Saturday, June 22, 2013

Ghosts

I just had the strangest experience.  For the third or fourth time.

Mike was gone for the afternoon, leaving me with the kiddos right around nap time.  He put Liv to bed in her room, and Matt was still asleep in his carseat from our outing to the park.  I settled in for some Saturday afternoon movie-watching. 

About half an hour into this restful break, Matt began to stir, and I prepped a bottle for his "second lunch".  I propped up the pillows just so, grabbed a burp cloth, and we both snuggled in for his feeding.  We sat there, both quite content, watching The King's Speech. 

The whole house was still.

I was pretty sucked into the movie until I realized how loud Colin Firth was screaming obscenities to overcome his stutter.  I quickly grabbed the remote to hush him. 

And then I realized...

I had not been worried about the noise bothering Matt.  He was awake, eating happily.  I hadn't been worried about Liv, either.  She could sleep through an air-raid siren. 

I was honestly worried the movie might wake up Carpenter.  I was concerned to the point that my eyes shot down to the baby swing to see if he had been disturbed. 

Obviously my conscious knows he's not sleeping in the baby swing.  I know the volume can't be too loud for his ears.  But a handful of times in the past two weeks, I've had a snap moment where it felt like he was right there, just like the other two.  Not just "there" like he could be in spirit.  "There" as in physically, alive, and needing me.  "There" as in I had to stop and count heads of living children to shock myself back into reality. 

Of course, these momentary scares (hopes?) make me wonder...

Was he there?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Fifteen Months, Two Weeks

It feels like a million years since I posted last.  I don't like that.  Friends of mine are doing these status posts, and I feel the need to do the same.  I'll use this to get my feet wet again...

All through my grief journey, I've wondered if I'm doing this right.  If I'm grieving correctly.  That probably comes from years of pop culture and "experts" telling me about the five stages of grief (which are almost never applied correctly, but that's another story).  The world thinks we are to move linearly through these cleanly-defined stages, eventually reaching an end. 

It's nothing like that.

Fifteen months and two weeks ago, my sweet Carpenter died.  Not a single day goes by that I don't think of him.  Hell, I'd bet I don't go an hour.  And that's the way it always has been, from the beginning. 


I suppose the way I think of him--the things I think--those have changed, though. 


In the first six months, it was not uncommon to find me sobbing on the floor of my closet.  I kept a pillow in there for just that purpose.  Now I don't feel things as intensely as I used to.  I worry this is because I'm hiding that part of myself away.  But I still feel the grief...

I have "valleys".  My valleys are those days or weeks where I'm drowning in a fog.  I can see what's around me, but not much further than that.  I forget about (ignore?) the rest of the world and close down into the valley.  It's a quiet, lonely place.  I try to shut out the world, but...

I know I have to work on my relationships.  In the early months, many friendships suffer at the hands of intense grief.  Too many fail to pass the test that comes with death.  But that doesn't allow me to just avoid everyone.  Relationships are work, and relationships marred by grief are excruciating.  Mike and I have trudged our way through a number of valleys, and each one took serious hard work to overcome.  We keep fighting the good fight against the fog because...

While my grief and my son are constantly parts of me, they are not the only parts of me.  In the beginning, I felt like nothing would ever matter again.  This was me: a broken, destroyed mother to a dead child.  And yes, I am still broken.  I am destroyed.  My son is dead.  But I am so much more than just that.

I have true friends, and I am now able to be a friend to those who supported me.  I am a strong woman, and I now use my strength to lift up other angel moms.  I am a hard worker, and I now work towards raising awareness and support.  I am a wife, and I can see that my husband has saved me--a million times.  I am a mother, and this is the most important part of me.  I am a mother to three children.  And every single day, I parent those children.

The grief has not gone away.  It has instead infiltrated my life.  But I cannot see this as a negative, because to do that would be to see Carpenter's life as a negative.  Instead, I see the positive ways in which grief has shaped me. 

I am a better person for having grieved.

I am a better person for having known my beautiful son. 

Fifteen months and two weeks...and a little perspective.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Newbie

I first became a mother that day I called my own mom to tell her the test was positive, 30-some weeks before Liv was born.  I loved her, cared for her, suffered needles and blood-draws for her. 

