Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A year ago: October 31st, 2011

Of course everyone knows today is Halloween. The best Halloween of my life was spent without costumes, without crazy makeup, without scary movies, without black and orange, and without candy (oh never mind that, there was candy, Mike made sure of it!). It was spent with beeping monitors, scrub ins, pumping, and most importantly being with my baby boy. And even though Marcellus's first (and only) Halloween was last year, this year would have been the first Halloween at home. The first Halloween we could have dressed him up. I wonder what costume we would have gotten for him. We probably would have dressed him up like a little pumpkin and look back at his time in the NICU wearing his pumpkin hat. We probably would have even taken him up there to show him off to the nurses we had.

A year ago today: Monday, October 31, 2011
Marcellus was 3 days old and that night he finally got to meet his grandma and his auntie. They literally drove straight from MN to the hospital without stopping. 

I have previously written some of these memories out. Here's what I wrote to Marcellus when he would have been about 5 months old.

Dear Marcellus,
Happy Halloween! Daddy brought an orange bucket and put candy in it for the nurses. He actually gave it to them over the weekend, but made sure they had enough for Halloween. He got one for both my nurses and your nurses.  Paul made you a jack-o-lantern that I put in your “room”. Tawny brought it to you when she visited the day before.

I don’t remember when Daddy got back to the hospital, but it was sometime in the morning. I was still working on getting milk from my right breast. It was really engorged and hurt, but I was determined to get that milk flowing for you. 

We spent the whole morning with you. I k-cared you. Love it. Always loved k-caring with you. My favorite thing to do. I wasn’t wearing the best shirt for it. It smushed you.  You cried some I think because you were uncomfortable. I’m sorry you were uncomfortable, but it was kind of nice to hear you cry. You rarely cried and to mommy it was a beautiful sound. Daddy was being silly that day and embarrassing the both of us. You have such a very silly Daddy. We had fun being in the NICU with you though. We were able to laugh and joke and just enjoy being with you. 

You kind of looked like a goober this day. I don’t know why, but you had your mouth hung open and drooling most of the day. We were kind of making fun of and mocking you. But don’t worry baby boy, it was all in love. You were still on the billi lights this day, but I made sure to take your shades off when I held you. Even though your eyes weren’t open yet, I had to see as much of your little (gooberish) face that I could. 

Holding you must have been great for my milk, because right after I held you the milk was flowing! I fixed that annoying right boob. It was a milk maker now (but still not as good as the left one, that was my best one). 

Daddy and I both spent the afternoon with you as well. Grandma, Auntie Katie, and Cousin Nolan were on their way. This was one of the last days for awhile it was just going to be just Daddy and me there.  I don’t remember all the details of being there that afternoon with you. I just know we would sit and stare at you. There’s a video of me just sitting next to your isolette, not even really doing much of anything. But looking at you. You had the hiccups that day. Daddy got them on video. You had the hiccups a lot. I would feel bad for you. Did they bother you? The last couple of weeks in utero you had the hiccups a lot too. I wonder why.

Later that evening is when Grandma, Auntie Kate, and Nolan arrived! They drove straight through from MN to come see you. They came to my room first. I think they may have gotten there during shift change. It was good to see them and I was getting excited to show you off to them. 

Around 8pm I took Grandma to meet you. She was really excited and nervous to see you. She was nervous to see you hooked up to everything. I got it on video. I was so excited to introduce her to you and show you off. I wanted her to walk around your corner and just exclaim “oh he’s so beautiful!” but she was actually really quiet. She was just taking you in and in awe of you. 

I'm pretty sure this is Grandma's hand you're holding. It's hard to tell though because Mommy has hands just like Grandma's. Just like your hands are just like Daddy's. You were under the billi lights here for jaundice, that's why you're rocking the shades. You also have what we called the "goober" look going on. Mouth hung open and drooling all over the place. Don't worry baby boy, we think you're just as beautiful as always even if you were looking like a goob! 
I must have taken Auntie Katie in next to meet you. I don’t remember so much of that though if I did. I should get them to write down how they felt seeing you for the first time. I know they both love you so so very much and are so very thankful to have gotten to meet you. They didn’t stay too long that night because they had literally driven for almost 24 hours. They needed to sleep. So they got a hotel room just down the road. This was the last night I was in the hospital so they wanted to have a place close by that we could all go to. 

After they left, Daddy and I went back to spend time with you. They had talked to us about putting in a PICC line. They told us there was little risk to doing it and that they do the process all the time. I was nervous about signing the paper for it. I didn’t know if it was what was best for you. Daddy and I talked about it, but we ultimately decided to. There would have been risks if you didn’t do it because they would have had to move your IV around all the time. Plus you had a low lying line in your umbilical cord. It wasn’t in there very well, so they had to move it. Did we make the best decision? It was our first big decision for you as your parents (well after the c-section). 

After Grandma, Auntie, and Nolan left they were going to try to do it. They had us sign two forms. Just in case it didn’t work the first time (which is apparently common).  Daddy was trying to stay at the hospital with me until we could go see you and tell you goodnight and sing to you. We didn’t think your PICC line was going to take that long. Neither did they.  I told them to call my room when we could come back down. Forever seemed to go by and they didn’t. I called them multiple times to check on how you were doing. They tried to put it in your arm first. Maybe even in both arms, but for some reason it didn’t work. Eventually they put it in your left leg. It took a really long time though and Daddy just couldn’t stay awake. He had to go home to let Perk out and went there to sleep. 

