Saturday, September 24, 2011

My baby has a Grandma

I'm not talking about Finn. For the record, Finn has two wonderful Grandmas that are a big part of his life. He gets to see them often - he knows them, trusts them, has fun with them and loves them to death. And they are so in love with him. I should write more posts about them (or just more posts in general....). But they are exactly what grandmas should be and I am so happy he has them both in his life.

But this post is not about Finn and his Grandmas. I'm talking about my other baby. My baby who didn't make it.

When I was pregnant the first time, G$ and I did not want to find out the sex. I really wanted that ultimate surprise, what I imagined would be a moment like no other in my life. After nine long months of pregnancy and hours and hours of labor and pushing to finally give birth to your baby and have the doctor say "It's a....!" before placing him or her on your chest and you meet face to face for the first amazing that must be. So we told people over and over that no, we were NOT going to find out the sex of the baby (apparently that is just not done very often anymore), we planned on painting the baby's room blue no matter what (yes, I think girls can have a blue room), we expected to get tons of yellow and green clothes, and we worked on picking out two names. I can't even remember the boys names that we discussed but I know there wasn't a frontrunner. But we both had a girl's name we really liked. Naomi. That was G$'s beloved grandmother's middle name. We hadn't officially decided since I was only 5 months pregnant, but I know its what we would have gone with.

After we lost her, we did not name her. At the time, it just didn't feel necessary to either of us. Maybe it was too soon, too painful. Maybe I just didn't know that it was an option. A loss at 5 months is a weird thing. Not a miscarriage, not a stillbirth. I don't know. Even to this day, when I think about her, I mostly think of her as simply "my baby." But a year or so after we lost her, I felt the need to acknowledge her with a name. I just started to feel like she deserved a name. She never got to be a living baby or a real person, but she was a little life who mattered so much to me and to my husband. She was worthy of a name. Naomi. Its not on a birth certificate or a headstone. In fact, until the last few weeks, I don't think I even told another person besides my husband. But I knew. And I'd like to think that she knew.

A couple of months ago, a friend's daughter had a baby and they named her Naomi. This person is a very close family friend - one of my parents best friends. The "celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas together" type of friend. He has two daughters, one of whom is a very dear friend of mine. I am not particularly close to the daughter who had the baby, but I still felt so happy that a baby who will be in the lives of people who are like family to me will have this beautiful name. A living, healthy baby is named Naomi and people I love will know her and love her. They will hold her and hug her and watch her grow and get to do all the things over the years that I will not get to do with my Naomi. And that makes me happy. I don't know if saying that it also feels bittersweet is quite right because I don't really feel bitter about it at all. But it makes me happy and want to cry at the same time.

So our family friend went to visit his daughter and the baby a couple of weeks ago (she lives out of state). I sent him with a gift for the baby and a card for his daughter saying basically what I said above. I think telling her about my baby was important for me - another small way of acknowledging her life and small impact on the world. The thank you card she sent back really affected me and actually changed the way I think about my baby. But timeout for a little backstory.

Her mom Kathie (who was my mom's best friend) passed away 7 or 8 years ago. She fought a long and tough battle with breast cancer. She was one great lady - a real character. I have a tattoo of a pink ribbon with her initials on my left breast in the spot where her tumor was. Her daughter (my friend, not the one who has Naomi) and two other friends have the same tattoo. I have watched my friend struggle with the loss of her mother over the years and I just can't imagine what it feels like. And like I said earlier, I am not very close to her sister, but I imagine that not having your mother as you become one yourself is incredibly hard.

So back to the thank you note. She wrote: "Thank you for sharing with me about Naomi. One thing I do know (or believe) is that my mom is loving on your Naomi. I am sure they are together all the time." I read this and just cried and cried. For one thing, it is huge that someone else called my baby by her name. Someone knows her name and a bit of her story and acknowledged her. And that means so much to me. But more importantly, I love the thought of my baby and Kathie together somewhere. I'm not a religious person, but I still believe in the idea of a "heaven" or something like it or SOMETHING. The soul or the spirit or the essence or whatever you want to call it of my baby is SOMEWHERE. I believe this. And it gives me comfort I have never felt to imagine my baby with someone I knew and loved. I have this picture in my head of Kathie holding my baby and it just fills my heart with so much emotion. My baby has someone to be her grandma and Kathie has my baby to love on. What a gift this person gave me - two lines in a thank you card that brought me so much joy. And another step forward in my grief. I'm not a good enough writer to properly put it into words, but it has really shifted the way I think about my baby. It makes me smile. And that does not happen very often when I think about her.