Of course, my mettle wasn't tested until many months later when I left my high-energy, high-stress job and headed home with my infant.  I spent my first three months in a bathrobe, covered in spit-up, walking the halls, bouncing my newborn and praying for her to stop crying. 

I had no idea what I was doing.  And I had absolutely zero confidence.

I called my sister-in-law daily just to hear her say that this too shall pass, it does get better, and I'm not a horrible mother.  It was absolutely nerve-wracking being a new mom.

But over the past 21 months, I've thrived, and so has Liv.  Some days I measure success merely by counting the number of meals served, and some days that's plenty.  Some days I'm super-mom, showing Pinterest who's boss.  But over those 21 months, I've grown in my confidence that I do have a clue, and this mom thing has become tantamount to riding a bike. 

That is, until we brought Matthew home.

Last night I cried.  No, I sobbed.  And when Mike asked what was wrong, I'm sure he wasn't anticipating this answer.

I didn't know whether I should go ahead and shower that night while he was there to help with the kids, or if I would be able to get a shower in the morning.

I know it's ridiculous.  For months I've figured out how to shower alone while letting Liv entertain herself for a few minutes.  It's not a huge deal.  The worst thing to come of this has been pulled-back shower curtains exposing me to cold air and Liv to an unexpected wash-down.  

But suddenly, I have no confidence.

Okay, not NO confidence, but what's there is shaken.  My feet are no longer underneath me as I plan outings, errands...even showering.  Suddenly I feel like I need a safety net to perform these simple acts.  

Again, I call my sister-in-law, telling her about my day and looking for her stamp of approval.  Again, I walk the halls and cry sometimes.  Again, I feel like a new mom.

When explaining this phenomenon to a dear friend who has been there, it dawned on me what my issue is.  And it's an issue I suspect will haunt my motherhood (and bless it) for years to come.  Carpenter.

None of us want, need or deserve to question ourselves as mothers once we've lost our children.  But it happens to almost every single one of us.  It was not our fault--bad things just happen--but that loss forever shakes the confidence that once had us casually discussing running to the grocery store with four kids in tow.  Seemingly simple things must be preceded by wondering whether we're up for the task.  

I mean, staying pregnant seemed simple enough...

So now I'm starting from scratch.  I'm a reborn newbie to this motherhood gig.  I feel lost and alone and scared.  

But there must be some hope in all this.  And there is.  Because every once in a while I have little moments that feel like deja vu.  Small glimpses into who I was when riding a bike felt that simple.  Because I am that person still.  Just a slightly dented version of that person.  And deep down, I know that I can do this.  

Because that was not my fault.  

And this is what a mother was born to do. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Breakdown

It happens to all of us.  Every mom who ever has a child in the NICU.  

The NICU breakdown.  

It happened to me today.  I finally succumbed to the emotions, the exhaustion, the pain--and I broke down.  I lost my mind, right in the middle of a busy lobby.  And while I knew this scene had been seen and heard by the staff a million times, my trigger had been just a little bit different.  

We've been trying for two days to slowly introduce Liv to her new brother.  We've taken toys, stuffed animals, candy--anything to entice her to visit Matt.  And tragically we've seen fit after fit in response.  Let's face it--NICUs are boring.  You're supposed to be quiet, and your friends can't come play.  Worst of all, mom and dad are suddenly playing with some new kid who refuses to do the "silly scream" whenever he gets kissed.  Just rude.  

Today was the worst.  Liv got to the NICU door and lost her mind.  I had been with Matt for a while already, so I grabbed the screaming toddler and left Mike to his snuggles.  

Of course, the Ronald McDonald Family Room closed an hour early today.  And the waiting room smells horrible.  So we headed down to the lobby.  

It was not good.

Liv threw herself to the floor, demanding snacks.  I had left my wallet upstairs, and she didn't understand that we needed to go get money to pay for her food.  She didn't need food.  She was exhausted and wanted to keep herself awake by any means necessary.  But it didn't matter the reason.  We were causing a horrible scene.  At first I ignored her.  Then I tried to coax her.  By the end, she got a spanking and I sentenced her to the rest of the visit on the couch, trying to nap.  Miserable.  The judging looks from passers-by were pretty miserable, too.  

Eventually Mike came down to go home and feed Liv.  He noticed I looked upset and asked what was wrong.  I told him that I was really upset we were leaving and if I could, I'd stay all night long.  He tried to be patient, but explained that there was no way I could stay all night and we needed to go to the grocery.  So I said, "I just hate the idea of him being all alone."