I was checking out the next day. I stayed extra long in the hospital just so I could be close to you. So I could come visit you in the middle of the night (which I did…shh, Daddy wanted me to be resting and sleeping but most of the nights I came to see you in the middle of the night). That night I was so impatient waiting for them to put your PICC line in. It was the last night I was going to be able to just mosey on down the hall and come see you. 

I don’t remember the exact time I got there, but it was late. After 1am for sure. Maybe 1:30am or so. I got to kangaroo care with you. Daddy was going to, but since he had to go home I got to twice in one day. I was excited about that! Tammy was your nurse that night. It was the first time she was. She has a son that died, he had Potter's syndrome. I never thought I would have that in common with her. 

It was so quiet in the NICU that late at night. It was dark and we were cozy all snuggled up. I talked to you a lot that night. I told you about how I had to leave the hospital the next day and I just started crying. I couldn’t imagine being away from you like that. Not being able to just go down the hall to see you. Having to spend the whole night away from you. Tammy heard me crying and asked if I was okay. I told her about that and she comforted me. It was going to be okay. 

I treasure those moments with you. Just you and me my sweet baby boy. Mommy and Marcellus.  I love you! xoxox

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A year ago: October 30th, 2011

One thing I have dreaded about Marcellus's birthday coming and going is how short the 12 days between October 28th and November 9th will seem. And here we are, already two days past his birthday. Last year at this time he was 2 days old.

A year ago: Sunday, October 30th, 2011
Marcellus was 2 days old. He had a busy day that day. Lots of visitors, k-care with Mommy in the morning, k-care with Daddy that night. His Grandma, Auntie, and cousin left MN that afternoon for the long drive to NC. They just hopped in the van and started driving, didn't even print off directions. We all couldn't wait for them to get there and to meet Marcellus, but it wouldn't be until the next day.

Dear Marcellus, 

Everyday you were here, was special in it's own way. Here are some of my memories from a year ago, when you were two days old.

Before Daddy got back that morning Mommy went to the NICU to see you. Plus I had to bring your milk to the nurses. Although I wished Daddy could have been there all the time, I did love to visit you just me. Mommy and Marcellus time. 

Daddy got back the hospital that morning, I think maybe around 8am or so. After he got back we went to the NICU. We were there for your 9am touch time.  I got to hold you again that morning. It felt just as good as the first time I held you. Daddy was in the NICU with us when I held you. He took video and pictures. He talked to us and read to us. 
Here you are getting your bubble care during your 9am touch time. And not liking your head massage!
 You had a handful of visitors that day. You were one popular little boy! Daddy left to run errands. He got a lot of things for Mommy. Mommy needed nursing shirts and comfy clothes. While he was gone Dr. Fuentes, my PhD advisor, came to meet you. She brought you flowers and a balloon. I took her to see you. She just kept commenting on how you were such a beautiful baby. 

Audrey also came that afternoon. She already got to meet you the day you were born, but wanted to see how you were doing. You were under the billi lights by then. You were just a little jaundiced. She was looking forward to when you got bigger and bouncing you in her lap. You would have loved Audrey. She did a lot for us. 

Marggie and Pedro (and Fabian and Pedro’s mom) came to see you that day too. They brought Mommy and Daddy lunch from Panera. That was really nice of them. We visited for a little bit in my hospital room and told them about what all happened when you were born and all about you. They brought you a gift too. I think one outfit must have been Fabian’s. We were so excited that you guys were going to be friends. After a little bit, we took them to see you. I took Marggie first and then Daddy took Pedro. Daddy and Pedro talked a lot about what it means to be a father and the responsibilities of a family. Daddy was excited to show you off to another daddy. 

That evening Beth and Jeff came and brought us a homemade dinner. It was nice to have something homemade.  Beth got to meet you the night before, but Jeff couldn’t come because he was working. Daddy was really looking forward to introducing you to Jeff. Jeff was in awe of you. He kept saying how happy Daddy looked as a father and how proud he was of you. Jeff said he hoped someday he could be as proud of his kids as Daddy was of you. When they left the NICU Jeff gave Daddy a big hug. Daddy says he really felt like a daddy at that point and it felt really really good for him to show you off. 

Mommy was having troubles with pumping that night. I think my milk was coming in and it made it painful and difficult to pump. I worked hard to get it right. I didn’t want to get an infection or plugged up and ruin my chances of getting milk for you. I hate that I spent so much time on that with the nurse rather than just going to see you. I was in the room way too much. WAY too much. I’m sorry I didn’t come see you more.
That night Daddy got to hold you for the first time. He kept telling me that he didn’t need to hold you. That I could have all the k-care times. But I knew he needed to hold you and you need him to hold you too. You needed your time with Daddy. I was SO excited for him to get to hold you. I’ll let Daddy say more about what he was like for him to hold you that first time, but I knew he was excited. He didn’t even really seem nervous at all. I thought maybe he would be because Daddy hasn’t held too many babies. And with how small you were. But he was a natural; he was definitely in daddy-mode. It warmed my heart so much to see my boys together. To see you snuggled up on your daddy’s chest. You instantly relaxed, you knew where you were. You knew you were with your daddy.  

Your first time snuggling with Daddy! The pictures a little blurry, because Mommy is not a good photographer. I feel bad that a lot of your pictures with Daddy are blurry. I chose to post this one though because you two are rocking out. You made the rocker sign while Daddy was holding you and we thought it was pretty funny, especially since you were already rocking the shades from being under the billi lights that day. 