Its been over four years since I lost her. And in those four years I have mostly focused on the pain and sadness of losing her. Which I think is understandable because it was such a traumatic experience. And the sadness and pain are not gone. I don't think they ever will completely go away. But now for the first time, when I think about her, I can honestly smile and picture her a in a beautiful place. And that brings me so much comfort. Grief is such a complicated journey. But for this moment at least, I have found some more peace.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

My name is Leah Wilson and I am not trying to get pregnant.

So why am I writing today after months and months of NOT writing? I've actually been thinking about writing for the last couple of weeks - feeling like I had some things to work out (that's pretty much the only time I feel like writing). You see, my son turned one in December and I have been thinking about the whole trying again thing. And then when I logged on to catch up on my blog-reading this morning, I quickly scanned through the titles and saw that several of the ladies are pregnant or maybe pregnant or thinking about trying to get pregnant again. I guess when your baby turns one you start thinking about having another? Is it because the kid has been sleeping better and you are starting to feel like a normal human again? Or maybe its because everyone starts asking "when are you having another?" And while the rest of this post is mostly about how happy I am and how blessed I feel, please allow me a moment of bitterness - if one more person tells me that they are sure that this time it will be easy because "now my body knows how to do it," I swear to God, I will punch them in the face. I'm not a doctor, but I'm pretty sure that's not how it works. There. I feel better.

I have always imagined myself with more than one child. For most of my adult life, I pictured myself with a house full of kids. Than after the losses and the fertility issues, I resigned myself to two. But now I am not so sure. I know I WANT another child. I want that for myself, for my husband. I want my son to have a sibling. And ever since he was born, I was of the mindset that after he turned one, we would go back to fertility treatments and try again. I would get pregnant within the year and boom - we would have another baby before I turned 40 (you would think that I would have learned my lesson about making plans and timetables and all that, but some habits are hard to break ya know?).

But here's the thing. I am very, very happy. I feel better and more complete and more content than I have felt in years, maybe my whole life. Having my son, being his mother, watching him grow, parenting with my husband - these things bring me so much joy. I think I would be okay if he was my only child. In fact, I would be much more than okay. Its not what I PLANNED, but so much of the last few years are not what I PLANNED. I never PLANNED on losing my baby. Or having a miscarriage. Or having trouble getting pregnant. Or having a c-section. Or having chronic pelvic and abdominal pain (which is a whole 'nother post entirely). So maybe the whole "having another child" part of the plan will not happen either. Could I live with that?

I admit, around the one year mark, I started going down the planning road again. I completely weaned my son (BECAUSE I WAS READY) so I would get my period back and my cycles going (I never had a period while I breastfed - but a week after he was weaned Auntie Flow came rearing back with a vengeance. Oh and my big boobs literally disappeared overnight and I am left with what a friend of mine calls "Flapjack Titties." Boo.). I started thinking about the timeframe (we'd start trying in March or April because I've gotten pregnant twice in April so of course it would happen again right? Duh.). I called fertility doctors and centers to find out some cost information (I have different insurance now so we would need new doctors - oh and we have NO fertility coverage anymore). I made a budget and started working a temporary part time job to try to save some money.

