Saturday, August 29, 2015

Simultaneous hope and grief

If you read my last post, you know the next couple weeks are huge regarding pregnancy milestones.

Today I'm 27 weeks and 1 day and I'm feeling overwhelmed. Usually when I'm feeling strong emotions the words just pour out. I can type without much thinking behind it. Sometimes a post comes to me and I "write" it in my head without even being at the computer. This time I feel I need to write, but the words are not coming to me. So we'll see where this goes.

A week and a half ago we had a very positive appointment. At 25 weeks 5 days, my cervix measured 3.1 cm long without any funneling. That is a normal length! With Ethan my shortening and funneling was discovered at 24 weeks 4 days. So I was more than a week later gestationally at my last appointment with this baby and the results were so clearly different. This did bring some peace of mind. This pregnancy really is different.

I can't help and compare though. To think of those pregnancy milestones. To think of what was going on during Ethan's pregnancy at this time. To think how making it to a certain day means staying pregnant longer than I ever did with Ethan or Marcellus.

The progesterone shot I got on Wednesday compares to the last shot I got with Ethan. Making it to my appointment this upcoming Wednesday will mean I will have officially stayed pregnant longer than I did with Ethan. Making it a week after that means I will have hit Marcellus's gestation. Tomorrow compares to the day I went into labor with Ethan. And it turns out the days of the week from Ethan's pregnancy match up with this one, meaning it was a Sunday I went into labor with him.

I'm hopeful. I really am. I'm hopeful this pregnancy will go much longer, perhaps even full term. I am getting better about saying "when we get to..." rather than "if." I am making plans as if this baby will be born in November. But the comparison is always there. My history is always there, in the back of my mind. Taunting me a bit. So while I am hopeful we will get to (or at least close to) full term, I fully understand it is not a guarantee. This baby could be born anytime. That is reality.

Another thing I've realized as we get closer to and more and more hopeful to get past Ethan and Marcellus's gestations is a different type of grief has come up. The more I envision this pregnancy progressing into the third trimester the more I am grieving Ethan and Marcellus's pregnancies. Don't get me wrong, of course I would much rather be grieving that than to have this baby born also premature. But that doesn't make it disappear.

I am left wondering why. Left with the intense realization of all the things I missed out on with them in their pregnancies. Left with the intense realization of what I missed out on at the very beginning of their lives. When they came into this world I couldn't even hold them. They couldn't even be with their momma. They had to be whisked away to an isolette and machines and doctors and nurses instead. And of course I know too well all the things I missed out on and will never have with Marcellus. But right now I'm just speaking to pregnancy and birth.

So to even have hope of something different for this baby is overwhelming. Overwhelmingly wonderful. But also overwhelmingly devastating to think of how different it was for his or her brothers.

And so while I am thankful for each and every day of this pregnancy, especially those to be experienced past Ethan and Marcellus's gestations, each of those days is a reminder of what I didn't get with my boys. Each of those days throws it in my face that I didn't get to that point with them. Each of those days brings up grief of its own.

What a mix of emotions I have right now!

Marcellus, before we even knew your life was going to be cut so short, I was grieving for your pregnancy. That our bodies were separated much too soon. That my womb, where you were safe, was empty and you were instead fighting for your life. 28 weeks 5 days. How unexpected it all was. How unreal it all sometimes feels right now. Suddenly being in labor so early, the c-section, the NICU and of course most of all, your death. As much joy as we felt during those 12 days (well 11, because the last day you were so sick and it was primarily filled with fear) we were also grieving during those 12 days. Grieving our home birth, grieving a natural vaginal birth, grieving the typical birth and newborn experience - yours was so mechanical. Grieving not having you with us 24/7. And while none of that can compare to grieving your death...those are still things I grieve. 28 weeks 5 days. Much too soon. If only I could have kept you safe in my womb, maybe you'd still be alive......
I'm so sorry. xoxox.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Vulnerability of Pregnancy Milestones

 Am a little crazy to be doing this again?! This being pregnancy, trying to carry a baby to term. Don't get me wrong, this baby is very much a wanted baby, very much a planned and tried for baby, and we very very very much want to continue to grow our family. But now that I'm in the middle of it at a very vulnerable time of pregnancy the thought of "What was I thinking?!" goes through my head. What was a I thinking when I thought I'd be able to emotionally handle this?