Here's what Daddy said about what it was like to hold you that night, "Holding you for the first time was the best experience I was surprised to have.   I did not know that you would be with me that night.  It was a surprise.  So when they sat me down in the chair and got you ready to come to me I was so nervous and excited.  After what seemed to take forever I saw you come towards me and they placed me on my chest.  I remember how warm you felt on my chest and how comfortable you made me.  During all the delivery and hospitalization and taking care of Mommy I was so razzled and my head was spinning, but when you melted into me all that fell away.  It was just you and I and we stayed as father and son, that experience repeated throughout all the K-cares.   K-caring you was such a good time for daddy because no matter how busy I was you made it all better."  

Not only did I love holding you baby boy, but I absolutely loved seeing your Daddy hold you. You two were so perfect together and I am so lucky to have you both. Miss and love you my little rocker boy! xoxox

Monday, October 29, 2012

A year ago: October 29th, 2011

Well, this is the first October 29th out of three pregnancies that were supposed to go over the 29th that I'm still pregnant. Might seem like a complete irrational fear, but after having Angela born on October 28th, 2002 (due November 20th) and Marcellus born October 28th, 2011 (due January 15th), I was so worried that something about October 28th caused my body to go into labor. But here I am 20 weeks 3 days pregnant with Marcellus's baby brother/sister. This in itself is quite a milestone. Today also marks one year since I held Marcellus for the first time. That of course is my biggest memory from a year ago today.

A year ago today: Saturday, October 29th, 2011
Marcellus was one day old. The following is taken from my blog post "Holding him" written on December 29th, 2011. I added the pictures for today's post.
Mike and I visited Marcellus around 5am or so. He was still on the ventilator. Mike then went home to take care of the dog, catch a nap (he really struggled with the lack of sleep. Daddies don't get all the fun hormones that mommies get), and go buy a video camera (so glad he did that!). While he was gone I tried to get some rest. I still wasn't able to walk and also had to deal with all the hospital stuff. Later that morning I went back to see Marcellus while Daddy was running his errands. I think I even walked there. No more ventilator!

Marcellus at 1 day old. No more ventil

Momma was so proud of her boy. He moved on to the bubble CPAP. I sent a pic to Daddy and he was super excited too. Not only did this show progress in his breathing, but also meant I could finally hold my baby! He could only be out for about an hour at that time, so I opted to wait until Daddy was back. I sat with him and told him how excited I was to get to hold him. Oh I couldn't wait. Back at my room for whatever reason, I had to wait on the nurse for something. I can't remember what it was, but it made me cry. Didn't the realize they were keeping me from seeing my baby? Finally the nurse came and did whatever she needed to do and Daddy was back with the camera. We were going to get to have a video of my first time holding Marcellus. We were both beyond excited. Before I held Marcellus it was time for a diaper change. Daddy changed his first diaper that day! I have never seen anyone more excited to change a diaper. And here's a secret...Daddy changed way more diapers than Mommy did. After the diaper change and Marcellus's assessment we were ready for some kangaroo care. Daddy had grabbed the camera and the charger (in case the batteries weren't charged enough) and we headed to the NICU. Well, silly Daddy didn't even put the batteries in the camera. He had to have it plugged in. Meaning we don't have a good angle for the video. Oh well because I can remember everything from my angle, the best angle. I remember the nurse lifting Marcellus out of his isollete. He squeaked on his way to me and then she placed him on my chest. The best feeling in the world! He instantly just melted into me. He knew he was with his momma. We got cozied in and life was perfect. Daddy went to get a book to read to us. He picked "Guess How Much I Love You". At the time we didn't know how important that book would become to us. It will forever be Marcellus's story.

Our first family photo taken during my first k-care. I love my family!

Later that night Marcellus got his first visitors. They came during shift change (when we weren't allowed in the NICU) so we visited for a little bit. Then we all went down to the NICU. Only two people can be at a baby's bedside at a time, so Daddy took each of our visitors (3 total) in to see Marcellus one at a time. He was such a proud daddy showing off his son. Each time he came out that door with a huge smile on his face ready to show Marcellus off to the next person.

After they left we spent more time together just a family. We liked being there at night. It was so much quieter and calmer than during the day. We just sat next to Marcellus and talked to him, he held our fingers, and we were there for him. He knew he was with his mommy and daddy.

We have a video from that night at around 10pm. It shows us doing what we did whenever we were there. Just sitting with him. Admiring him. Touching him. In the video I am just sitting there holding his hand while taking to him. That's what we did the most since he couldn't be out of his isolette for too long, especially when he was still on the bubble CPAP. The video itself is pretty funny. I appear to be drunk. Really I'm still drugged up a bit from the c-section and totally sleep deprived on top of all the fun Mommy hormones. It was our first experience with a bubble CPAP and in the video we call it a "CPAP bubbular." It kind of makes me chuckle. I would give anything to sit next to that isolette again. I am aching for my baby boy right now. Aching to touch him. To physically feel him. I have the memory of that and yes, at times I can still feel it. But it's not the same. Nothing will be the same as it was. Nothing will ever be the same.

Marcellus, what an amazing day we had a year ago! You made Mommy and Daddy so proud by going off the ventilator. At first they said you would probably be on it for a week, but you weren't even on it for 24 hours. What a strong boy! Oh and to hold you my sweet boy. To hold you for that first time. To feel your skin on mine as we snuggled up. To feel you melt right into me. Mother and son, together. The most incredible feeling I've ever had. Some day I'll hold you again, some day baby boy we will be together. For now, I long for you. I ache for those moments. I hold onto those memories. I miss you with my whole being. I miss everything about you. I even miss those annoying NICU sounds. 