But then I started to feel like, oh we go again. The "trying to have a baby" train - schedules and planning, worrying about timetables and money, thinking about injections and bloating and hormones and mood swings and lots of doctors visits with a toddler in tow and the waiting and the potential (inevitable) disappointment or, God forbid, losing again. I know I don't have to say this but, for some us, trying to pregnant is awfully hard on your heart and your body. Not to mention your bank account. And I will admit, the money is a big issue for me. It would all be out of pocket for us. We had 50% coverage at Kaiser before. And two incomes. So our three IUI's were totally financially doable. But now we have no coverage, one income and even older eggs. Multiple IUI's, IVF? We could blow through our savings. Money we might need for me to stay at home with my son for another couple of years. Money we definitely want to use someday to put down on another house (since we can't sell ours - we are SO underwater) so that our son can go to a better school. If the fertility treatments cost us nothing, I honestly think we would try. I think I could probably deal with the other stuff. I've done it before. But I don't think I want to spend all our money trying to have another baby when I need some of that money for the child who is here now. Before I had Finn, I would have spent my last penny trying to have a a baby. And I don't think I need to say that all the stress, heartache, waiting, injections, bloating, etc, etc feels MORE than worth it now that we have our son. I was willing to do almost ANYTHING to have a baby. But I feel different now that he is in my life. I feel content. I feel at happy and at peace. I am so very blessed. Do I want to do it all again? Do I NEED to do it all again?

So anyway....a couple of weeks ago, I was sitting on the couch on a rainy afternoon while my son was napping, thinking about all of this when it just occurred to me that.....I would be okay if my son was my only child. The thought sort of just came to me. I thought - "You are so happy right now. Finn makes you so happy. Things are good. You don't HAVE to try again. You would be OKAY if Finn was your only child" And this was a big shift for me. I had never, NOT ONCE, thought, believed or imagined that I would only have one living child. And once that thought was out there, it felt okay. I didn't say anything about this to anyone for over a week. Not even my husband. I just wanted to see how I felt about it after a few days. How that thought made me feel when I thought it again. And it continued to feel okay. When I talked to my husband about it, he was pretty much on the same page as me (have I mentioned how wonderful my husband is? Well, he is WONDERFUL.). He has many of the same reservations and concerns about doing fertility treatments again. We talked about possibly just trying the old-fashioned way.....knowing of course that this most likely means that we will not get pregnant again (I'm not gonna lie, he also mentioned perhaps just having lots of sex for the fun of it for a little while). We talked about adoption. We talked about how much we love our wonderful little son and how life would not be horrible if it was just three of us. It was a good talk.

So I think at this point we are not jumping back on the train. And I feel good about this.

But I will admit that when I saw the blog posts about some of the ladies being pregnant, it made me a little sad.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Sometimes Life Is Not Fair

I am having a hard couple of days. Yesterday I found out that my friend's sister is going through almost the same thing I went through with our first pregnancy. Our first baby. To make a long story short, they got an incompatible with life diagnosis at 18 weeks. She had a D&E.

This girl is someone I have known since high school, but not someone I would call a good friend. We were, however, kindred spirits in recent years. She had a really hard time getting pregnant. A really, really hard time. Much harder than me. So even though we were not close, we understood a part of each other's lives in a way that even my closest friends could not. And I am just so sad for her. Because I know how she feels. And I know what's in store for her. And it fucking sucks. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. And she has tried SO hard to get pregnant. And it FINALLY worked. And she made it safely out of the first trimester. And then this happens. Its just not fair. And it fucking sucks.

As soon as I found out, a lot of the feelings came flooding back. I've been crying and tearing up for two days. Pictures from three years ago come into my head and then I picture this girl going through it now and it makes me so sad. Pictures like sitting on the couch not knowing what to do. Just having no idea what to do now. Or laying in bed, trying to sleep and then the tears come again and they turn into uncontrollable sobs and you just cry and cry and cry into your husband's chest. Or thinking to yourself - is this real? Is this really happening? No, this cannot be happening. I remember these things and then I imagine that 15 miles from here, someone I know is feeling that pain and confusion and heart break and my heart aches for her.

While I was on the phone with my friend as he was telling me about his sister, Finn stopped playing and just looked at me. He does that a lot. He likes to listen to people talking. But he was looking at me so intently, with a serious expression on his face, like was really listening and understanding. And I looked at him as I was hearing this horrible news and remembering my own loss and I thought - thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you for this beautiful baby who brought me out of the darkness and helped to heal my heart. And then he smiled a big smile at me. When I got off the phone, I picked him and hugged him very tightly. Which he does not always like, especially when he's playing. But this time, he let me.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Dark Times

I just read a post from a new mom who is beyond tired, breastfeeding nonstop which makes for extra sore nipples, and dealing with a baby that seems to be getting increasingly fussy and hard to put to sleep. Sounds VERY familiar to me. That's where I was a few short months ago. Brings me right back. I could have written that exact post when my son was three weeks old.