I guess I thought the cerclage would give me more peace of mind than it is. I thought, "hey we haven't tried everything yet...we still have one more measure to take. It has to be the golden ticket to carrying this baby to term." And while it has lessened some fears, it hasn't taken them all away and it comes with it's own fears.

I'm 23 weeks 5 days today. I ended up at triage of Labor & Delivery on Sunday night. My reason for going in, an increase in what I thought (and probably ended up being) Braxton Hicks (BH) contractions. BH are normal in pregnancy. And especially this being my fourth pregnancy this far, I'm going to have them and feel them. But on Sunday night they were happening way more frequently than that had been. So, I called. The doctor on call is my favorite at the practice and she is super cautious with me (she was the doctor for Ethan's birth). On the monitor the "contractions" were showing up, but not to the extend as real/full contractions. She described it as irritability. My cervix checked out fine. She said that if this were my first pregnancy or I had a history of only full term pregnancies, she wouldn't even bat an eye at what I had described. But my history says otherwise. My history (my boys) say that I need to be checked for every little thing. That if there is even a minute change in anything (frequency, intensity, duration, discharge, anything) I need to be seen. And of course that never occurs during business hours.

Since Sunday I am really aware of my vulnerability right now. I think I was trying to be guarded before. But now we're getting close to some big milestones and that guard is failing. I have to admit I am a big ball of nerves. I'm scared. I'm so scared. Everyday the thought runs through my head that this baby may be premature too.

I'm realizing there are things about this pregnancy that are more difficult than Ethan's...because he was premature. When I was pregnant with Ethan the grief of losing Marcellus was so raw. And that definitely played a role in how I felt during Ethan's pregnancy. But there was still a chance Marcellus's prematurity was a one time thing, that for some reason it was just something about his pregnancy. But now we know, it wasn't a one time thing. It wasn't just Marcellus's pregnancy. We were taking precautions and preventative measures (we didn't do a cerclage, but had the progesterone shots and monitoring). Even after being put on modified bed rest I was feeling pretty good that we would get farther with Ethan. But we didn't, he was born even earlier. Something I was caught totally off guard about. At the time I really didn't feel that he would be born at an earlier gestation than Marcellus.

So now I have a body I can not trust to any degree at carrying this baby to term. I have an additional measure in place, but I can't fully trust that either. Everyday I'm left wondering if what I'm feeling is normal. If my body will at least give me more warning this time. If I will make it to Ethan's gestation, Marcellus's gestation, is there really a possibility I could get farther?!? I know the dates. I know when I hit certain gestations. I think about it way to often not to know. I know the big milestones related to premature delivery in general and then the milestones related to my other babies and then mix in there Marcellus's birthday and death anniversary. So here's a full list of big dates I have in my head.

  • The first big milestone happens to be this Friday, 24 weeks. It's where the chance of survival is over 50%.
  • Next Tuesday (Aug 11) is 24 weeks 4 days. That is when I was put on modified bed rest with Ethan due to cervical shortening and funneling. 
  • Sunday, Aug 30 is 27 weeks 2 days.That is when I went into labor with Ethan. 
  • Tuesday, Sept 1 is 27 weeks 4 days. That is when Ethan was born. 
  • Friday, Sept 4 is 28 weeks. In general there are better outcomes for preemies born after 28 weeks. 
  • Wednesday, Sept 9 is 28 weeks 5 days. That is when Marcellus was born. 
  • Monday, Sept 12 is 30 weeks 3 days. That is the adjusted age of Marcellus when he died. 
  • Friday, Oct 2 is 32 weeks. Lung development after 32 weeks is better and is another in general milestone. 
  • Wednesday, Oct 28th is Marcellus's 4th birthday. I'll (hopefully) be 35 weeks 5 days. 
  • Wednesday, Nov 4th is 36 weeks 5 days. That is the gestation Angela was born at. 
  • Friday, Nov 6th is 37 weeks. This would mean full-term!!!
  • Monday, Nov 9th is the 4th anniversary of Marcellus's death. While I would be so thankful to get to 37 weeks 3 days, I would not want the baby born on this day.
  • Friday, Nov 27th...due date! 
Why make a big deal out of all these dates?! It's just the way my mind works. It might have something to do with the mathematical part of my brain, focused on numbers. I don't know. My therapist would probably say I'm letting the dates have too much power. But in a way I think it can be a good thing too. Every single day I am still carrying this baby is a huge blessing. Each day makes a difference.

