Tuesday, November 17, 2015

12 days

Weston Morgan Lennon was born 12 days ago. He was born at 36 weeks 6 days gestation perfectly healthy. We held him immediately, he never had to leave us and he came home from the hospital WITH me. I will write his beautiful birth story soon, for now I want to focus on his age.

12 days. It has flown by.

12 days. It has been a crazy joyous whirlwind.

12 days. A marking of the amount of time Marcellus was on this earth.

12 days. In 2 hours and 40 minutes Weston will officially have outlived his biggest brother.

12 days. Yes, I calculated it to the minute.

12 days. Is just not very long at all.

12 days. But it is more than some other families have.

12 days. The age Marcellus will forever be.

12 beautiful days they were.

So, as I sit here typing this post on my phone with Weston snuggled up on my chest I feel anger over the shortness of 12 days while I also feel gratitude for the 12 days we had with Marcellus.

When Ethan was 12 days old he was still fighting hard in the NICU. We were less than one fifth of the way into our NICU stay. I was still fearing for his life.

To sit here with Weston at 12 days old, holding him in bed after he just nursed, to not be wrought with fear over his life is surreal. How has it already been 12 days since he was born?! And how is it that we only had 12 days with Marcellus?!?!?

Dear Marcellus, I'd give anything to have had even just one more day with you. Twelve days was not enough. But no amount of time would ever have been enough. Parents aren't supposed to out live their children. Period. Plain and simple. But here we are more than 4 years from your precious 12 days on earth. As I hold your 12 day old baby brother I reflect on those days with you. I am grateful for them and grateful to be your mother. I love you right up to the moon...and back. Missing you always my sweet boy. Always and forever. xoxox.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

How am I supposed to...

How am I supposed to celebrate and grieve? How am I supposed to balance this pregnancy, this beautiful, almost full-term pregnancy with Marcellus's dates. How am I supposed to get ready for new life with the anniversary of my son's death just around the corner.

I have to be honest, I'm struggling. I'm struggling to figure this all out. To make sense of it all. And I feel like neither are getting the attention they deserve. I feel like I can't fully grieve Marcellus's death in the way I need to right now because of everything there is to worry and do and take care and celebrate and be thankful for with regards to Baby Cranberry (big one being cerclage removal coming up on Wed the 4th). I feel like I can't full enjoy and celebrate being at the end of Baby Cranberry's pregnancy because the intense grief I am currently feeling being in the middle of Marcellus's dates. Having the fear that this baby will be born on Nov 9th, on the 4th anniversary of the day his/her big brother took his last breath in my arms. How could I even deal with the juxtaposition of that?

Balance. I can't find it right now and I feel like all my children are getting gypped because of it.

I haven't even said much about Oct 28th having been Angela's. I haven't gotten and sent her birthday gift. I haven't contacted the adoption agency to see if they can contact her parents and give them a nudge to send me an update. It's been 3.5 years and I've heard nothing. And I haven't dealt with it.

We never sent anything to my mom to put out at his spot for his birthday. I haven't been writing like I'd want to. I intended to share the posts about my memories of his time on earth on Facebook and I haven't been.

And Ethan. My sweet Ethan. He's stuck in the middle of it all. The grief we have for his big brother. The anticipation and busyness and excitement and everything else that comes with the preparations for his little brother/sister. I haven't gotten to spend the time with him I'd like to before his little world is rocked by a new baby. We haven't had the quality time we need.

Lark...if only I hadn't miscarried Lark. I would have had a baby in August and not be at such a vulnerable time of pregnancy around Marcellus's dates. I wouldn't be fearing giving birth on the day he died. If only...

We're not exactly prepared for Baby Cranberry. The house is a disaster. Baby stuff is not organized at all. I haven't had even a moment to really soak this in. To soak in the fact that I'm 36 weeks along.

My head has just been spinning for weeks. I'm so grateful for this pregnancy to be going how it is. Really I am. But I also carry intense grief with me, especially this time of year.