Two things struck me as I read her post. Number one, I am SO thankful that we are out of the "dark times." My brutally honest friend coined this phrase after she had her daughter. She is the friend who will always tell you like it is. And boy she held nothing back about motherhood. She talked about pooping during pushing, how bad it hurt to poop the first time after giving birth, how coo-coo crazy she felt from sleep-deprivation, how once she let her baby just scream in her crib for an hour when she couldn't take it anymore, how she had to take a vicodin and drink a half a bottle of wine before she and her husband had their first post-baby sex....all those beautiful stories that back then made me think to myself "I am NOT ready to be a mom." I think it helped prepare me for the dark times. I mean, no one can REALLY be ready for the dark times. Even though someone may have told you all about it you don't really understand how dark it is until you are experiencing it yourself. But I'm glad she told me so I had SOME idea of the suckiness I was in for.

The other thing that struck me as I read this blogger's post was, how come we don't hear more about the "dark times?" Why aren't we more prepared for them? Shouldn't we be more honest with each other? Shouldn't we let people know how hard it is? Are we afraid of sounding ungrateful? Whiny? Wimpy? Like we don't know what we're doing?

The first few months of motherhood were wonderful and amazing and BLAH BLAH BLAH. Of COURSE its wonderful to have a new baby and of COURSE I felt incredibly grateful after all the shit we went through to get here. I would look at my teeny tiny and baby and just smile and feel the deepest sense of happiness I have ever felt. He would yawn in a cute way and I would cry. I took 250 pictures of him a day because he was so friggin cute and I wanted to remember him that small forever. I feel a love for my son that I have never known. Not even close. I love, love, LOVE being a mom. And all the wonderfulness makes the suckiness worth it in the end.

But, let's be honest. There are things about the first few months that fucking SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK. That are unbelievably hard. I now believe that sleep-deprivation is torture. Being that tired is awful. I did not sleep for longer than 3 hours for 3 months. And getting 3 hours was a damn treat. Usually it was in 2 hour increments. I still rarely get more than 3 hours in a row. And breastfeeding does NOT just come naturally to everyone. My nipples hurt so bad I would cry out in pain or quietly cry during an entire feeding so I didn't scare the baby. My nipples didn't stop hurting for over two months. They STILL hurt sometimes. And the crying. Oh sweet Lord, the crying. The crying that is so loud and so shrill and right in your ear and never seems to end? The crying that makes you think to yourself for a second- seriously, I wanted a baby? Or maybe you can't even think because you are in a catatonic state so that you can survive the endless crying. Or maybe the baby is actually asleep but you still hear the crying ringing in your ears? And the not knowing what you're doing. Wondering if your milk supply is good enough. Wondering if the baby is crying because something serious is wrong with him. Wondering why their poop is that color. Wondering if they are still breathing. The endless wondering and not really knowing and googling....

I suppose there are people who find breastfeeding relatively easy, who have babies who "sleep through the night" at 6 weeks, who get back to having sex and it feels GREAT, who take showers and put on makeup every day....I kind of hate those people. But I think that in reality most people go through the "dark times." And I think its okay to talk about them. We SHOULD talk about them. To be honest about how hard it is. Not because complaining is a wonderful thing, but because when things are that sucky and hard you have to be able to talk about to to get through it. Its nice to feel like you are not alone, you are not a moron, you are not crazy and your baby is not some devil-incarnate but actually quite normal.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Chapter Ends

One of my favorite bloggers is ending her blog. I'm sure it wasn't the very FIRST babylost/infertility blog I ever read, but it was the first one that really meant something to me. Its the first blog I ever commented on. In fact, I signed up for this blog just so I could comment on hers. As soon as I read one of her posts, I had to read them all. She was friggin awesome - funny, smart, irreverant, brutally honest, a little twisted. She used lots of profanity and made up witty phrases. She didn't find the answers for her losses in religion or "everything happens for a reason." She wasn't overly sappy or boo-hoo, poor me. When I read her blog, I laughed, I cried, I related. I'm not sure why I'm using the past tense, she hasn't died or anything. She just has a new baby. And I guess that when she was pregnant she promised herself and her husband that when the baby was born, she would end her blog. And this is a huge thing to me. Because I found her blog when I was at the lowest point in my life and reading about her struggles helped me with my own. And now that I am in an incredibly happy point in my life, now that I'm finally the mother of a real, live baby, she is moving on because SHE is in that same wonderful place.