So if you see me or talk to me in the near future, especially around these dates, keep my vulnerability in mind. I might end up distant, I might end up anxious, I might end up tearing up from time to time. I can't predict how I will feel from day to day. But what I can tell you are some words and phrases that can help support me and show me your care.

Simply, you can let me know you are thinking of me. You can ask me how I'm doing (not just how I'm feeling pregnancy wise, but how I am really doing with everything). While I appreciate positive thinking about making it to full-term this time, I need my fear acknowledged. "I can't imagine how scary this must be for you. It's understandably a difficult time of pregnancy. I'm here if you want to talk about it and share your fears with me." There are some phrases that are good to start with.

Taking this pregnancy one day at a time, especially over the next month as I approach Ethan and Marcellus's gestations. One day at a time. Each day matters.

Mantra: Today this baby is still tucked safely in my womb and for that I am blessed and grateful.

Marcellus, this post again talks about how my body has failed. How it failed you. How it failed your littler brother, but it especially failed you. Not even enough warning for you to get steroid shots. I am so sorry baby boy. I am so so so sorry I could not keep you tucked safely in my womb for as long as you needed. I'm sorry my body failed you. It failed me too. It failed me too my sweet boy. Loving and missing you every single moment of every single day. xoxox.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

When I really think about it...

When I really think about it, it takes my breath away.

When I really think about it, I my heart can feel the same pain in those million tiny pieces it broke into that day.

When I really think about it, my head spins with confusion.

When I really really really think about it I think I'll never breath again.

When I really really really think about it my heart feels like it may stop beating completely.

When I really really really think about it my head, well my head just might explode.

And when I really really really think about it...actually, I just can't. I just can't think about it to that degree. Could you?

My mind, body and soul cannot comprehend living a life where my son is no longer here, where I held his tiny body as he took his last breath and his heart stopped beating. But yet, here I am living that life.

I have to tell myself it is what it is and keep on living day to day. To think about the fact that he was here. The joy is little life brought and brings me. The love I have for him. That I am his mother, forever will be, Marcellus's Mommy. Death cannot take that away from me. 

Dear Marcellus, your death took so much with it. But yet, your life brought so much joy and love into ours. And while your death is the most awful, horrible thing that has happened to us, your life is still one of the most beautiful. Death cannot take away what you brought into this world, what you gave to me, your momma. I will forever be your momma my sweet boy. Forever and ever and always. And as your momma I love you, miss you, ache for you every single day. xoxox.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Feeling crazy

I wish I could fully explain to you how crazy pregnancy can make me feel. Or maybe I don't because I don't want you to have to try to understand what can go on inside my head. I'm currently 16 weeks 4 days pregnant with my second rainbow baby and sometimes I feel like I'm losing my mind.

At the beginning of my pregnancy I was (as you could expect) worried about miscarriage, especially after having just lost Lark at about 6 weeks gestation in January. But honestly, I feel like I handled that part pretty well. Then we got through the first trimester and there was kind of a "honeymoon" period of little worry. I felt great! No symptoms really at all (except crazy dreams). But now, I'm getting bigger, I can feel Cranberry (nickname given since due date is the day after Thanksgiving), I'm coming up on my first appointment with the specialist (this afternoon actually), I start my extra monitoring and progestrone shots......and it's getting scary. It's getting blatantly obvious that this is is not a "normal" pregnancy. And so, the crazy is coming out. My anxiety is kicking in.

And because of that I ended up in the ER Sunday evening. Everything is fine, but I was having some questionable symptoms over the weekend. Saturday I had a pretty constant backache, twinges "down there" that I hadn't been feeling before and then Sunday came (TMI warning) discharge that I haven't had before. (More TMI) At my last appointment my OB specifically said to look out for mucousy discharge, that it can be nothing, but in my case it could also be a sign of cervical changes. So yeah, of course that's what I had and of course it happened on the weekend.

