Friday, October 31, 2008
Yesterday I got this new bag. It's a diaper bag, it's filled with ice packs for keeping breast milk cool, a changing pad, a carry all that rolls up all tidy for holding and organizing diaper changing essentials, and some magazines about caring for your newborn. I didn't open when she gave it to me. She handed it to me and said, "Here you go darling, since you're at the beginning of the end of this whole thing." That one is still sitting in my car. Opened, thanks to my daughter who loves a goodie bag, but not brought in to the inner sanctum.
This weekend as we set our clocks back and attend soccer games and swim meets, we will be frantically trying to get our house ready for the potential of a live baby. We put it off as long as we could, waiting to see if the efforts would be futile. I know they still can be. But what if they aren't. What if?
P.S. Please go over and give my beautiful friend C., some extra love and hand holding as she remembers her sweet little boy Callum, lost to all of us one year ago today.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
So much has happened in the last 13 years, much we didn't expect or plan and yet we have walked, at times stumbled or crawled and yes, even allowed ourselves to be carried, as we made our way through it together. We left the city we loved and two good jobs because when you found out we were going to be parents you wanted to move close to my family so our child would know the love I had growing up, you wanted to give your child what you never had. You were already a selfless father, even before you knew your child. You respected my choice to stay home and raise our son, even though it meant camping out at the in laws a wee bit longer than expected, okay a lot longer than expected, before we could join the ranks of the landed gentry and home of the indebted.
You have stood beside me as we welcomed each new child into our lives, two who have brought more joy into our hearts than we ever could have imagined and one whose death has brought more pain than we have ever known. I have seen you look at your newly born children with both the awe and humility that a newborn inspires and the anguish and disbelief that stillbirth bestows. In the last thirteen years, we have celebrated life and we have endured death, together.
Thirteen years ago we vowed to stay together, through the good and the bad, never knowing how much of either we would have. We promised to love one another forever, no matter what the future held. We pledged to each other that from that day forward, we would always be there for one another, not just when it was easy and fun but when the days were dark and the future uncertain. We did not know then exactly what those vows and promises would mean to us. We couldn't envision a life of struggle or days, long days, of grief. Those are not the things you dream of on your wedding day. We dreamed of joy, of success, of children and a home. We dreamed of the things we wanted and never thought the bad the things would come our way.
And in the last thirteen years we have been lucky to have had more of the good than the bad. While it hasn't always come easy, we have managed, together, to always make what we have feel like the best thing there is, for us. We still have dreams left to be fulfilled, we still have hopes that give us something to reach for, and of course, we still have each other.
I know now, more than I ever did thirteen years ago that the future, our future, holds no guarantees. I know it will be laced with good things and I know that bad things will thread their way into our lives. There is no stopping them. But I also know now, that you will be true to your words, that you will stand by me when the rain comes, that you will hold my hand when I feel alone and that you will hold me when I feel empty. I know that you will carry me when I feel I can't go on. I know now that you will tell me I can and I will believe you. I know that while you may not be able to find your keys or your shoes or your wallet, or your long lost wedding ring, you will always find your way home to me, to us.
So today, after thirteen years, I say thank you for all that you have given me and all that we have shared together. I look back and think to myself, so this is marriage. This is the real deal. I hope that this thirteenth year brings us more good than the last two years have. I hope that we have a respite from the struggle and can take a moment or maybe even two, to just recognize all that we do have and enjoy it simply for what it is, without thinking about what it is not.
I am grateful beyond measure for all of it, I would be lying if I said there is nothing I would change, but I can also say that even with the loss of our son I have been able to see things, good things, that I had not known before and never would have known had he not died. I do not believe this gives his death a reason or an explanation or his life a purpose, but I do believe that I can take some meaning, some measure of learning from the tragedy that his death was.
Thirteen years. Here's to the next thirteen times four or five. I still love you more and I will love you always, come rain or come shine.