And that's when I lost it.  

I immediately started sobbing.  I cried the second the words began leaving my mouth, because I knew I had heard myself say that before.  It's the same thing I said when the funeral home director came to wheel my little Carpenter away forever.  

I just hate the idea of him being all alone.

Once again, a moment in the life of my rainbow is so directly related to his brother's story.  Once again, I draw a parallel that tears my heart in two.  Once again I see that no matter what the situation, I will always see Carpenter in his brother.

I don't know how some people can NOT do this.  How they can disassociate their rainbows from their angels.  Because for me, every step of the way through this process, I've been thinking about Carpenter. 

How different situations are similar to Carpenter's birth.  Or who was with me for both deliveries.  Or every other little detail that has the least in common with the last time I was in the hospital.  

I do not for a moment want you to believe I am replacing my Carpenter with Matt.  That could never happen.  And I'm not having Carpenter live vicariously through his brother in my mind.  But I'm seeing already that no matter what, as I watch my sweet boy grow up, I'm going to think of his brother.  And some times, those glimpses...they'll break me down.

But they'll also remind me that Carpenter is always with us.  

All of us.  

Forever.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Birthing Rainbows

Thursday morning, at 3:39am, I met face-to-face with a rainbow.

Matthew was born. 

Let's go back, though.  I'd like to tell the story.

On Wednesday, April 24, I checked into the hospital with Mike and Carpenter's teddy.  We were sent to the High Risk Antepartum unit, and I was immediately put on an NST machine.  A short time after we arrived, my friend Jenn came in to visit.  

Jenn, Mike and I sat around talking about inane things like Speed Walking, the Olympic sport (which is not a joke at all).  It was absolutely beautiful, just sitting there, remembering how our friendship started in exactly this way.  Last February, Jenn sat down with us while I labored with Carpenter, and she kept us sane.  All we did was talk about Seinfeld and mock spelling bees, but she was really helping us survive that nightmare.  This time, it was beautifully similar, as if to show us that Carpenter was there with us, and he was going to make sure we all got a happy ending.  

My doctor came in next and talked to us.  He's honestly the best.  I have no idea what we talked about, but he decided he'd come back later to give me the Cervadil, so he headed back to his office.  

Next was the neonatologist.  He explained to us what we should expect after delivery.  The plan was to have a team with me during delivery who would whisk Matt away very quickly to get blood panels started.  I asked him to teach me all the normal ranges for hemoglobin, reticulocites and bilirubin.  When I heard them discussing those numbers later, I was determined to understand.  The doctor had me feeling totally confident.

Then came the Cervadil.  

Holy crap.

That stuff hurts. 

So they put this med-on-a-string basically up against your cervix to get it to thin out and dilate.  It's supposed to sit there for 12 hours and then pulled out.  We did not make it 12 hours.  ...I survived two hours.  And they were hellish.  I'm not sure how I managed to not cry, but I could have kissed my nurses when they came in to check on me.  They basically said that my contractions were coming too hard and too fast for my own safety.  They didn't even wait on my doctor to agree.  They pulled the meds.  

My doctor was a bit miffed when he found out they stopped the induction meds without his orders.  However, when he saw my monitor and then realized I hadn't dilated more at all, he was satisfied they made the right decision.  Many hours of pain, and still at 1.5cm.  So, the question was whether we would just go naturally for a while or if he would give me another induction medication.  Actually, he chose secret option #3.

He wanted to strip my membranes.  Well, I've heard from a few people that this hurts.  So I asked..."Doesn't that hurt really badly?"  My doctor's brilliant response was (honestly verbatim):  "It's not excruciating."  The man should never change professions to used car dealer.  He and Mike actually got a good chuckle out of my frustration with that answer, and they patted each other on the back for not sugar-coating with me.  Boys.  

By the way...it hurts.  But it's not excruciating.  

I could feel a difference in the contractions from then on.  They were even lower, and completely wrapped around to my back.  I knew they were helping...but they were absolutely killing me.  The nurse brought me Dilaudid, which really helped for the first two hours.  The next dose did nothing.  I just kept breathing in my own semi-remembered, semi-made up Lamaze style, praying for the contraction to hold off for a few seconds before it started again.  