I don't care to go into the details of the ER visit. It went fine, everything is thankfully fine. What this post is about is how I feel like I am going crazy sometimes. The decision to head into the ER had me in tears. I didn't want to go (I mean who would). The thought of going made me cry, the thought of trying to wait it out made me cry. I couldn't help but think "what if I don't go in and we lose this baby too, then it's all my fault." I just envisioned getting to my appointment with the specialist today and him finding a little foot dangling out of my cervix. So, I decided to go in (so thankful for a great supportive practice that does not make me feel irrational for going in).

I had a similar experience around 22 weeks when I was pregnant with Ethan. When I went in with Ethan it was the day before Marcellus's first birthday and I thought that was why I was feeling so crazy. But the way I felt on Sunday reminded me of exactly how I felt with Ethan. Here are some experts from a blog post I wrote then (on the private blog I wrote in during Ethan's pregnancy).

From Ethan's pregnancy: "And so my mind went crazy with it. Actually I felt like I was losing my mind. I absolutely felt crazy. I said to Mike how much I hated feeling like that. The worry, the anxiety, the fear, the craziness. Since losing Marcellus we've often said we want a large family, 5 living children. I looked at him then with tears in my eyes and said, "I don't think I'll ever be able to do this again. I don't think I can do this 4 more times." It was the first time in my pregnancy it had gotten that hard. That hard, that I might just say one living child is enough the anxiety is too much."

When I got home from the ER on Sunday night I actually said to Mike, "even if this baby ends up full-term, I don't know if I'll be able to do this again." Very similar feelings as I wrote about with Ethan. 

From Ethan's pregnancy: "My body failed me when I had Marcellus by going into labor so early, I can't trust it anymore."

The above statement tears me up and is now two-fold. Even though Ethan is here and healthy and amazing, my body still failed him too. And he had to spend his first 10 weeks of life in the NICU because of it. So how do I not freak out?! How do I try to trust that things are going okay?! I really feel like I can't. I can not trust my body to keep my baby safe. And what an awful feeling that is. I even said this to my OB on Sunday (when she came down from L&D to see me in the ER)...I told her how hard it is not to be able to trust my body to do what it's supposed to. To keep my babies in until they are ready to be born.

Marcellus is dead because of that inability. He only got NEC because he was preemie. His death certificate even says "extreme prematurity" as a secondary cause. So I go a little crazy during pregnancy. I guess I can't blame myself for that. Two babies - one died, one in the NICU for 10 weeks....yeah, that'll give you anxiety during pregnancy. I'm sure it's going to continue until we are (hopefully) out of the prematurity range. That's a lot of weeks of anxiety left. I plan on starting to see my therapist regularly again to help me manage it. 

It's just not fair I will never have a normal pregnancy ever again. Never will I go through pregnancy without this intense fear that brings me to crazy anxiety provoking thoughts. Never again will I just be able to enjoy a pregnancy freely. And who knows, maybe after this baby I will never again be pregnant because I can't handle that. That in itself is not a thought I am wanting to explore in detail quite yet though.

Marcellus, I am so sorry my body failed you. That it did not do it's job to keep you safe until you were ready to be born. I hate that. I hate that so much. And then your little brother being born early, it failed him too in the same way. And now I fear everyday that it will fail your next little sibling. I don't think people can truly understand the fear you can live with after losing a baby. To have you die was my worst nightmare. And if it could happen to you, it could happen to another baby too. I'm going to work on managing my fear and my anxiety. So that I can enjoy this pregnancy with Cranberry in some ways I was able to enjoy my beautiful pregnancy with you. With you my sweet boy. I love you!!! xoxox.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Well, actually it's my 5th

I haven't written on my blog about this yet, but I'm pregnant again! I'm about 11.5 weeks along and this baby is due 11/27/15. We've nicknamed the baby Cranberry since the due date is the day after Thanksgiving. So far, everything is going perfectly!

I was at the dentist today for a routine cleaning. I let them know I'm pregnant. Now everyone at my dentist office is super nice, so I don't hold any of this against them. But that doesn't mean it's easy to deal with.

The dental hygienist asked if this was my second pregnancy. I responded that it's my third, however, I wanted to shout "Well, actually it's my 5th pregnancy!" Five, five times I've been pregnant. Three times I've given birth to beautiful children and pray every day that this baby will be #4. But I responded "Third," because who wants to really hear my complicated pregnancy/motherhood journey? What would it be like if I responded in detail...