Marcellus, I'm sorry if I haven't been taking them time I need to talk to you, to grieve you, to ache for you. This time of year is hard...so hard. And having this pregnancy with Baby Cranberry go so far along doesn't make it any easier. I think it actually makes it harder in a way. Harder to balance all of these crazy intense emotions I have going on. I'm trying baby boy. I really am, but many days I feel like I'm drowning...so overwhelmed. I want to enjoy these last days of pregnancy. But I also know I need to grieve for you. For the fact that you are not here on earth with me. That while I believe you already know this baby's spirit, you will not know this baby earth side. Your little siblings, alive and well...but you are not. I just want all my babies with me. I love you so so so so so so so much!!! xoxox.

Monday, October 19, 2015

About little brother's birth story

I need to write Ethan's birth story. It's been almost 3 years and I haven't written it down. I would really like to write it out before this baby is born and that could be in just a few weeks.

It's not like I haven't had the opportunity to write it. I have. Many times. It's that I don't know how to go about it. I don't know how to find the emotional reserve needed to go through his birth story in detail. To see it all laid out before me.

You see the thing is, even though Ethan is here and healthy and thriving, his birth was very traumatizing. In many ways it was much more traumatic than Marcellus's birth.

I started writing out Marcellus's birth story when he was in the NICU, he was 9 days old then. I worked on it one night when I was up pumping. I wasn't able to finish it, but did so a couple months later. I couldn't even imagine trying to write Ethan's birth story when he was in the NICU at all let alone when he was 9 days old. When Ethan was 9 days old I was still under the impression that he was certainly going to die too.

And that's where the difference comes in. When Marcellus was born it was scary. It was incredibly scary. But the moment we got to that hospital when I was in labor I no longer feared for my baby's life. We were at the hospital, they could take care of him. So, when he was born at 28 weeks 5 days gestation I worried more about what disabilities he might have, what struggles he might go through and how long of a NICU stay we were looking at. But I thought he was safe. We were where we needed to be. When he was born and he let out his little cry, I did not fear for his life. It was so joyous and I was on cloud 9 during his birth (even though it was a cesarean, which is not at all how I had envisioned delivering, we were planning for a homebirth). 

When I went into the hospital pregnant with Ethan and the doctor confirmed how far into labor I was, it was complete and utter despair. My world just came crashing down. We found ourselves facing the birth of a preemie again. But we knew too much. We knew the worst. And for 48 hours we hung on to hope that he wouldn't be so preemie after all. But he was. He was 27 weeks 4 days, 8 days earlier than Marcellus was. And I was certain he was going to die. I can't tell you for how long I had daily thoughts that he would die too. I can't put into words how incredibly intense, scary, awful, grief filled it was to walk through those NICU doors again.

So Ethan's birth story doesn't have as much joy behind it as Marcellus's does. There was no glowing moment when we found out Ethan was a boy. In fact, we were devastated he was a boy (boys don't do as well in the NICU as girls because the develop slower). How do I write about moments like that? I do I put that down. How do I know one day he may want to know the details of his birth story and I'll have to tell him it was soul crushing enough just finding out he was a boy, let alone the other moments leading up to and following his birth.

 I know there was joy too and good moments to look back on. We have a video of him crying immediately after birth. Cry crying. Not just letting out one little cry like Marcellus did. Ethan really cried. And there was joy.

But overall the days leading up to and the day of his birth are dark and heavy for me. And I hate that. I hate that so much.