Luckily the nurse decided my pain level was enough that I should probably get my epidural.  Sometime around this point, my friend Emily showed up.  She had been sitting at home, about 200 miles away, wondering how we were doing and when Matt would come.  Suddenly something told her she had to leave immediately, and she hopped in the car.  Her mom thought she was insane.  Hell, she was insane.  But she was right, and arrived with almost no time to spare.  About that time, the nurse checked me again and decided I was 3.5cm and moving to L&D was imperative.

So we moved.  Emily and Mike packed everything up, and they wheeled me around to a room that mercifully looked more like Olivia's delivery room than Carpenter's.  At the very least, we were facing the opposite direction from last time.  

The anesthesiologist arrived very quickly, thank God.  We asked him if he knew Carpenter's anesthesiologist, and of course they were good friends.  I was sad we wouldn't get to see Dr. C, but Dr. E was excellent at his work.  Within minutes I was feeling no pain, but was not so drugged up that I couldn't feel what the contractions were doing.  That helped so much when it came time to push.  With Carpenter, of course, the name of the game had been "let her feel no physical pain because the emotional is bad enough."  Dr. E was also pretty hilarious.  He and Mike were talking about that SNL skit, "D*** In A Box."  I'm not sure why that stood out in my mind of all things...

Emily, Mike and I spent the next hour or so just hanging out.  Actually, I think Mike took a shower while Em and I chatted.  I was barely able to keep my eyes open, so I couldn't say what we talked about besides Em's boyfriend and her crazy job.

Of course, when you have an epidural, you have to rely on the kindness of nurses to use the bathroom.  So I called the nurses' station and asked for help.  My nurse, Lori, called me on the phone and told me she was heading in to assist with another epidural, and she wondered if I would mind someone else pinch-hitting for her.  I didn't mind, and Samantha came in.  I really felt like I was going to burst, but Samantha decided she needed to check my cervix before she ran the catheter. 

Fun.  Let's not let Annie pee.

Samantha got on her glove, felt my cervix, pulled out her phone and said, "She's ready."

Ready for what?!  

Apparently ready to give birth.  Well, physically, at least.  I had gone from 3.5 to 10cm in about 2 hours.  

The flurry of activity was pretty intense.  Samantha started making phone calls.  I had Emily and Mike calling Jenn (who was determined to be at the delivery), my mom and my sister.  Of course, I contributed to all of this in such a helpful way.  

I started sobbing.  

And in that moment...in that whirlwind...I was overwhelmed by an emotion I hadn't anticipated.  Guilt.  Mike walked over to hold my hand and I told him I felt so guilty.  I know I caught him off guard.  I caught myself off guard.  But the guilt was deep, and the tears flowed.  I felt guilty for a million things that this baby had and would have that Carpenter couldn't.  And while I was so excited for the happiness Matt would bring, I could not (and WOULD NOT) separate this event from his brother's birth just one year before.  My rainbow was being born, and I felt my angel in the room.  I know he sent his brother and is happy for our whole family.  I know he wants me to be happy, and doesn't need or want me to feel that guilt.  But grief is a miserable beast, and there's no controlling it.  So I will instead rejoice that every part of me was carrying all our children through this process.  We were all there, for better or for worse.  

...

Dr. L and Jenn were both obviously at home asleep when they were called to come in.  So I had to wait about 20 minutes for them to each arrive.  The whole time, I was having horrible contractions, so low, and was dying to push.  So I kept my mouth shut, my legs crossed, and concentrated on my breathing.  Dr. L arrived and started prepping while nurses turned the transformer bed into a delivery table.  He came over to my side and said something about getting started to which everyone said no.  

We had to wait on Jenn!  She had said she intended to see us through to the end with Matt, and I wouldn't say no to that.  It's the least I can do to thank her for all she's done for my sons and our whole family.  How could I not have her by my side for this delivery?  Dr. L completely understood, and we all settled for a little wait.  

Jenn arrived just a few minutes later, though, and we got to work.  Soon after she walked in, a team from the NICU also appeared, waiting to take Matt downstairs as soon as I had a chance to say hello.  Team Annie was all there.  Mike, Emily, Jenn, Dr. L, Lori, the NICU team...about ten people ready to greet Matt when he took his first beautiful breath.  So we got started.