I don't exactly remember how I stumbled upon the infertility/babylost blogs...oh wait, yes I do. I was about to start my first round of injections and was nervous about it so I googled something related to how to do it or how it feels or possible side effects or something like that. And eventually my surfing brought me to the Creme de la Creme list on Stirrup Queens. And I just started reading. And reading. And reading. I read for HOURS. And I found this world of people who were going through the same thing I was. People who had trouble getting pregnant. People who lost babies. Even a couple of people who had anencephaly babies. These women were writing about so much of what I had been thinking and feeling and experiencing. After feeling so numb and confused and alone for almost two years, I found people like me writing about experiences that I could relate to. Unlike all my close friends, these women didn't get pregnant three minutes after saying "I want to have a baby." Unlike anyone I was close to in real life, many of these women had lost their babies.

Now I have to say, I believe I have the best friends in the world. Almost all of my friends and family were incredibly loving and supportive. I'm not sure how I could have gotten through losing the baby without them. And while love and support are important, so are shared experiences. For two years I had lots of love and support but very little shared experiences. The blogworld gave me that on a daily basis. It has been an important part of processing our losses and the struggle to get pregnant.

Now I mostly just read blogs. I occasionally will comment, but just reading is mostly enough for me. I know some people make real friendships online, but that just hasn't seemed to happen for me. I'm not sure why. Maybe I don't read and write regularly enough. And I think I have hard enough time really opening up to people and communicating in real, face-to-face life with people I have know for years. I get my comfort from just reading and writing and lurking about the blogworld. And I think that's okay.

But this blogger who is ending her blog? I will really miss her. Which feels a little weird because I don't really KNOW her. Although actually, I probably know things about her that people in her real life don't know. And our shared experiences make us kindred spirits in a way. I honestly feel like we could be friends in real life. And I know she would have continued to make me laugh and cry if she were to write about the joys and challenges of being a mother. I will miss her, but at the same time, I don't need her like I did before. I don't need to read as much and I don't need to write as much because I am in a different place I accomplished the goal and so did she - we birthed our babies. They are here, alive and healthy. Having my son doesn't erase the past or make me forget what it took to bring him into my life, but it sure does help.

So adios my favorite blogger. And thank you.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Birth Story

I went to a St. Paddy's Day party this past Saturday and saw some friends I used to work with. The friends I worked with when I lost the baby. Who covered my classes, wrote lesson plans, found ways for me to get paid for the sick days even though I had used up my allotment for the year, who packed up my room when I had the second loss and missed the end of the school year, who still invite me to all their events even though I haven't worked with them in two years. They are truly wonderful people. The best people I've ever worked with. Why oh why did I leave that job?

But that's not what this post is about. I mention the party because they asked me about the birth and as I was telling the story I realized I'm already forgetting things. Greg corrected me a couple of times or added things I had COMPLETELY forgotten (which is probably for the best). So before I forget all the gory details, I shall attempt to get the story down for posterity's sake.

I had Braxton Hicks contractions for weeks before I gave birth. We even ended up in Labor and Delivery twice because they were so frequent. They weren't really painful, just uncomfortable. So on Christmas Eve, when they went from uncomfortable to painful, I didn't think TOO much of it. I had been running around all day getting ready for Christmas - wrapping presents, baking, doing laundry. I thought I was just overdoing it. I just needed to drink a bunch of water and get off my feet. But when we went to my parents house for dinner, I started keeping my eye on the clock and told the husband not to drink too much just in case. As the night went on, they got more painful and more regular, but I think I was in denial. I kept saying, "I'm sure this isn't it." My family told me afterwards that they could tell that I was actually in pain and that this WAS in fact it. While we were opening presents, I felt like I was in a fog. I kept having to stop and concentrate to get through them. I even had my sister in law do a little trim on my hair. I joked that if I was going to have my baby that night, I wanted my hair to look good in the pictures. I guess I am just THAT vain. And actually, after 32 hours of labor, the only thing that looked good in the pictures was my baby and my hair. But I am jumping ahead...

