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.