it comes, her mantra. She looks into my eyes as she says it and I know she is seeking reassurance from me, waiting for me to tell her, "Yes, you're right, this one is gonna make it." but I can't. I just take her hand, give it a squeeze and tell her, "I sure hope so, Nut, I sure hope so."
I remember the last time I heard those words, last summer. My husband and I had just come out of my 20 week ultrasound with Caleb. We walked out of the doctors office and he took my hand and told me, "Well, now it really feels real. I had held off believing it was going to happen until I saw the ultrasound. Now I feel like this one's gonna make it." He had held off because of the sting of the last miscarriage and the nightmare double D & C' s and hospital stay we'd had only a few months before. But after watching what appeared to be our healthy child bouncing around on the screen and once again letting me convince him not to find out the sex, he felt reassured that we were in the safe zone. That we had survived the challenge of loss and that we would finally get our baby. He asked me for a few of the ultrasound pictures so he could take them to work to show his colleagues and display them on his desk and then he took me to breakfast. I remember sitting at breakfast, still feeling uncomfortable about the outcome, still not believing that everything would be ok. I remember trying to convince myself that I was just being paranoid because of what had happened. I remember thinking about how much the baby was moving during the ultrasound and how I couldn't feel it and telling myself stop worrying when you don't feel movement, it's just not big enough yet to feel every little kick and roll. I remember ordering my eggs over easy (bad pregnant mom, bad girl, I know) that morning and thinking to myself as I mentally stuck out my tongue, take that charma, bleh.
And it was those same mental gymnastics I used in the following weeks when I thought I had stopped feeling the baby move. I could still feel the baby but not the kicks like before. We went on vacation and I poked and prodded and tried like mad to make the baby just give me one good kick. Nothing. My stomach would tighten and then I would feel the whole baby, pressed against my belly and I called my husband over to feel how you could cup your hand around the baby and wasn't it amazing? He started thinking of names, more "C" names to go with our other two. Keep planning, keep hoping, don't listen to that other voice, I kept telling my self each day as I urged the baby to kick like it had before. We got home and I talked to my sister in law, due days apart from me, she was having the same doubts. She had actually called her OB and they had brushed her off telling her at 20-23 weeks the baby can turn and you may not feel anything because it is still so small. You have to wait until it is bigger before you will feel the kicks with any regularity. I tried to listen to that, to take comfort in that. She didn't go in and get checked, why should I? I was just being paranoid, a worry wart, nothing more.
My OB called later that week and told me that they wanted a second ultra sound. Nothing was wrong she told me at least 5 or 6 times, they just didn't have a good picture of some of the organs because the baby was moving so much during the last ultra sound. Nothing is wrong. Nothing is wrong. I wanted to tell her about my fears but my son was in the car(where I was when she called) and I figured they would see if anything was wrong when I came in so why worry him. Nothing is wrong.
When I did go in for that ultrasound, something was wrong. very wrong. It was over. He was gone. My every fear had come true, my worst nightmare had become my reality. I lay on the examining table, belly exposed, lights dim, air conditioner whirring, my eyes focused on the vent in the ceiling, hand covering my mouth as I sobbed. The ultra sound machine, silent. Still. Birth.

Tomorrow, we, the husband and I, go in for my 18 week ultra sound. In a perfect world, we would be excited, giddy with anticipation, anxious to see our baby and have a moment to bond with this little creature. When I was pregnant with my daughter, we took our son with us to the ultra sound so he could see the baby while it was in mommy's tummy. But I don't live in a perfect world, never did really. But the one I used to live in didn't have dead babies in it, at least not dead babies that happened to me...or anyone I knew. Or so I thought.
My world now is filled with dead babies. Mine and those of so many others, countless others. Ultra sounds to me are not times of joy and excitement. They are times filled with dread and anxiety. I get physically ill walking into the ultra sound room. Hell, I get physically ill thinking about walking into the ultrasound room. My husband is coming with me not out of excitement but so I won't be alone, just in case, you know, just in case. I wouldn't dream of bringing my kids with us to the ultrasound, not even to the waiting room. I want them far away, some place safe and warm, where they are protected from all things bad. Just in case.
And even if everything looks ok tomorrow, I know I will take no comfort in it. I know it is just ok for that moment. That things will happen, things can happen and an ultrasound can't tell me when or if. All it can tell me is if my baby is still alive in that instant. And hopefully that everything is where it should be, healthy. Alive and healthy. Is that so much to ask? Maybe.
But oh, how I wouldn't love to be able to say those words, just once and really mean it, really know it, really believe it to be true, how I wish it was me who was saying, "I just know this one's gonna make it."