We read you your story yesterday for your birthday. That story Daddy picked out. It's forever your special story. We will always read it to you. Your little brothers and sisters will know it's your special story and I hope the ask to read it when they are thinking of you. 

As you probably know, it is a very special little girl's first birthday today. Her name is Cassie and I know her mommy. I also feel like I know her through her mommy just as I hope her mommy feels like she knows you through me. Make sure to give Cassie a big birthday hug from everyone down here on earth. I know her Mommy and Daddy are missing her just as much as we miss you.

I love you right up to the moon and back! xoxox.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A year ago today: October 28th, 2011

A year ago today: Friday, October 28th, 2011
I was 28 weeks 5 days pregnant, but not for long. A year ago today, I gave birth to the most beautiful baby boy at 10:01am. It was very unexpected and we were so scared, yet so happy at the same time. You can read the details of Marcellus's birth story here. Here's a shortened version: He was born via c-section because he was breech. He weighted 3 lbs 2 oz and was 16 inches long. He let out  a cry as soon as he was born letting his momma know he was okay. Daddy got to go with him right away. I ended the post about his birth story at the point where I was in recovery and had called my mom and sister to tell them our baby boy had unexpectedly arrived. I thought I had written down the rest of the memories from that day. In fact I am fairly certain I did. I don't know if I posted anything on my blog (and a quick search didn't bring anything up), but I thought I had written them in word document when I was going back and writing memories 6 months ago. For some reason, I can't find it though. That really bothers me. Especially since while the memories of that day are amazing, they're not as clear as some of the others. I was super drugged up from having a c-section after all and I'm sure in some shock that our baby boy had just been born. But I'll do my best to recollect them now. When recounting things about Marcellus though I like to write it to him. To tell him the story of his life.

Dear Marcellus,
After Mommy called Grandma and Auntie Katie, it wasn't too long before we could leave recovery. We got settled into my hospital room. You were being taken care of in the NICU. Daddy and Audrey were with me making sure that I was okay. We talked about the craziness of what had just happened for a little while. Because we took an ambulance to the hospital we didn't have our car there. And because it was so unexpected we didn't have anything with us. Honestly, I went with only a t-shirt and sweats shirt on and Daddy grabbed my phone and wallet. So, Daddy needed to go home to get me some stuff. I told him when he left he should go check on you first and show you off to Audrey. She wanted to make sure I was okay with her seeing you before me. I still couldn't go to the NICU because I couldn't get into a wheelchair yet. I told her I was. Even without having seen you in person yet myself, I was a proud momma and wanted to show you off! Daddy called me after they stopped at the NICU to tell me how you were doing. You were on the ventilator now and had to be given muscle relaxers, so you weren't active at all but were doing well.

While Daddy was gone I talked to the nurse about starting to pump. I figured if I couldn't see you yet, I should get started on doing something for you. So I did. They got me my hospital grade pump and my nurse helped me get started. For that first pumping I got 1 mL, I was so excited to get that little bit for you. Every little bit counts they told me. You weren't taking breast milk yet because you were on the ventilator. But it was so important to me to get that started right away.

At some point the neonatologist that was there when you were born, Dr. P, came in to update me on how you were doing. He told me about the ventilator and about the muscle relaxers, so not to be alarmed if you weren't alert and moving when I went to see you. I was going to get to see you soon because I had been getting feeling back in my legs. Just needed to wait for Daddy to get back.

It wasn't long before he came with a bunch of stuff for me. I don't think I paid much attention to it. I was just so antsy to get to see you! It was about 3pm and I had to wait 5 hours from the time you were born to go see you. We got me into that wheelchair and headed down the hallway to the NICU. Daddy rolled me right up to your isolette and I just stared at you. I was in awe at how beautiful you were. I don't remember being intimidated by any of the NICU gadgets. The ventilator, the wires, the monitors. Yes, I would have preferred that you didn't need them. But you did and so I knew they were there to help you. Plus I didn't even see all that. I only saw my perfect little baby boy.

Mommy's first time seeing you!
You still didn't have a name at that point. 5 hours without a name! They had a white board by your isolette and it just said "Baby Boy." I sat with you and put my hand in and touched you for a bit. Then I looked at Daddy and said, "His name is Marcellus." And so it was then we named you Marcellus Robert. A name that I think fits everything about you. Your beautiful lovely precious name, named after your great-grandpa.

I don't know how long we stayed. I could have sat there forever, but I was recovering from surgery. I had to be careful not to overdo it. Back in the room is when we made a lot of phone calls to let everyone know about your surprise arrival. Every time I told someone that you were born I felt like I had to comfort them. Everyone was so worried, but for some reason I was not. You were doing so well! They (doctors and nurses) kept saying how good you were doing, how strong you were. I didn't want people to be worried and scared that you were here. I wanted them to be just as excited as I was. You were here and you were absolutely amazing!

We did go back to the NICU that evening. And by the time we went you were much more alert as the medicine had wore off. You held onto my finger. It's like you just knew I was there. We talked to you, we touched you. Mommy and Daddy were so in awe of you. You looked you over, looked at your fingers at your toes. Everything about you. One thing we didn't get to see were your eyes. They were still fused shut. Babies usually open their eyes at about 26 weeks in utero, but for some reason yours were still shut. While it was rare, it was nothing to be alarmed about. We just had to be patient and wait to get to see your eyes. You didn't need to be able to see to know we were there though. You just knew.