My water still hadn't broken, but Samantha described it as "a bulging sack."  My doctor agreed with her and decided a slow leak was best.  He popped a tiny hole in the sack and got up to throw something away.  He turned his back to me and suddenly we heard a very loud "POP!" and my amniotic fluid burst like a water balloon.  Everyone started laughing and commenting on how they'd never seen or heard anything like that before.  Just one more way my kid keeps people guessing.  

Finally it was time to push.  Mike kissed me once more and thanked me, telling me how proud he was.  He and the nurse helped me get my legs into the stirrups and I scrunched down into position.  I grabbed the backs of my legs and gave one big push.  Out popped a head.  I tried to hold it together even though I couldn't hear a cry.  Emily and Mike (I believe) told me to relax, that he couldn't cry yet because he wasn't actually out.  Dr. L rotated his little body (which feels so strange!) and told me to push again.  Once more, and he was out.  Out and breathing.  Out and alive.  A rainbow, officially.  

Dr. L carried Matt to the incubator table and was just starting to say something about delayed cord clamping when SPLAT!  Um.  Well.  When Matt came out, he decided to take everything with him...including the placenta.  That fat, disgusting blob came flopping out onto the floor, still attached to the cord.  

I have never, ever, ever wanted to see a placenta in real life.  I wish I could scrub the image from my mind.  

But it was pretty funny.  

Again, not one person in the room had ever seen that happen.  My kid is special to a creepy fault.

But Matt was out and safe and crying.  And I was done.  And it was over.  

I had delivered a rainbow.  

And it was better than anything you could ever imagine.

...

There is a lot more to the story, but I want to let the delivery stand on its own for now.  I'll write about Matt's NICU adventures soon.  Thank you...so very much.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Whew

So I had my fourth MCA doppler today.  I just realized I've never taken the time to describe what this is on this blog, so let me give a bit of background.

Two weeks ago, my blood test results came back showing my titer levels had increased to 1:8.  It was time that a new step be taken, and that means MCA Dopplers.  An MCA Doppler is an ultrasound of the baby's middle cerebral artery.  The ultrasound tech lays me down flat and slightly inverted and puts the wand over Matt's brain.  Then she finds the artery and focuses in specifically on that.  She monitors the blood flow through that artery to get a single reading.  The reading looks very much like a heartrate on the screen, with just the peaks.  She has to take at least 6 readings to get a good scan.  Then she does a physical analysis of Matt to ensure that he has plenty of fluid, his lungs, skin and heart aren't taking in any excess fluid, and his growth and movement are healthy. 

The ultrasound tech then sends all of the data, pictures and video to the MFM specialist.  She analyzes the information, taking the highest number and cross-referencing that with my gestational age on a chart.  That chart gives us a number called a multiple of the median.  No, I don't really understand what that term means.  But anything under 1 is normal.  Anything over 1 shows varying levels of anemia.  Over the past four tests I've gotten an erroneous 1.6 and acceptable 1.4, 1.2 and 1.3.  

1.4 would indicate mild anemia.  Since the numbers have consistently been above normal range, the head of MFM determined that the risks to Matt officially outweigh the benefits.  He will be delivered at 37 weeks. 

Ahem.  For the back row... THIRTY SEVEN WEEKS!

Hooray!!!  

Back to the seriousness now.  Tomorrow I'll have a routine OB visit.  They'll check my cervix to see how the contractions have affected it.  This will determine what induction medications they will start me with.  The MFM specialist today explained that we need to be prepared for Matt to possibly go into the NICU for a short while.  He could just be there for observation, or he may need a transfusion.  They'll test his hemoglobin levels and determine what further action needs to be taken.  

Anyway, that's where we're at today.  T minus one week and counting.  

Holy crap I'm going to bring a baby home in just over a week.

Holy crap holy crap holy crap.

Probably should clean this house or something.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Control

Three long, Oreo-free months ago, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes.  And for three long months, I have freaked out over every meal, every snack, and every exercise. 

About a month into this issue, I told my doctor through sobs that I was starting to lose my mind.  The stress of counting carbs, watching clocks, setting alarms, exercising just enough, pricking my own finger and then writing down every detail was making me insane.  Almost daily I would go to bed crying.  

My doctor's response was not at all what I expected.  