Monday, June 16, 2008

5ths update

So after freaking out for a few days (read staying up all night believing my baby is dead...again)and worrying myself into a tizzy thus creating imagined symptoms of the 5ths disease origin, I suddenly remembered this morning that I had had the full battery of blood work done on me after Caleb died. I called that doctors office this morning and left what I am sure is a rambling message begging someone to call me back and tell me if I had been tested for Parvo (the human kind not the doggy kind0 which is the 5ths test.
Of course each minute that passed by today has seemed like an eternity and so this afternoon I called back and begged the receptionist, (read played the dead baby card, hard) to please let me talk to someone who could answer my questions. She obliged, eventho I wasn't crying, shocker, and a really nice guy got on the phone with me and started reading over all of my blood work to me. After nicely commenting on the unbelievable number of blood tests done on me, he found the Parvo one, read it to me, but couldn't translate it for me. Figures. I had him fax it over to my new OB and then I consulted Dr. with what info I had. (Thanks to Reese for telling me what to look for). I called my new OB's office and told them that the fax was coming and to please have my doctor call me asap to translate. He called within 10 minutes.
Long story short, I AM IMMUNE!!!!!!!!! My blood work indicates I had already been infected before I was even pg with Caleb and once you have it, you are considered immune for life!! YIPPEE for ME!
Thank you so much to everyone for all of your words of support and indignation. I puffy heart all of you and again, have no idea what I would do without my dead baby mama's. Now I can get back to my regularly scheduled neurosis and constant fear. Who knew that that would be a place of relief????

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Stillbirth the Gift that keeps on Giving...

Conversation between "innocent"(i.e. a non dead baby club member) mother and her daughter:

Mom to young daughter: Have you noticed anything different about me lately?

Daughter to Mom, smiling, "Yes!"

Mom: "What did you notice?"

Daughter to Mom, "Your tummy is getting big!"

Mom to daughter: "Why do you think that is?"

Daughter to Mom: "Cuz you have a baby in there!!"

Mom to daughter: "You're right!! Isn't it exciting!"

Daughter to Mom: "Ohhh I hope it's a girl, oh can we pick out names, can we make a
baby room?!"

Mom to daughter; "Of course we can, let's go get started right now, 4 and a half months
will go by so quickly, the baby will be here before we know it!"

Mom and daughter clasp hands and skip off into the sunset.

Conversation between deadbaby mom and young daughter:

Mom to daughter: "Have you noticed anything different about me lately?"

Daughter to Mom, smiling: "Yes!"

Mom to daughter: "What did you notice?"

Daughter to Mom: "Your tummy is getting big!"

Mom to daughter: "Why do you think that is?"

Daughter to Mom: "Cuz you have a baby in there!!"

Mom to daughter: "That's right, there is a baby in there."

Daughter to Mom, holding both her hands up motioning with her fingers," Let's cross all
of our fingers that this one doesn't die"

Daughter runs upstairs and out of sight. Mom dissolves into tears, standing alone in her kitchen, cursing the God she professes not to believe in, for not only taking her son, but for stealing her children's innocence, right along with him.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Because nothing is ever easy...

So to add more stress to my already over worked mental state, my good girlfriend dropped by this afternoon to let me know that her daughter does not have an allergy to strawberries as we had suspected the past few days. Nope, the rash we observed on her little body, the one I am around all of the time, is a result of 5ths disease. yep, lucky me, I have been exposed....fuck.