Here you were more alert that night. Holding on to Mommy's finger for the first time!
See your arm up in the picture? You were already being a squirmy wormy. I can just remember the feelings I had sitting in the wheelchair right up against your isolette. We were all together. Even if you couldn't be in my room with us, we were a family. The three of us together. You gave us that Marcellus. You gave us that amazing feeling of family. I know I fell more in love with your Daddy that day because he helped give me you. We became closer because you were born and you brought us to know the amazing feeling of having our own family.

After leaving the NICU later that night we tired to get some sleep. Daddy stayed with me. I had to pump every 2-3 hours to get my milk supply to come in. I set my alarm, but really I didn't sleep that much. Because I couldn't walk yet, Daddy had to get up and clean my pump supplies after every time. He did such a good job and never complained about it at all. You have a great Daddy! He would do anything for us.

You went through a lot in your first day of life baby boy. Being born too early, going to the NICU, having a ventilator and IV put in, being hooked up to monitors and having to be away from your Mommy and Daddy. I wish your first day could have been different. I do still wish your first day would have been much closer to your due date of January 15th. I wish you had been full term and not needed to be in the NICU. Yes, I wish all those things, but I am still forever grateful for that day. Grateful you were born as healthy as you could be for your gestation. Grateful Daddy got to go with you right away. Grateful for the cry you let out in the delivery room. Grateful that I was able to start taking care of you by pumping for you. Grateful for every second I got to see you in the NICU that day. Grateful for you. Grateful for the start of our family.

October 28th, 2011 will always be a beautiful day in my memory. It will always be the day we were blessed with you coming into this world. Thank you for everything you have given us sweet boy. Thank you for being our son. Today we celebrated that. We celebrated you! You changed the world forever a year ago today. You brought us so much love and joy that we didn't know we could have. Daddy and I were so on top of the world. We love you forever and always. We just wish you were here to celebrate in person. We wish we could hug you and kiss you and give you presents today. We wish you were here everyday.

One year old. You would be one year old. What would it be like to have you here? I hate that I don't know. I don't know what you are like. I have an idea. But your hair, your eyes, I don't know what they'd look like. Would you be a trouble maker? I have a feeling you would be. But I also think you'd love to snuggle. I would give anything to snuggle you up and smell your hair as we wrapped up your first birthday. I miss you my love. I miss you so so so very much! Happy first birthday my squirmy wormy!!! xoxox.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A year ago: October 27th, 2011

A year ago today: Thursday, October 27th, 2011
I was 28 weeks 4 days pregnant. In the post about my 26th I wrote how I wasn't feeling well that day. Well after sleeping about 12 hours that night I actually woke up on Thursday feeling the best I had in awhile. I had a good amount of energy. I went to campus to get a lot of work done. I actually even remember what I worked on that day with regards to my research. I will spare you the details on that though. I just know I finally felt like maybe I would be getting somewhere. I never knew I wouldn't be coming back to it the next day.

I also prepared for teaching the next day. At the time I was the TA for a hybrid class, meaning it was part online and part in class. I only taught on Fridays. I had three sections of the class. I made my copies that afternoon before leaving campus and looked through the slides. I set the copies on the edge of my desk to be picked up in the morning before class. They sat in the same spot until about 2 months ago. I just couldn't bring myself to move them for quite some time.

Mike was at work that night and I had plans to go to a good friend's house for dinner. Her sister and nephew were visiting and she wanted to meet them and I wanted to meet them too. Before I headed over I took the dog out to potty. If you know Perk at all, you know that while he's a great, lovey, wonderful dog he can be pretty high energy and that he's reactive to other dogs. We use a gentle leader (head harness) with him when taking him out for walks. It helps a lot. Well that night I was in a hurry and took him out with just a regular leash. He was dark and I didn't think we'd have to worry about other dogs. Well I was wrong. We start coming back up toward our house. We live in a building of four town homes with a shared parking. As Perk and I got back into the parking area there was an off leash dog. That dog caught us both of guard and neither of us realized it was there until we were pretty close. Perk started whining and pulling toward the dog really hard. It took everything I had to keep my balance and not let him pull me over. In fact, I couldn't even keep walking toward the house I only could keep us in a stand still. The dog belonged to a guy in the building next to ours. So not only did he have is dog off leash, but he was letting his dog wander without him. Oh it made me so mad! Leash laws are not just so your dogs don't run away. They are there for a reason. My dog is a rescue dog. We don't know what's in his past that would make him be reactive to other dogs. We didn't have him when he was a puppy to make sure he was socialized properly. We work with him now and do the best that we can. He is a great dog and we don't know what we'd do without him. But people who let their dogs be off leash and wander away not keeping an eye on them really set Perk back and make things even more difficult.

Finally the owner came over and got his dog, not really saying much of anything. I got Perk in his kennel and left for my friends house. That encounter really had me stressed out. I remember being worked up about it the whole drive. When I got to my friend's house I had to vent about it. I've since wondered over and over again if the physical exertion I needed to hold Perk that night or the stress it gave me had a connection to Marcellus being born the next day. I've even wanted to go up to that neighbor and tell him what happened. That my baby was born the next day after having his dog come up to mine. I've asked many medical professionals about it and while they've all said, no that wouldn't cause labor I can't help but think it is related though. That if only that dog hadn't been out there that night, if only I had put the gentle leader on Perk, if only if only then my baby wouldn't have been born. Part of it is I'm looking for a reason why I went into labor. I have no reason why.