"Oh, that's too bad.  I really thought if you had something you could control to focus on, it would take your mind off your other issues."

Ahem.  

What did you just say?

The dear, sweet man truly felt that a diagnosis of another potentially baby-threatening disorder was somehow going to make me ...MORE CALM?  

Worked like a charm, doc.  No, instead of calming down, the panic merely shifted because one part of his thought was accurate.  I could control the GDM.  And I controlled the hell out of it.  

Yesterday at my routine OB visit, I asked my nurse to tell me how my weight changed from my last appointment to this one.  I don't like to know numbers, but part of the GDM psychosis is needing to know weight gain and loss.  Her response was, "Are you sure you don't just want to know how your weight has changed since you first got pregnant?"  Sure.  Why the hell not.  She sounded positive and up-beat, so I gambled.  

Attention all readers.  In the past 36 weeks, I have gained a total of four pounds.  And there's still a six-pound baby inside me.

(Disclaimer:  This is NOT at ALL a competition or a challenge.  MOST pregnant women should gain much more than that during their gestation.  However, I've been pregnant pretty much constantly for three years, with some grief-eating in between, so this is a perfect amount for me.  Stunning, actually.) 

When she told me, I got a little ridiculous.  I threw myself a mental parade and went on to tell my husband, sister, friends...anyone who would listen.  I was over the moon, and rightly so.

But this morning, something occurred to me.  I did control the GDM.  I controlled my food and my glucose and my weight.  But in doing that, what have I really controlled? 

When you lose a child, all your control is suddenly stolen from you.  You scream at the doctor, the nurse, anyone who will listen that THIS CANNOT HAPPEN, but there's nothing you can do.  And during the rainbow pregnancy, you get determined to control everything.  

"This time around will be different."

For me, I switched doctors just to be designated "high risk."  I had my medical files re-examined.  I signed up for all the tests, injections, appointments I possibly could.  I begged for extra ultrasounds.  I came prepared for every single appointment with questions and research.  I went Type-A all over this pregnancy.  


But at no point have I ever really had control over whether or not Matt gets to come home in the end.

Not that all of that was for nothing.  It's all been wonderful, and I know that Matt is getting the best care possible.  I trust my doctor and his staff to take care of us.  But the idea that at any moment I had control over this pregnancy?  Lies.  This facade of control is just something I created to make myself feel a bit of relief.

And what does this revelation do for me?  One amazing boon.  

It allows me to forgive myself a little.

I realize now that I didn't lose my control when I lost Carpenter.  I did not drop the ball or let him down at any point.  I couldn't stop his death.  Sometimes bad things happen.  It isn't that we aren't doing enough, or asking enough, or planning enough.  It's that sometimes, babies don't come home with their parents.  And sometimes those same parents have a baby that defies all odds.  

And that end result--that question we want to dictate more than anything--that's not something we can control.  

Instead, we do the best we can for our babies, and that is all we can ask of ourselves.  

Relax.  Breathe deeply.  Forgive yourself a little.

 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Nesting For Two

I'm in the final countdown.  Less than a month to go now until baby Matthew is to be delivered safely in my arms.  The panic is not really subsiding with that information.  In fact, we're adding layers.  

I'm in a nesting panic.  

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has regrets from their angel-pregnancy.  My harshest one?  I never made a space for Carpenter in our home.  That gnaws at me every day of my life.  That guilt.  Did he feel unwelcome in my home?  Were we not ready for him?  Did he feel less wanted than his sister?  How could I let him down like that?

I did have the whole thing planned out.  Carpenter was named for his great-grandfather, a SeaBee in the Navy, so everything was going to have a naval theme to it.  I had picked out awesome propaganda posters from WWII calling young carpenters to serve their country by building bridges.  I had decided to spell his name out in semaphore over the crib.  

But none of that ever got done.

I got hung up waiting for my sister to come get the guest bed that she swore she wanted.  (A year later I was still waiting.)  So without space to work, I just kept putting decorating on the backburner. 

And I'll never live that down.

But for the past few weeks, I've been in crazy-nesting-mode.  Slightly insane with the need to have everything completed and perfectly so, in order to provide a home for Matthew.  Every decision has been agonizing, and I've stressed myself to tears.  During last night's sob-fest, Mike finally put what I am going through in plain English:  I'm nesting for two.  