I talked to my doctor who thinks, 1) I am 16 weeks and so far no symptoms, so that's good. 2) Really nothing I can do unless I develop symptoms 3) I am due for my next ultrasound in two weeks, we will check baby then, 4) If I develop symptoms, then get the blood work to confirm diagnosis and then the only 'treatment' would be monthly ultrasounds to check for hydra-something or other (what a good patient I am, I can't even remember what it is I should be worried about).

So now in addition to my everyday worry about the obvious, I get to sprinkle this on top. I know this isn't a "pg" board and I hate to go on and on here about this but you are my support group. Any advice or anti-worry words about this whole thing you can send my way would be very much appreciated by me and my aching heart.

I just keep going back to that one conversation I had with my husband so many moons ago, "Let's go for a third!" we said and I thought to myself how great it would be to add another baby to our lives. What I didn't know, of course, was that our third child would never join our lives, he would be born still. And now as we try, again, to add another life to our world, it has become painfully obvious that nothing, will ever be easy, again.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Me...part 2

Okay, as if the underwear and bubblegum weren't enough to make you never want to ask me anything personal again, Amy, has tagged me to meme again.

So here goes:

1. What were you doing 10 years ago? I was married, living at my parents house, on a 'temporary' basis having relocated while 7 months pregnant the year before. We were getting ready to celebrate our sons 1st birthday. Does my idea of 'temporary' sound eerily permanent? The Ewing's move to West Fork lasted nearly 4, yes, four, years. But that's another post.

2. What 5 things are on your to do list today? 1. Go to awards ceremony for son at school. 2. Go to friends house to help download pictures off her computer so I can do my #3. 3. Make video montage for daughters kindergarten class to celebrate the big finish. 4. Try and work in yard to avoid being labeled the "Clampets" by neighbors and caring family. 5. Buy groceries.

3.List snacks you enjoy. Chips and salsa,'s, wine and cheese (when not pg of course, which, in my case means I have only been able to indulge this every couple of months on and off for the last almost three years and yet, still no baby to show for it)

4. What would you do with a billion dollars. Pay things off for me and my family, start an organization that works with kids to keep them in school and off the streets and creates safe homes for those who don't have them. Pay to have every stray animal spayed or neutered so they will stop having babies in my garage. BTW, anyone want a free kitten???

5. List places you have lived. Short list, Northern and Southern CA.

6. List jobs you have had. Sandwich maker at a deli, Wedding Dress sales assoc., Client Service Consultant (read sales) at Nutr.i Syst.em, sales clerk at a stationery store, intern at homeless coordinators in SF, law clerk at the public defenders office, and best of all a MOM.

7. List names of people you want to know more about. Okay, STE, Brooke, and Which Box, give us the goods!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Breakfast of Champions....

It has happened. The tiny flutters. At first I thought, no, it is just my imagination, but as it has become more frequent and more familiar I have had to admit it to myself, yes, I can feel this baby moving.
Before now, I had only referred to this pregnancy as "it", doing everything I could to remain detached and removed, just in case. Now, it seems cruel to deny this little one's existence, to hold off loving this maybe baby just to spare myself. What if I actually make it out of this pregnancy with a baby and I have trained myself not to love this baby or if the fear of him or her dying becomes so great that it spills over into his or her entire lifetime, so that I can never really attach myself to my own child?? I can't let that happen. I have to let myself love this baby.

Whoever said that deciding to become a mother is being brave enough to let your heart go walking around outside your body, only knew a part of the story, the part where it's all happy endings and fairy tales. After losing a child, deciding to become a mother again means not only being brave enough to let your heart go walking around outside your body, but also being brave enough to risk your heart being shattered into a million tiny pieces, everyday. It feels as though everyday I have to take my heart, lay it in the middle of the highway at rush hour and stand on the side of the road watching it, helplessly, hoping like hell no one runs it over.