After I settled down from that, we had a good time just relaxing and chatting at my friend's house. Her sister was also pregnant at the time. I can't remember exactly how far along she was, but she had a healthy baby girl born in April (I think it was April at least). I sat in one of the recliners while we chatted. I remember sitting there with my growing belly. Nothing about that night gave me suspicion that I would be in labor the next morning. I remember texting my brother. It was his 23rd birthday. He text me back saying something about how he couldn't talk. I told him it was fine because I was at a friend's anyway and we'd talk that weekend or something.

And that means that today is my brother's 24th birthday. His first birthday since his nephew has been gone. He never got to meet Marcellus. He did come see him in the funeral home though. I really haven't had much of a chance in the last year to talk to my brother. But I do remember him calling me the night of Marcellus's death. All he did was cry on the phone with me. Sometimes I wonder how he feels having Marcellus's birthday be the day after his. Is my brother thinking about how tomorrow is his nephew's first birthday while he's celebrating his 24th? I don't know, but I do know he loves and misses Marcellus. And that's what matters.

I went to bed that night like I did ever other night. Trying to get comfortable in my big pregnancy pillow. Trying to make sure I would stay sleeping on my side and not wake up on my back. Feeling my baby kick like crazy as I was trying to get comfortable. Loving every movement, but also getting a little annoyed because I just wanted to sleep. Nothing out of the ordinary, just the regular happens of my 28 week pregnant self.

Marcellus, just one night now stands between us and your first birthday. Today was rough baby boy, really really rough for Mommy. Lots of anxiety today. Hopefully I've worked through most of that so we can spend tomorrow celebrating you tomorrow. Celebrating how amazing of a little boy you are! I hope that interaction with the dog isn't something that sent me into labor. I've thought about that a lot. That if I had only avoided having that happen, you wouldn't have come so early. Also, remember that today is your uncle's birthday. Make sure you give his heart a hug because I know you want him to have a good birthday. I know you love him just like he loves you. I wonder if you remember me telling you about him when we were in the NICU. I hope so. Love and miss you sweet baby boy. Tomorrow there will be  a celebration just for you! xoxox

Friday, October 26, 2012

A year ago: October 26th, 2011

I think I'm in a bit of denial about Marcellus's birthday coming up. Only 2 days away...2 days?!? How can that be? It shouldn't come at all. He isn't here to celebrate his own birthday, so it just shouldn't come. The earth should just stop rotating all together. I don't want the 28th to come.

But it's going to come anyway. Doesn't matter what I want. I wanted my boy to live more than anything I've ever wanted before and that didn't happen. So I'll have to find a way to deal. I know I'm not dealing very well right now. There's so much to do before we have people over on Sunday. Yet, I can't make myself do any of it. I wanted to plan something for Marcellus's birthday because I felt like I needed to be doing something to prepare for it. Now that it's coming I don't want to prepare for it. I just want to curl up and do nothing. Yet, I only have two days...well, really a day and a half before the 28th is here. Before it's his first birthday. Before it's Angela's 10th birthday.

And while those are the feelings I'm having today, things were very different a year ago.

A year ago today: Wednesday, October 26th, 2011
I was 28 weeks 3 days pregnant. There's really nothing exciting that stands out from that day. I went to campus to do research. I needed to get a lot done. My weekly meetings with my advisor were on Thursdays, so Wednesdays were my busy days trying to cram in as much as I could. But I didn't feel good that Wednesday. I don't know if I really had anything in particular, but I felt like crap. It was mostly in my head, stuffy, sore throat, and run down. I even started to get a cold sore. I hate to admit I get cold sores, but I do. Have my whole life. I notice that I do often get them in conjunction with feeling a bit sick. I haven't had one since then and I think I'd freak out if I get one this pregnancy. I will connect that to Marcellus being born early.

I emailed my advisor to let her know I wasn't feeling well and if we could cancel our meeting for the week. I actually just went back into my email. Those emails are still there. They're so casual. They're so unassuming. I had no idea. Making plans for future meetings with not only my own advisors, but a visiting researcher in the area I was working in. I can tell in the emails I actually did care about my work a little bit. I did care that I was making progress toward my PhD (I don't know if I've mentioned on here that I'm currently on leave from my program and don't necessarily plan on going back). From my emails I guess I started to not feel well the day before. But I remember that Wednesday I went home and I slept. I got in touch with my advisor early afternoon and as soon as I got home, I took a nap. I remember that I slept a lot. I took a long afternoon nap. Was probably up just long enough to eat and went back to bed at like 8pm for the night. I slept for like 12 hours that night.

Was my sickness because my body was getting ready for labor or was my labor because I was sick? Logically I know they probably aren't even related, but I can't help but connect them. Getting sick and a cold sore just days before my baby boy came into this world too early, coincidence or connected? I will never know.

Thinking of the meetings I had around that time reminds me of something else. My advisor (who is also the head of the department) was working on getting a parental leave policy in place for graduate students. I was helping her with it. The week before I had gathered statements from graduate students at all stages of life (that have children, expecting children, no children) about how a parental leave policy for graduate students would be beneficial.  It passed this spring. Well after Marcellus's death. They wrote about it in a newsletter and included a picture of a fellow graduate student with his wife and son. His son that was born the day after Marcellus died. I should have been in that picture with my husband and son. It should have been us, my family. But my family is not together on earth. My family is separated by something immeasurable.