I know it's insane.  But I'm pouring my heart and soul into making just the right space for BOTH our sons to call home.  Half of everything in that room represents Carpenter in some way.  Half of that room is his.  That is not the nursery.  It's not Matt's room.  It's the "boys' room."  And no matter how much work I put into it...no matter how perfect...I'll still never be happy with it.  

Because for at least one boy, it's too little too late. 
The guilt will probably never go away.  But today, right now, I know I'm doing my best to make up for my regrets in some small way.  And that's what surviving babyloss is all about.  Getting up each day, recognizing that the pain and hurt are still a part of you, and accepting that the only response to that is to keep moving.  Carry your baggage, but keep walking.  

Today I will show my son he is wanted and loved in our home, now and forever.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Holy Week

I've been running errands like a crazy-person today, trying to get ready for a trip to warmer climates.  These errands have had me driving over a hundred miles today, visiting three different towns.  And in each of these towns, I've passed multiple churches and companies that advertise Easter this week.  A church near me is hosting an Easter party on Saturday.  An acquaintance just celebrated an egg-hunt with her son yesterday.  Everyone has an Easter sale this week.  Everyone is ready to celebrate.

But it isn't time yet.

A friend of mine said she was having a hard time dealing with people wanting to celebrate the rebirth and happiness of Easter.  With her son's death, her joy for this event had been stripped away.  Not everyone is reborn.  At the time, I didn't think too much about what she said, but with every "Happy Easter" greeting, I'm coming to believe...she's right.  

This week is not about celebrating life.  

Yesterday was Palm Sunday.  A day to remember the time Jesus rode into a city where he would eventually be sentenced to death.  And Holy Week is the slow march toward that painful fate.  This is not a time of celebration or victory or bright colors.  This is a time of remembering pain and darkness and death.  And of course, many of you are asking yourself if I've lost it, but...

It is right to remember this pain.  

All too often we overlook the hard parts in life--our losses, pains, sufferings--and rush to "get over it."  People expect that when there's a sunny day on the far horizon, we should look beyond the rain that's falling on our heads.  

But I refuse.  Because there is beauty in that pain.

In loss and death there is beauty, and truth, and love.  Christ's resurrection would mean nothing without His sacrifice.  And the rest of my life would be meaningless if I did not remember the death of Carpenter.  Every single good moment, every celebration, every happiness--they all mean so much more after the loss of my first son.  If we cannot take the time to find beauty in the painful moments, we will never be able to truly understand what it is to celebrate something. 

So today I find so much meaning in the sign I made for my boys' nursery:

"Praise God for the Rainbows and the Rain."  For it is only through accepting the beauty in each of these that we may truly appreciate the other.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Lost

I intended to write this post an hour ago when nap time started.  Of course, other things had to be done, and Mommy's alone-time took a far back seat.  Luckily I got some things ordered for the nursery...I guess.  Whatever.  

Anyway, as the title suggests, I've been totally lost lately.  I'm quite sure a few people have noticed.  Well, maybe not.  But I haven't written or tweeted or volunteered or generally been a part of a community at all in weeks.  And I'm not really sure what's going on here.  

Everyone will tell you that with grieving there are peaks and valleys.  For me, I never know I was in a valley until I start climbing out.  And about a week ago, I thought I was climbing.  But I never actually got out.  And the strangest part was that I was completely unaware of anything during that time.  

This most recent valley was (is) not a cry-fest, or a pity party, or anything I would have expected.  I've just cut myself off mentally and emotionally from everything.  (Nap time just ended.  Guess I'll have to hurry up or shut up.)  

But that's exactly it!  I've been so lost in the everyday, the mundane, the job of being mom, that I have not self-assessed in weeks.  I'm merely a robot, set to keep two kids alive.  Apparently my control panel has decided the third can fend for himself.  

And it's disgusting.  I've felt nothing for weeks, including sorrow.  The numbness, now that I'm aware of it, is almost painful and embarrassing.  I don't want to be this person.  I don't even know who I am right now.  I'm just here, absolutely forcing myself to type this, so there might be some type of record for me to look back on should this happen again.  

I have no idea what's happening.  I have no idea what to feel.  I am lost.

Monday, March 4, 2013

29/4

I had an OB appointment today and felt like updating the world.  Matt's 29/4 now, and we have OB appointments and ultrasounds every two weeks.  So, here's how today went.