Marcellus, even though you had to die I am thankful that we were not aware of that the day you were born. I am so thankful that we were able to experience your birthday overall as a joyous day. Oh baby, how I remember so vividly when you were born and you let out that cry, the doctor saying "it's a boy!" The look on Daddy's face as we made eye contact. The intense pride and joy Daddy had when he came back to show me your picture telling me how good you looked and how you held his finger. So many beautiful moments. Although scary, your birth will always remain a beautiful day in my memory. I love you so much my squirmy wormy. I can't believe your 4th birthday is coming up so quickly. I wish you were here. Oh how I wish you were here. xoxox

Thursday, October 15, 2015

All over a bowl of cereal

Grief can make you feel crazy. It can make you feel irrational. It can make little things turn into big things. And for me right now that "thing" is a bowl of cereal.

We typically don't have cereal in our house. We're more of an eggs, oatmeal, pancakes, waffles type of family. But with being pregnant and needing to snack and eat smaller amounts of food more often I have turned to cereal. Mike typically does most of the grocery shopping, so on one of his recent trips I requested he pick up a box of cereal. My only request was nothing too sugary.

So, the other night I went to the cupboard to pour myself a bowl as a bedtime snack. But when I opened to cupboard door I froze. He bought that cereal...the cereal...Kashi Cinnamon Harvest.

What's the big deal about that cereal you ask? Well here is a quote from Marcellus's birth story

I was restless and couldn’t get back to sleep. When I realized I was hungry I just decided to get out of bed and get something to eat around 4:40am. I left Daddy sleeping and went downstairs. I got a big glass of water and a bowl of cereal. I still thought I was just having a few BH contractions. After I finished my cereal I tried drinking lots of water and lying on my left side.
 The cereal mentioned was Cinnamon Harvest, one of my favorites at the time. And 4:40am on October 28th, 2011 is the last time I have had a bowl of it. It is the last thing I ate before he was born. Every time I think of his birth story I think of how I thought I was just hungry. That a bowl of cereal could make what I was feeling go away. And almost 4 years later I have not been able to bring myself to pour a bowl of that (delicious) cereal.

I guess at first it was maybe too triggering for me. Too triggering to do something I did in the hours before he was born. Too likely to cause flashbacks to the start of my recognition of being in labor with him. And maybe I'm still worried about that. Maybe I am still worried I will be emotionally triggered by eating the same cereal I did that morning.

But I think the "fear" of having a bowl of Cinnamon Harvest has evolved. Right now being pregnant there's that irrational thinking that if I do something I did while in labor with Marcellus maybe I would end up in labor with Baby Cranberry. Crazy, I know. I do. I know that sounds absolutely fricken crazy. A bowl of cereal can't send me into labor. I was most likely already in labor with Marcellus that morning when I poured myself that bowl of cereal. But grief is crazy like that.

When I really think about it though, at this place that I am in almost 4 years later...I'm not so sure it's about being a trigger or a flashback anymore (although I'm sure that would depend on the day). I think it is now something I see as a way to honor Marcellus. To keep that cereal to be "his" cereal. To have it be something I won't ever do again since the day he was born. To have some would be like betraying him. If I were to be okay with pouring a bowl of that cereal, would that mean I am not grieving him enough?

I don't know if I'll eat it. I've been going back and forth for awhile now. I think it's been in the cupboard for well over a week. Mike didn't realize it when he bought it. How could he. He wasn't up that morning with me when I ate it. I don't hold it against him in any way for buying it. I just honestly don't know what to do about it. Do I have some? Do we donate it and I stick with never having it every again? How will I feel if I do decide to have some?

It's so confusing. And all over a damn bowl of cereal.

Marcellus, I'm sure this seems absolutely ridiculous to some people. It's just a bowl of cereal, right?! But for almost 4 years that bowl of cereal has represented the start of labor with you. It marked the hours just before you were born. And now that that same kind of cereal is sitting in our cupboard, I don't know what to do about it. The back and forth. I don't want to betray you. To have that bowl of cereal would mean it's no longer special to just you. I will have turned it into just any other cereal. Am I crazy to be making such a big deal out of a bowl of cereal? It's just there's not much on this earth that is yours, that is special just to you. I love you right up to the moon and back my sweet boy! xoxox.

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.