Marcellus, this sucks. This sucks so bad! Your birthday coming up is bringing up all the "why?" questions again. All the "what ifs." Why were you born so early? What happened to cause me to go into labor? "Idiosyncratic" preterm labor they call it. Like some fancy name is going to help. I'm just missing you baby boy. Missing the time you were here. Missing who you would be now. Missing planning a birthday party for you. I am missing so much. I would give anything to have you here. To have you in my arms. To be chasing you around the house as you got more and more mobile (and we know you would be active! You were from the beginning) . To have to worry about you getting into the dog food. I would give anything and everything for that. I love you squirmy wormy. I love you so very much. xoxox.


I thought about combining this with my "a year ago" post for the day, but I feel like this deserves it's own post.

I currently teach at a local community college. I struggled with whether I should tell my students about Marcellus or not. At first I didn't know if I should tell my students or not. I didn't spring semester when I went back. And it actually came back to hurt me a bit. My reviews were not good and they said things like "She was overwhelmed," "she was disconnected from the students." If my students had known about Marcellus they would have realized those things had nothing to do with my teaching. That yes, I was those things, but it was because my baby had died only months earlier. When October came I could feel some of those things coming back. I could feel it getting hard for me to put on my "teacher face" everyday and pretend I had everything completely under control. With Marcellus's birthday coming up I figured I should tell them. Let them know if I do seem out of it, if my teaching does slip a bit, it's not them. It's not because I don't care about teaching. October also being Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month gave me an introduction into that too. And so a few weeks ago I told them about my boy. I honestly didn't get that strong of a reaction from them. Only a few students said something to me after class. That's not why I was telling them anyway, I wasn't telling them for their sympathy. I just needed to share my boy with them.

Then today, after class three of my students came up to me. The had a pan of cupcakes, but I didn't think anything of it. Just figured they were for someone else. I had also told the class that they could come up to me after class to get their grade to date, so I had a line of students for that. I figured these three students where coming to me for that as well.

But no, those cupcakes were for me! They said they wanted to do something for my son's birthday. The remembered that it was on Sunday and they thought about how it would be hard for me. They all three gave me a hug. It took everything I had not to start bawling my eyes out right there. They also gave me a card. I didn't read it then because I still had another class to teach and didn't want to be crying. I just opened it and want to share the beautiful words three of my wonderful students wrote to me.

"We wanted to take this time to say thank you for sharing your heart breaking story about your baby boy. We are terribly sorry for your loss. Thank you for being such a strong teacher and being with us each and every day that you can. We also would like to take the time to say happy birthday to your son and congrats on your new bundle of joy coming soon. We wish you and your family the best of luck."

"Like (previous student) said, thanks for being here and teaching this wonderful material that is sometimes hard to grasp. But nevertheless, you are AMAZING! It takes a strong woman to do what you are doing. Thanks for everything again."

" 'An angel in the book of earth wrote down my baby's birth, and whispered as she closed the book, 'too beautiful for earth.' '
This can be the only reason for such an amazing boy to leave, for he truly must be amazing with you as his mother. I sat forever thinking of what to write, eventually realizing no words are adequate. All I can say is he will never be forgotten or as loved because he was blessed to have you as a mom. We are thinking of you, him and your family."

I'm just sitting here in awe of this. I had no idea my baby boy and I were impacting these three ladies so much. Each day they come to class and here me lecture about statistics. But each day they come and they see me not only as their instructor, but as a his mommy. I don't know if they remember his name or not, but that doesn't matter. They remember that I told them about him. They remembered his birthday. They remembered. That all means so very much to me. He touched their lives. And I am blessed to be the mommy to such an amazing baby boy. Of course it hurts that he is not here. It will always hurt. But I am still thankful to be his mommy, still thankful I can share him with others. I am still thankful for him. Everyday I thank God for my son (and then curse at Him for taking him away...but that's a whole other thing).

So thank you dear students. Thank you for remembering him. Thank you for honoring him. Thank you for celebrating him. Thank you for keeping us in your thoughts and for showing me such compassion. You three are truly amazing!

Marcellus, Momma had some yummy cupcakes today that were made just for you! Made by three of my students who only just know a very little about your life. But that little bit, just knowing of your existence is enough to have touched them. You've touched them my love, just as you have touched the lives of many. You make me so proud! Love always sweet boy! xoxox

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A year ago: October 24th, 2011

Alright, this is the last day I should be behind. I have nothing to write about for October 25th, so tomorrow I should be writing about the 26th on the 26th.

I can't believe how close we are getting to Marcellus's birthday. I really just want time to stop. I don't know if I'm ready for his first birthday to come and go, the first anniversary of his death to pass. I'm not ready for that. I don't want it to happen. I don't want to be that far from him. I guess all I can do is continue to look back on the memories I have. To read about the other days I've written about click below.
October 21st, 2011
October 22nd, 2011
October 23rd, 2011

A year ago yesterday: Monday, October 24th, 2011
I was 28 weeks 1 day pregnant. Mike must have had that day off. He dropped me off on campus though, so I could get some work done. I wasn't taking any classes, but was working on my research. Trying really hard to get as much done as I could during fall semester since Marcellus was due January 15th.

We had made plans to go to the new Buy Buy Baby that had just opened up in the area and register. I also needed to get Angela's gift off in the mail. I had written it the night before, but hadn't sent it out yet. The plan was for us to stop at the post office closest to campus and mail it off before going to register. Mike picked me up around 4:30 and we went to the post office. It was closed. I was so upset. I was already so behind in getting her gift out that waiting another day was not possible to me. We found out another post office not too far away was open until 5pm, and we headed there. As I'm writing this I am getting pictures in my head, images of that day. I can picture us standing in line at the post office. I can feel how the line was moving. It was slow, but not painfully so. I can remember that they opened up a back counter at the post office and we got to go there.