ETA: I don't know what is up with the cartoon but here's our song....the one I will only ever dance to with you.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Okay so I have to answer these mind blowers with a single word answer and then pass the joy on to 7 others....Here goes:
1. Where is your cell phone? Table
2. Where is your significant other? Freeway
3. Your hair color? Auburn
4. Your mother? Giver
5. Your father? Hilarious
6. Your favorite thing? laughing
7. Your dream last night? Nada
8. Your dream/goal? Peace
9. The room you are in? Boudoir
10. Your hobby? Wine
11. Your fear? loss
12. Where do you want to be in six years? Someplace
13. Where were you last night? Bed
14. What you're not? Settled
15. One of your wish list items? Health
16. Where you grew up? CA
17. The last thing you did? Cook
18. What are you wearing? Jammies
19. Your T.V.? ??
20. Your pet? Catsssssssssss
21. Your computer? Precious
22. Your mood? Hectic
23. Missing someone? Everyday
24. Your car? Dirty
25. Something you're not wearing? shoes
26. Favorite store? Books
27. Your Summer? Unfinished
28. Love someone? Yep
29. Your favorite color? Green
30. When is the last time you laughed? Today
31. Last time you cried? Saturday
Ok, now you know more or less than you did before....Hmmmm 7 people., Let's see, how about Charmer, Rosalind, Kate, Sue, Sarah, Ange and Ya Chun.
Have fun ladies!!!
Saturday, October 18, 2008
I am really angry about it. I haven't seen it yet, as it hasn't aired, but everything I have read so far, shows me a really irresponsible and heavily slanted perspective of what I can only say is a ridiculously naive decision by mothers who think they are doing right by their babies.
The US has a relatively high morbidity rate for childbirth given the 'development' of our nation. Some of this can be attributed to lower income, uneducated, young mothers who don't seek out prenatal care, who are substance abusers or who literally choose to ignore their pregnancy because they just don't know what else to do. In my state, where we have a very high percentage of illegal immigrants, many are afraid to seek out medical care because of deportation. But when their babies are born here, with a 'poor outcome' they become a part of the US birth statistics, good or bad. Another part of the statistic is us. The dead baby moms. We all know that for most of us, ending up here on the wrong side of the numbers, had nothing to do with the medical care we received. Not all of us, but most of us. In fact, as some of us here have managed to get lucky enough to have a subsequent pregnancy, we have invited, if not begged the medical community, for even more intervention in a desperate attempt of avoiding another 'bad outcome'.
What gets me so angry about this show is that it defies all of the medical advances made in bringing babies into the world safely. It encourages simple-mindedness and uninformed decision making. It tells women that the medical community is suspect and has nothing to offer in childbirth that they can't do at home. The women I have seen interviewed so far for this 'show' have said things like "I am the safest one to deliver my child into this world" or "I don't need any prenatal care from a doctor, I can do it at home". And while I am quite aware that in many cases you can get lucky and be right about either of those statements, there are also many cases where that is 100% wrong and the baby is put into far worse jeopardy because of the blind arrogance of the mother.
The irresponsibility of a program like this shakes me to the core. And while it remains to be seen I seriously doubt that they will do justice to all of the 'bad outcomes' that result from the 'free.birth' philosophy. They will not talk about mothers who lost babies because of undiagnosed GD, or other manageable blood disorders, they will not talk about babies lost to IUGR or babies born with undiagnosed congenital defects that could have been treated in utero or at least could have been born where a neonatology team was waiting for the baby. They will not, I am sure, feature any babies STILLBORN, to these 'mothers'. They will feature only successful outcomes, happy babies, happy families beaming proudly at how they 'escaped' the big bad medical community and all of its invasive technology and went and had a healthy baby anyway. They will encourage other mothers to make the same misguided decision. They will, intentionally or not, put other mothers and babies at risk by featuring this "birthing philosophy".
I wish they would produce a program that spoke to the issues of what can go wrong. A program that talks about what life looks like on the other side of the statistics. I wish that someone was brave enough to put our faces on a program to show that pregnancy loss, stillbirth and neonatal death happens to 'normal' people like us. We are not freaks, we are not drug abusers or impoverished, malnourished women living in huts. We walk by you on the street, we smile at you in grocery stores, we drive by you on the highway. We are not mothers who shunned the medical community and then had our babies die. We did everything we could that was available to us and still came home with empty arms and tiny ash filled boxes. I wish when they produced a show like the one I talk about here, they would show the real story, the real consequence of a bad decision like the one these mothers make. I wish they would talk about the real meaning of the numbers behind the statistics and instead of saying "Is this the right way to go in childbirth" they would say "Why this is such a ridiculously dangerous decision..."
I want to watch the show but I am already so jaded by what I have seen I don't know if I will be able to stomach it.
I get that sometimes babies die, I get it. I know we will never ever be able to eliminate entirely that horrible tragedy from this earth. But seriously, do we have to watch while others choose to make it more likely? Seriously?
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Today, the water works stopped short of spilling over and just brimmed the eyes as I begged, much more sophisticated right?