"This is my 5th pregnancy. I had my first when I was barely 17 and placed her for adoption. I named her Angela Mae, but her adoptive parents named her something else. I haven't heard from her parents in 3 years now, so I have no idea how's she's doing. I pray that her family is still alive and well and that's she's happy. My second, my son, Marcellus Robert, was born at 28 weeks and he lived for only 12 days. Yes, only 12 days. That's right, my son died. He's buried in MN where I only get to visit his grave site about twice a year. He would be 3.5 years old, but he's not here. It sucks! My third child, second son, Ethan Michael, is 2.5 years and thriving. He's amazing, but we had a traumatic start to his life that still haunts me. He was born at 27 weeks gestation and spent 10 weeks in the NICU. I feared for his life and was sure he would die too. Everyday I know the outcome could have been different and am so so so grateful he is a healthy, rambunctious, joyful child. My fourth baby was not here for long at all, Baby Lark. I miscarried him or her at 6 weeks gestation. It was awful and I still haven't made complete sense of it, especially now expecting again. So, yes, this is my fifth pregnancy, but I only have one child at home. And while I am being optimistic that this baby will be born healthy and in November, I know that's not a guarantee. Now that I'm starting to get over my fear of miscarriage, the fear of premature labor is replacing it. Just the other night I couldn't sleep because I was thinking about what if this baby is born prematurely too. I just don't know how I could handle that or anything happening."

But my answer of "Third," was sufficient for most of the appointment. She never asked any details about my children and only commenting on how great I look for being in my third pregnancy. The dentist (who I've happen to never meet, she's only there on Tuesdays) on the other hand asked the question, "How old are your children?" I said my first son only lived for 12 days, but would be 3.5 years old and my second son is 2.5 years old. Here response was "I'm so sorry, that has to be so hard." and she examined my teeth, so I really couldn't respond. But yes, yes it is hard, very hard.

And while it's very hard most of the time it is what it is. It is my life. It is what I live everyday. But then there are the moments, the moments that make you feel the weight of it all. Moments like someone asking you how old your children are. While I am always happy to tell someone about Marcellus, to be able to speak of my children (and not just Ethan), answering those questions can cause me to feel the full weight of it. To step back and think "this is really my life."

It is my life though and everyday I work to make the conscience choice not to let that weight bring me down. There are moments where it will though. That's inevitable through the rest of my life. But in my daily living I choose joy. I choose to feel the joy of being the momma to all these babies. So, while I may have answered "third" I know in my heart that I am the momma of five. All very different circumstances and mothered in very different ways, but I carried each of them in my womb and loved them all from the moment I found out about their existence. They each take up a special place in my momma heart.

Marcellus, even though I didn't get to speak your name at the dentist office I did get to mention you. You are my child. You forever will be, even if you are not here to age. Forever my 12 day old baby, but I am always wondering who you would be as a 3.5 years old. I stopped by your tree. It looks good and is growing so big, just like I'm sure you would be if you were here. E and I are going to MN tomorrow. We'll stop by your spot right away. I hope we can find some beautiful flowers for you and will get it all cleaned up. I am so thankful for you and each one of your siblings. Yes, I wish the circumstances were different and somehow you could all be with me. But you all have shaped who I am and I know I am a better person for having carried and for loving each of you. Forever and ever and always I will love you, you will be my child, my first born son, my squirmy wormy. I miss you sweet boy!!! xoxox.    

Monday, April 6, 2015

I miss him

There's not much to say other than the title.

I miss Marcellus. I miss him every day. Every. Single. Day.

Missing him is just part of my daily routine. It's there, but I don't feel it intensely. But then there are the moments where it is more raw. I feel his absence in my entire being. I feel that tonight.

I feel it in a way that it seems so surreal. Surreal that he was here. Surreal that he is gone. Surreal that I am an infant loss mom. That I have a dead child.

I carried him, birthed him, heard him cry, held him, kissed him and yet he is not here.

He is not here. 

And damn, do I miss him!

Marcellus, I will always miss you. Every day of my life I will continue to miss you and wonder about you. I love you, forever and ever and always! xoxox

Sunday, February 22, 2015

An unexpected hard day

I wrote this first part on January 27th, just never published it.
Why does it seem like everyone else gets to have healthy full term babies and I don't?