Afterward we headed to Buy Buy Baby, where we parked in expectant mother parking. Mike wasn't going to, he told me that I could walk. But I said this is a time I get to utilize that parking, so we were going to. We went in to the brand new store. I haven't been in there since, but I can still remember exactly what it looks like. We sat down at the registry desk and the lady got us set up with our scanner gun. Of course, they give you this long list of things to make sure you register for. We just ended up going through the entire store to make sure there was nothing that we missed.

I have pictures of that too. Making sure we looked at every little thing. I even remember registering for plain white onesies. I remember going back and forth, back and forth, on a changing pad cover. Should we register for organic, or regular? The infant bathtub, did we want one that folds flat for storage...or the one my sister had for my nephew that she really liked? We even registered for the folds flat one, then decided we wanted the other one, so had to delete it and add the one we wanted. I remember sitting on the floor near the diaper bags for some reason. I know I was tired, but I also think most of the diaper bags were low to the ground. I couldn't get down that low so I just sat on the floor. My mom called me then and I answered. I'm sure I had questions about some of the things we were registering for and wanted to get her advice. At the strollers we went back and forth again. We had talked about just getting one of those stroller frames that the car seat snaps into or a travel system. But then we also talked a lot about how we planned to baby-wear and probably wouldn't use the car seat/stroller combo as much as other people. We even had a worker get down one of the strollers we were looking at. I think it was the City Mini, we registered for that one. Before looking at the car seats I already knew what 3 I wanted to check out. I wanted to get one of the car seats that you could use up to a higher weight. So we looked at the Graco Snugride 35, Chico Keyfit 30 and Britax B Safe. After looking them all over, I decided the Britax B Safe is the one I really wanted and so we registered for that.

That was about it for the big items, but before we finished we looked through some of the smaller items toward the front. I remember looking at baby books. I wanted to get one that was for more than a year. I think we registered for one that was for 3 years. There were no baby books there for 12 days. It never crossed my mind that I wouldn't have more than 3 years of memories to document. We also registered for a belly cast. I really wanted to do one. I have no idea what we would have done with it afterward, but I thought it would be awesome to do. To have a physical visual of my belly. I was going to buy one for myself if no one got it for us for our baby shower. I didn't know I would have that belly for only 4 more days. I should have bought it that night and done it.

One last thing I remember looking at were the picture frames. One stood out to me. It simply said, "Cousins." Marcellus's cousin was born in early July of 2011. They were supposed to be about 6 months apart. My sister and I had visions of our children growing up together, being friends, and getting into tons of mischief. I can't remember if we registered for that frame or not, but I planned on getting one for ourselves and for my nephew. He and Marcellus ended up being just under 4 months apart and I still planned on getting that frame. In fact, I've thought about it to this day. But they will never have a picture together. Instead we would have to put two pictures in side-by-side. The one of my nephew would be able to be changed out as he grew. Marcellus's would always be the same.

We both enjoyed registering. Thinking of all the fun cool things we might get for our baby. After we left Buy Buy Baby we went to Office Max. I wanted Mike to look at the chairs I had checked out the day before. I still had the tags I grabbed, so I could remember which ones I liked without having to sit in them all again. He went through my options and it came down to two. Of course our favorite one being a little bit more money than we were hoping to spend. But we decided to go for it, especially since we would no longer be getting a glider. It would be worth the extra money to have a really nice desk chair.

When we got home, we had to put it together. Mike took it upstairs to the 2nd bedroom and we started working on it. Our new desk already set up the night before and now our new chair. Even though those items were not directly baby related, they were a way for us to get ready for our baby. We had finally started to really prepare to bring the new life I was carrying home. Or so we thought we'd be bring him home. Instead he never saw that room. He didn't know the things we were doing to get ready. He didn't know we still had a long way to go. His only room was in the NICU.

I don't know if it is ironic or what that we started really getting ready for Marcellus right before he was born. I don't know what to make of that. If it was my body signally something to me that my baby was going to come soon and so I needed to prepare, then it seems quite cruel to me that he wouldn't get to every come home to those preparations. Actually everything about his death is cruel. All the plans, hope, and dreams snatched right out from under you.

Marcellus, I wonder what things off of our registery we would have gotten for you. What fun toys would you have gotten? How would we have finally gotten the spare bedroom set up for you? I know it wasn't going to be just your room and you would have been in Mommy and Daddy's room for quite awhile, but it was still going to be your nursery. I even had a wall decal picked out. Owls. That's why owls are so special. Since we were getting everything else for that room, I was really really close to ordering that decal for you. I had even already requested color samples, so I could make sure the colors were what I wanted before ordering. Those are in with your stuff. They are part of what we did to prepare for you. I never got to order that decal though. And now owls are your thing. Beamy will have something different. I don't know what that will be yet. I like thinking about how I was preparing for you, but at the same time I constantly wonder if I somehow knew you were coming so soon. And if I did, even subconsciously, then why couldn't I do something about it? Why didn't I get any warning? I would have done everything I could to keep you safe and cozy for longer. This is so tough baby boy. So tough to be without you. Wish you were here my squirmy wormy. Oh how much I wish you were here!!! Love you! xoxox.