When Greg and I got home and I decided to call Labor and Delivery because the contractions were 5 to 6 minutes apart. They told me that since my water hadn't broken and I hadn't lost the plug to just stay at home for the time being - take a shower, try to sleep, etc. I did take a shower and I tried to sleep but I couldn't. The pain was too bad. It got progressively worse and worse. When they were about 4 minutes apart, I decided we were going in. By this time, it was 6 o'clock in the morning on Christmas Day. We were so excited because we were going to get a baby for Christmas!

At this point, the contractions were really starting to hurt. Not just hurt, but HURT. I was SURE they would check me right in and out would come a baby a couple of hours later. Ha. The triage nurse checked me and said I was only 1 and a half centimeters dilated!!! I was like....EXCUSE ME? Even though I had lost my plug in the bathroom while changing in to the hospital gown (which, by the way was GUH-ROSS - the plug, not the gown), she was about to send me home or out for a walk. But then I felt a whole bunch of wetness in the nether-region. She checked me and said "Well, your water broke, that's your ticket in." Woo hoo! Again, I was SURE that now that my water had broken, things would start moving along and we would have a baby in a few hours. Ha.

Now let me stop here and say that I didn't really have a birth plan. The only thing I cared about was having a live baby. That was the plan. However that could be accomplished was okay with me. But I did have this feeling like I wanted to go natural as long as I could. I never said I would definitely NOT get an epidural, I never said that I felt that using drugs in labor was EVIL or anything. But I did say I would try to go as long as I could without them. I just felt like, natural childbirth is NATURAL. That's the way women have done it for thousands of years. If they can do it, I can do it. I read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, went to the birthing classes, bought a birthing ball. I was ready to give natural childbirth the old college try. Ha.

Approximately 1 hour after checking into our room, I asked for Fentanyl. I didn't want to do the epidural yet because I still wanted to be able to get up. But I was so friggin tired and the pain was keeping me from sleeping. So I thought, one shot of this stuff, I'll sleep a little and then we'll finish up. Let's just say I told myself this THREE times and never got to sleep. The Fentanyl helped dull the pain a LITTLE. All the while, I was doing my breathing and attempting the relaxation techniques, trying different positions, the husband was holding my hand, massaging my back - we were doing all the things we had learned. And I was doing okay.

Then came this hour period (my husband will say it was 10 minutes) of contraction after contraction. NO breaks in between. It was pretty awful. Let's just say this is when I asked (begged) for the epidural. Me, the person who used to pass out in the waiting room before having a blood test, asked someone to stick a needle in my spine (and didn't even flinch when they did it by the way). When the epidural had taken effect, I turned to Greg and said - and WHY did I wait so long to get this? Before the epidural - bad. After the epidural - good. So no more natural childbirth.

They checked me again after the epidural was started. I was only THREE centimeters dilated. It was noon on Christmas, I had been in labor for 20 hours and I was only dilated three centimeters! But I still thought I would have a baby for Christmas. I mean, how could I not right? Ha.

So the next 12 hours are a bit of a blur. They put an oxygen mask on me when the baby's heart rate dropped. They tried pitocin to move things along and then stopped it when the baby's heart rate dropped. There were a few scary moments when my nurses rushed in to move me around when the baby's heart rate dropped for no apparent reason. It always went right back up and they told me not to worry, that lots of babies do this. Not worry? Yeah right. I had my eyes on the monitor ALL DAY. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't pay attention to the TV (we brought some West Wing DVDs). I didn't freak out or vocalize my fears, but I was definitely nervous. I kept thinking - I can't have made it this far to lose him now.

Around 10pm (we had just about given up on having the baby for Christmas), my nurse told me it was time to push. Yay! After 30 hours of labor, I finally got to DO something and the end was near! It was my nurse, Greg and me. They held my legs. I pushed. I felt great. Things were progressing. Greg even got to take a peek at the top of his head starting to show through. The epidural made me comfortable but I could still feel the contractions so I knew when to push. My nurse was fabulous. She and Greg were cheering me along and supporting me. This was the best hour of the whole labor experience.