I know it's not everyone, I know way too many mommas that have endure as many or more trials and difficulties than I have. But sometimes it feels that it's everyone but me.
On facebook I just saw two beautiful brand new babies from two different people. Not people that I'm close with or have talked to in a long while. I may or may not have even known they were pregnant (and if I did know, I didn't remember) when bam, Facebook makes sure I see those sweet babies.

And it stings. It still stings. I hate that. I hate that it hurts when I see pictures of other peoples newborn babies. I hate that my initial reaction is envy and the pain of my own experiences. I hate that sometimes I think "if they only knew..." but I don't want them to know anything different. And I don't know them well anymore, so maybe there was struggle before that beautiful baby came along. I don't know. But to me it just feels like it was so easy to them. So easy for everyone else.

"Hey let's get pregnant and have a baby! It's easy!" and for some, it is. The getting pregnant is easy, the staying pregnant is easy, the having a full term healthy baby that comes home from the hospital (or birth center or born in  your home or whatever) is easy.
But for others it's excruciatingly difficult to get pregnant. And there's heartache after heartache after heartache. There can be so many obstacles to overcome. And what I struggle with is why so much for some people while others sail through it??? Why does struggle not seem to be equally divided. Why do some go through so much, so so so much and others don't even have to try and everything just falls into place so damn perfectly?!?!?

Yeah, I know, a part of my consciousness I need to work on (I'm reading "The Conscious Parent"). I don't want to think and feel these ways, but for now I do.

So in that first part I wrote about how hard it was to still see pictures of brand new babies on Facebook. I came to sit down to write now because I just found myself crying over pregnancy posts. Seemed fitting to put them together. Damn you Facebook! I have mixed feelings about Facebook for various reasons and have considered getting rid of it on multiple occasions. But we live far away from family and it's an easy way to share what we're doing, especially with Ethan. And I have some awesome groups I'm a part of that I don't want to lose the online connection to.

I have really been doing well lately. I was even thinking about writing an "I am happy despite..." type of post. But then I just now I broke down a little. The other day I saw a pregnancy announcement for someone that has a little boy Ethan's age, she's due in August. Lark was due Sept 5th. Cue heart breaking and instant jealousy.

Then a couple of days ago I met a woman whose kids are about 14 months apart. She made a comment, "I wouldn't have them so close together if it was my choice." I don't understand how it wasn't her choice though?! I suppose she could have gotten pregnant while trying to prevent and I can only imagine what it's like to have two children that young (the oldest is 20 months). But then my heart screams, I want to know! I should know, my boys were born 13.5 months apart. The difference is my "oldest" is dead and that the youngest was supposed to be born 16.5 months after his brother. A dead son and 10 weeks in the NICU, now those weren't by choice.

Just now I saw pregnancy progression photos of someone else who is around 15-16 weeks. She also has up a picture of her little boy (younger than Ethan) in a brother shirt. I saw that and my eyes welled up, lump in my throat...and there they are, the tears. I guess each of the above encounters triggered me enough that with this last one it's all coming out.

I would be about 12 weeks pregnant with Lark. But I'm not, instead I just got my first cycle since having the miscarriage. Marcellus would be 3 years 4 months old. But he's not, instead his life ended at 12 days old.

I miss Marcellus. I miss what should be. I miss what I don't know I'm missing. I miss being pregnant. I fear we'll never have another living child. Ethan's going to get squeezed even tighter tonight because I know just how truly truly blessed I am that he is even here. How fortunate we are to have made it through those ten weeks and have them be relatively uneventful. My amazing little rainbow boy. But he does not erase the heart ache. He does not take away the grief nor should he. That is not his responsibility.

My grieving momma heart feels heavy tonight. Today turned out to be unexpectedly hard.

Marcellus, if only I had you here with your brother to know how crazy it could be to have children so close together. I would welcome that craziness, I want that craziness. Instead there is only one little boy in this house. And what an amazing little boy he is. While I am so so so thankful for your little brother, my heart forever aches for you. For all the days I live, I will yearn for you. And right now I am also yearning to be pregnant with Lark and the pregnancy milestones we'd be reaching soon. I miss you. I miss you I miss you I miss you. I love you. I love you I love you I love you. Oh baby boy, I wish you were here. xoxox.