Kind doctor stopped what he was doing, writing his forever noted in my chart, he writes EVERYTHING down, (my friend who referred him to me or me to him however you look at it, said if you told him you found a $10 bill he'd write it down so he could ask you about it at your next appt., I think she's right) and he explained to me why his hands were 'tied' by the hospital as far as due dates and scheduled C-Sections. I guess my hospital has strict guidelines, set by the neonatoligists (we have a renowned Children's Hospital attached to where I deliever) that dictates 39 weeks. My chosen dates put me according to their 'wheel of gestation' at 38 weeks 5 days and 6 days. He told me about the studies on babies born by scheduled C-Sections, which I have read, that indicate a higher percentage of lung issues and NICU stays with babies taken out too soon, i.e. before 39 weeks, especially where there has not been any labor. He also told me he absolutely understands my anxiety and why I would not want to wait any longer than I have to to deliver.
He is going to call the hospital himself, not his scheduling nurse to try and get the date moved based on my history and see if the neonatoligists will waive the guideline. If not he also suggested as an option,, I like options, that at 36 or 37 weeks we can do an amnio and check the leprechauns lungs for development/maturity and if they are ok, then we could deliver even earlier, like right at 38 weeks or sooner, if I choose to.
He's going to let me know. I'm good with that.
So far everything else is still good. I've had my twice a week stress tests and all looks ok with the wee one. Heart rate is steady and reactive, movement is good. The only wrinkle are the contractions I'm having but as of now they don't seem to be to worrisome. I just have to lie down if they start and they usually mellow out. For now anyway.
Thanks for all of the support and words of wisdom, they really do help.
Keep your fingers crossed for the safe arrival of my little leprechaun, we both need it.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Please stop for a moment at 7:00p.m. tonight and remember all of our babies. Gone from our presence but never far from our thoughts and always in our hearts. Light a candle and hope that one day, some day, no one will know the pain and devastation of stillbirth.
I miss you baby Caleb.
Friday, October 10, 2008
So when I spoke of boarding a ship and looking forward I did not mean to imply or insinuate that I would be leaving everything here behind. Instead, what I find happening within me, is that the more I focus on what I lost and what we all lost, the harder it is for me to believe that any other outcome for me is possible. My own child has become a daily reminder of how quickly everything can go so drastically wrong. When I look at his tiny footprint or his small but perfect hand print, where I used to feel sadness and an aching deep within me that choked my throat, now I feel terror and I have to look away. I have come to a place where reminders of my own son actually terrify me. I fight this everyday. I don't want to fear my child. I don't want thoughts of him to cause me panic and dread. I thought it was enough to have to mourn and grieve and long for him. As hard as those feelings are to live with, they were natural, normal. They are a part of the love that I have for him, the part that misses him and who he might have been. They were sad but beautiful. They were pure and I accepted them as part of who I was as a mother to a dead baby.
These new feelings are raw and ugly to me. I don't like them at all. They feel unnatural and they feel like a betrayal, to him, to me, to every db mom out there. They are the feelings of someone who has never known this world we live in, and that is not me. It is the reaction of someone who has never seen a picture of a dead baby and looks away in horror and can not see the beauty that has been stolen from our world, who sees only the dead baby and not the life that was ripped away. I came to know a different view, being in the club. I could stare for hours at a picture of a dead baby and imagine all of the things that child might have known. I didn't see a dead baby, I saw a child, a life, a mothers love and heartache. I saw potential and promise and dreams and I never had to look away out of shock or denial. I never had to shield my eyes from the reality of what I was looking at. I knew their stories, I knew their names and I wanted to know their faces too. For someone who hasn't been here with us, the pictures are often too much for them. They don't want to see the reality of stillbirth. They don't want to know that indeed, those babies are very much, real. They have eyes and ears and mouths and hair. They have tiny perfect hands and feet, they have everything a living baby has, except life. Friends tell me even now, they can't imagine looking at a picture of a dead baby. "It's just too awful to imagine" they say, much less actually look at.
And now I find myself back there. I am afraid to look, afraid to acknowledge these beautiful babies. I don't want to know anymore, I want to pretend that they aren't here, that they don't exist, that they aren't real. Even though I know I am just pretending. Even when it comes to my own child. I want to look forward and say (and actually believe) "Those things almost never happen".