And then it all went bad. The monitor starting beeping LOUDLY. HIs heart rate was dropping again. Only really low this time. The doors bursts open and doctors and nurses rush in. They turned on all the lights. They all stood at the foot of the bed and around me, pushing my legs back, telling me to push the hardest I ever pushed. I'm thinking, I HAVE BEEN. I could hear the monitor beeping this whole time and it was the worst sound - like a knife in my heart. The doctor decided to try to vaccuum him out. I had to push while she was doing this. I officially started to lose it at this point. I was crying and pushing and praying. I kept looking at Greg and he was so calm. Telling me I'm doing great, its going to be okay. He kept me from have a total breakdown. Because I just really started to feel like, it wasn't going to happen. For nine months I had kept the fear at bay, focused on the positive, slowly but surely relaxed and let my guard down a bit and now, at the very end, something scary was happening. Something was going wrong. Again. And I was so afraid of losing him. It was a truly horrible few minutes.

At some point, his heart rate stabilized. I can't remember when. It may have been before the doctor told me she thought we needed to do a c-section or after. But I VIVIDLY remember saying "Do whatever you have to do to get my baby out alive." And I kept asking one of the nurses 'Is he okay now?" Since the danger had past, they probably thought I was being a bit dramatic. But I was done waiting and trying to remain calm and feeling scared. I just wanted him OUT.

The c-section was a bit of a blur too. Mind you, I had been awake for over 48 hours at this point. But I do know that I did NOT like it. No duh right? I mean, it was worth it. I'd do it again. I'd do it a hundred more times. I would have done ANYTHING to get my baby out and into my arms. But, honestly, I found it very disturbing. The whole being awake while your opened up thing. Especially after Greg and the baby left and they were finishing me up. I felt very alone. And nauseous. And cold. And scared. They had to bring in a second surgeon to help. Apparently they thought they nicked my bladder and there was "lots of cleaning up to do." I could hear them talking behind the drape but they weren't telling me anything directly so I was scared. Afterwards when I was in recovery the doctor told me that "this was not your average c-section." Awesome. She said that because I had been in labor for so long (over 30 hours) and the baby had started to descend into the birth canal, it was harder to get him out and clean me up.

But now let's backtrack to the good stuff. The moment I will never forget. I heard him cry before I actually saw him. He cried as soon as they got him out. The most wonderful sound I have ever heard. I remember thinking - that's a good strong cry. HE'S OKAY. He's alive. WE MADE IT.

A nurse swept him up and past me over to a table. They asked Greg what his name was and he said we didn't know yet. He looked over at me like "Well?", but he knew what name I really wanted. We had gone in with two or three possibilities, but wanted to wait to decide until we saw the baby. He told me he looked at the baby, saw his red cheeks and his angry-looking little face (I'd be angry too after what he went through to get out of there) and knew that Finley was perfect.

They measured and weighed him. I remember thinking - 6 pounds 15 ounces? That's not very big. I gained 50 pounds and he measured big at every ultrasound AND after trying to vacuum him out, the doctor said she thought maybe he was too big to come out that way. Hence the c-section. Obviously this was not the case. They told me later that he was sunny side up and after 30 hours of labor he was probably just too tired to get out that way. This also explains the HORRENDOUS back labor I had.

They wrapped him up and brought him over to me. He was so adorable. His face was all squished and red. He did look like a cute little angry Irishman. I got to touch his cheeks and tell him that he was beautiful and that I loved him. I just felt such wonder. I was looking at MY baby. It was surreal. And amazing. Not amazing like, "your new hair cut is amazing" or "this lasagna is amazing." But amazing like, nothing in my life can ever match this moment. Amazing like, this beautiful little person was just inside of me and now here he is looking at me. Unfortunately, I also felt terribly nauseous and was thinking to myself - don't puke on your baby. Just don't puke on the baby. After a few minutes they said they had to take him to the nursery. It took a few hours to get me finished up, into recovery, and then to our room. Our nurse said we could leave the baby in the nursery so we could get some sleep, but there was no way we weren't having him with us. I had only gotten a few moments with him in the three hours since he had been born and I needed him with me.

