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.