I want to be able to tell this baby, as I wrap my arms around my belly, "You are going to be ok." and instead I say, "Please, hang in there a few more weeks and then we'll get you out." Well meaning friends say to me, "You're good now, the baby is big enough to be ok if it comes out. Stop worrying." But they don't know what I know. They don't know who I know. And so I tell them. It's not all about dates and timing. I tell them about my reality. I tell them about C., and Callum, who at 34 weeks found out that things go wrong, I tell them about Charmer and Paige who found out at 40 weeks, or Christine and Olive Lucy who found out during labor, or Coggy and Jacob who found out at 42 weeks, or Tash and sweet Maddy who found out after delivery, I tell them about all of you, too many to list...I tell them, you can never know, until you know. The rest is all guessing and a hell of a lot of blind faith.
But some days, it is too much for me. I just want to look out beyond the horizon and not look back. I want to find a place where babies don't die and everyone gets a happy ending. But I know, boy do I know, that place only exists in fantasies.
When I speak of leaving, of disappearing from view, I speak of this strange place where I am. A place somewhere in the middle, somewhere along the horizon where I can see both db land and occasionally catch a glimpse of live baby land. And as I float here, I wonder who can really see me anymore. I think for those who have not yet been able to join me (and the others who have manged to get pg), we might seem gone to you, never to return. To those who have already had a baby after, you may see us coming but know full well that you can't say to us, "Don't worry, you'll get here too". Because we all know, we might not. And so we straddle this line, walking, floating, between the two worlds. Waiting to see, will our future take place in both or will we return solely to the one we want to leave, even though we know, we never really do leave.
So please, be patient with me as I try to navigate these unfamiliar waters. I still need the security of those who know where I have been and I desperately need the assurances of those who are where I long to be.
And at some point in the next 5 to 6 weeks, I want to find my way to the place where thoughts of my son don't terrify me to my core.
At some point in the next 5 to 6 weeks, I want to know that I am not failing any of my children, the two that I have here, the one that has gone from me and the one whose future is still unknown.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Gone where? Gone from my sight ... that is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says, "There she goes! there are other eyes watching her coming and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!"*
I have been thinking about these words a lot lately. They speak to me of this unbelievably scary journey I am on. When I first joined this club of ours, I was lost, I was alone and I thought I would never find another who understood all of what I was going through. And then I found you. All of you. And together, we stood on the beach as we watched our own individual ships disappear from sight. I took and take to this day, great comfort in knowing that beside me were others who knew the pain of watching that ship diminish from view. Others who could remember the beauty it once held, the promise it offered, the hope it once danced with on the waves as it made it's journey, a journey that we were never allowed enjoy.
As time has passed we have all taken steps to start to turn our heads away from the horizon. To stop the incessant fixation with the ship that has disappeared from our view. To look to something other than the empty sea for comfort.
For me, I have been walking a path, parallel to the beach, keeping the horizon firmly in sight for the last 33 weeks. Only now it seems that I am on the pier. I can still see and feel and talk to everyone on the beach but I have one foot stepping out onto another ship. To some of my friends here it may seem that 33 weeks ago I put both feet on it and left the port, but I didn't. I held on to all of you and dropped anchor right next to you, firm in my belief that this was where I belonged. That this was where I was safe. Embarking on another journey, pushing off from shore seemed more than I could bear or dare to even dream about.
But now I feel the pull, the need to completely board, to lift my other foot off the pier and let myself go into the unknown vastness of this other journey. The tides are too strong for me to hold her back, to keep her tethered to the pier. She needs to go. It is her time to travel and I am wrong to deny her her destiny. But as I stand on her, I am drawn not to the bow where I can see where she is headed but to the stern where I can look back and draw comfort from those that I have known, who know me and know why I want to stay. At the same time I know most of us have watched as other ships have sailed and wished that we were going with them. We know it isn't an easy ride, the waves come and threaten to destroy us at any moment. And still we long to know what is on the other side. Who is waiting for us there.
I think of Julia and Ashliegh who I know are on the other side. I wonder will I see them. Will I make it to their destination. Can I survive this journey, can we survive this crossing.
I am on the ship now. Destination unknown. I feel the quiet movements inside me of another passenger who begs me to look forward, who pleads with me to believe this ship will survive the passage and will deliver us both into the waiting arms of another group of women who have gone before us.
I look back to the beach and implore with my whole being, please stay there so I know where to go if I fail and then I look out to the vast horizon, desperate to see the tiniest fleck of land, the smallest light that says we are here, keep going, and I feel myself disappearing from view and at the same time not yet visible to anyone waiting on the other side. I can hear you say "There she goes." but I can not yet hear the words I so long for, "Here she comes!"
**A Parable of Immortality, Henry Van Dyke