***Okay, I started writing this post a month ago and finally came back to finish it. And after re-reading it, I'm not sure how I feel about it. I feel like maybe I was focusing the story too much on how hard it was. But I mean, who really cares about how hard it was getting him here? Yes, 32 hours of labor was hard. Yes, there were scary moments. No, having a c-section was not ideal. I would much rather have pushed him out and had him immediately placed on my chest with Greg standing next to us for a beautiful, calm, non-puky, family bonding moment. But that's not how it turned out. Such is life. The whole three year process of trying to have a baby was hard. The pregnancy was hard. Birthing him was hard. Life can be difficult. But so what? He is here. He is healthy and beautiful. And I am very aware that some people don't have that. Some people are still where I was a year ago. Some people would do anything to get to have 32 hours of labor and a c-section. That's how I felt a year ago. The hard stuff about the birth is the stuff I had trouble remembering and for some reason felt the need to get down on paper before I forgot it. The wonderful moments like hearing him cry and seeing him for the first time are burned in my memory. Those are mental pictures and sounds that I will never forget.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

This Year is Different

So Sunday was March 7. Three years ago on that date, I terminated my pregnancy. My baby girl died on March 7. She had anencephaly, no chance at life outside my womb. The week that we found out our baby's diagnosis, made our choice and lost her was the worst week of my life. I had never known such a loss, such sadness or experienced such grief before. March 7, 2007 marked the beginning of a very difficult period in my life. That loss would be followed by difficulty getting pregnant again, a second loss, more difficulty getting pregnant and then trying to conceive through fertility treatments. Those experiences changed me. Who I was and how I looked at the world shifted.

And I pretty much felt like shit for about 3 years. I mean, I was able to function quite well - continue working, take a vacation here and there, see friends, even celebrate the births of many of my friends' babies. I went to baby showers and kid birthday parties, I enjoyed the holidays with my family, I loved to sit in the sun and read, my husband and I worked on our house and the backyard.....I feel like I kept on living. I mean, what was the alternative? Curl up into a ball and cry for three years? Become bitter and angry, withdraw from the people who loved me? No. I was determined not to do those things. But there was a hole in my heart and a sadness in my being that was always there. Even when I felt pretty okay. Something was missing from my life - the baby that I lost and the baby I still wanted so badly - and that was always present. It wasn't necessarily always at the forefront of my mind, but it was always lurking in the background. Always with me. Even when I got pregnant with my son. The fear of losing him too was always present. Every milestone was surreal. I was cautious and careful with my heart. And while I slowly but surely allowed myself to enjoy moments of my pregnancy, not until I heard him cry after they took him out of me could I breathe deeply and let go of that fear.

And I don't think I truly appreciated what I was feeling and how I made my way through life before until after my son was born. You know how you never know how bad you really felt until you feel better? And actually, I think its more that I wasn't really FEELING. Not completely anyway. I wasn't miserable all the time, I just wasn't ever truly happy. I felt grey. Sometimes just a little grey and sometimes very grey, but definitely grey. And now the color is back. Having my son fills me with joy and brings me peace.

That doesn't mean I have forgotten how we got here. Or what we lost along the way. I still cried on Sunday for my baby girl. I thought about her all day. But its different this year. I cried and then looked at my beautiful baby boy who has filled the hole in my heart. Who has put the color back in my life. And I could smile through the tears.

On the second morning we were in the hospital, the doctor who did rounds was the doctor who performed the D&E three years ago. I haven't seen her since then, but I recognized her name instantly. And she recognized me. She said she was so happy to see me under these circumstances. After she left, I broke down and sobbed. I mean I cried like I haven't cried for almost three years. Cried like I almost never do. Just sobbed and sobbed. I cried because I hadn't thought about my first baby once since my son had been born two days earlier. Not once until I saw the doctor. That made me feel guilty and free at the same time. Guilty because I always imagined that she would be on my mind right as he was born and the first times I looked at him - like I wanted her to be a part of it and not forgotten. But I also felt freed. Freed from the pain and sadness of the past three years. Free because I could cry and cry and cry for the baby I lost, but then I could go and pick up my son and feel such overwhelming love and joy. I could feel, really FEEL, both extremes. I feel like that doctor came to me that morning for a reason.

This year is different. Better. Better doesn't begin to describe it. I am so blessed and grateful.