And so now, each morning as I lay on my side and feel the small, gentle rolling motions of this tiny creature, I think to myself, please, please, please baby, please don't die.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

A bed of roses

And I say to my good friend C., "Yes, I will accept this rose...." To see the whole story of this beautiful Pink Rose Award, look here but in brief, it is an award given to those who inspire you and/or who may be in need of some inspiration.
Everyday as I make the leap into blog land, hoping to disappear into the place where I feel most at home, surrounded by women who truly 'get' me and whose blogs remind me that I am not alone as I try to find my way, I am amazed and comforted by every single word that I read. I can not imagine what my life would be like had I not stumbled across this place we have all come to know as "dead baby land". That name alone speaks volumes to the uniqueness of our self created universe. Where else, I ask you, can we name drop the dead baby bomb and not be looked at or verbally bashed for our 'callous' use of the term?
You all get why we use it, why we say it, why it feels good to say it, why it even offers relief to us. You get the joke. No one else who hasn't worn our 'shoes' will really understand why it works for us. And certainly they would never be able to stand in front of us and hear us say the unspeakable words, "DEAD BABY" without noticeably cringing as though we had all just run our fingernails across a mile long chalkboard.
You ladies are my happy hour. You are where I go when I need release, when I am physically exhausted from the mental gymnastics of being(acting) 'normal' in my everyday life. It takes oodles of energy to censor myself all day long. And even though as time has passed I try more and more to talk about Caleb and his death, it still is a subject I save for the friends and family I know will actually listen and not just give me the courtesy nod and smile. I won't dare share him or his story with anyone who will not show him the respect he deserves. One of the things I have found the hardest in this walk of grief that I am on is the fact that everyday I am always thinking about him, the loss, the absence, the what ifs and yet I probably talk about it, out loud, IRL, at best maybe once a day, maybe. Without dead baby land, the place where I can let all of the thoughts out, let the feelings go and read others words that share my own inner dialogues, I think I might very well have ended up in a rubber room, sitting in a corner, arms encircling my bent knees, rocking back and forth, talking to myself.
So I say to all of you, thank you for saving my life. Thank you for being so brave to put your feelings and heart break into words for me and others to see and share. Thank you to all of you have left words of support and encouragement on my blog, even if I haven't yet found my way to you. I will, I promise.
And so, yes C., I accept this rose as you have inspired me right from the start of my walk here and I continue to be inspired by you and your words. I will also gladly pass this rose on to everyone who has stopped by here and made yourself known to me. In particular I would like to pass it on to my sweet Aunt Becky, you all know how much I heart her and she has had her own world of let downs and loss in the past 2 months and still manages to find some humor through the hurt.
I am also going to pass this on to a woman whose blog I have been shadowing and whose strength and courage have absolutely knocked me on my a**. She is a new mom to her second baby and while pregnant with him was diagnosed with a nasty cancer which despite a literal gut cleaning by her doctors has reoccurred. She is now fighting for her life and for her children to have their mommy. She is Emilie over at lemmondrops and I am profoundly inspired by her bravery, her attitude and her absolute devotion to her children. I hope everyone who reads this will stop by her place and give her as much support as you can muster. She is one hell of a woman.
I also happily bestow a rose on all of you, because the rules say I can:) See below to play along.
Now it's your turn. Here's what to do:
1. On your blog, copy and paste the award, these rules, a link back to the person who selected you, and a link to this post. You will find the story behind the Pink Rose Award and other graphics to choose from there.
2. Select as many award recipients as you would like, link to their blogs (if they have one), and explain why you have chosen them.
3. Let them know that you have selected them for an award by commenting on one of their posts.
4. If you are selected, pass it on by giving the Pink Rose Award to others.
5. If you find that someone you want to nominate has already been selected by someone else, you can still honor them by posting a comment on their award post stating your reasons for wishing to grant them the award.
6. You do not have to wait until someone nominates you to nominate someone else.
Alrighty ladies, let's make it rain roses around here!!