My doctor is really happy with my blood glucose levels.  He said I get an "A!"  I'll take that to mean I probably shouldn't be as hard on myself as I have been...but I doubt my brain will listen to that idea.  My nurse also told me that if on occasion, I am freaking myself out and feel the need to go to bed before dinner, I can do that.  Stress is so much worse on this pregnancy that skipping one test.  

We re-drew for my progesterone level.  Last week the lab royally screwed up my test--three times.  Each time, of course, they demanded it was right...until they called back a little while later to admit they made a mistake.  So, we won't be using that lab again.  Unfortunately, that means that my blood tests have to be sent off to the Pope Paul Institute in Nebraska.  So I got the exciting task of taking blood serum to the post office today.  I was promised we were in complete compliance with USPS regulations with the packaging.  I was also promised I would likely have a hard time sending this stuff.  

Did I ever.

But that post office attendant is a real jerk, always, giving a bad name to postal workers everywhere.  He is Newman.  So after being publicly ridiculed, I took the box to a pack and ship place and they sent it off with a smile and thanks.  USPS, you suck.  Thank you, packing-guy-that-looks-like-Lionel-Ritchie!

So, back to the actual appointment:

The ultrasound was awesome!  Matt looks fantastic!  He was so wiggly the whole time, but still gave us some good looks at his cute little mug.  He's practicing breathing now, which an awesome sign for his good health.  He also has no signs of hydrops at all, so none of our worst fears are coming true.  He's measuring right on target for some things, and a little ahead for others. 

Overall, our doctor says he looks perfectly healthy.

With all the worrying and testing and shots...and he's perfectly healthy.  

This perfectly healthy kid is going to kill me.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Confession

I've got to get something off my chest.  It's time to confess.

I have gestational diabetes.

And I'm sure that statement just received one of the following responses in your mind.  1.)  "Boring.  I thought it would be something interesting."  or 2.) "She should have taken better care of herself."

Well, I hope you're not all sitting there judging me, but damned if I haven't been judging myself for the past week.  I actually sobbed when I got the call telling me I need to see a nutritionist.  No, I don't have to take insulin.  It's not bad at all, really...I only failed my three-hour glucola test by a few points.  But I do have to change my diet.  

At first, I was overwhelmed by the shame of it all, which is exactly why I haven't shared this until now.  Diabetes (except Type 1) often comes with a connotation that you've not taken care of yourself.  You've eaten yourself into this problem.  But that's not true at all.  And that's why I'm finally willing to talk about it.  It just took a week of self-loathing to get to this point.

Fun little factoid: those progesterone shots I've been receiving for months...they're insulin-blockers.  So every time I got another shot, I increased my chances of developing GDM.  Apparently women who get progesterone supplements are 4 times as likely to end up right where I am.  

And this is just one more damn thing I've developed during this pregnancy.  

My nurse told me the other day how ironic it is that I have freaked out about this so badly when it's the one thing in this pregnancy I've actually been able to control.  Yes, you might think I should be panicking about my titer levels, or the fact that my progesterone won't ever increase naturally, but no.  I've decided to throw a fit about carbs.  (Of course, Oreos being carbs, you can see how I could lose it over that alone.) 

Sweet irony always being by my side, my last blood test showed my progesterone was skyrocketing since I've changed my diet.  I've delved into research, trying to find one person who has proven that a low-carb diet naturally increases progesterone, but there's nothing there.  But how uncanny would it be if the progesterone caused the GDM, and the GDM diet cured the low progesterone, and not having the shots cured the GDM?  Oh, sweet dreams of dancing cupcakes.  But doubtful.  

So for the next 8 weeks, I'm on a low-carb, high-roughage and protein diet.  I mean, I love protein and roughage, so it's not a big deal.  The big deal is that I have to test my blood sugar four times a day.  And we all know how Annie deals with needles.

No, there's nothing at all fun about stabbing yourself in the fingers four times a day, then squeezing out enough blood (apparently I have calloused fingers) to test.  Nothing at all.  But so far, I'm doing a fantastic job.  I've even managed to safely eat one or two Oreos.  

So for those of my sisters who fear the great GDM (with good reason!), I'm here to tell you, it's not the worst thing in the world.  No, it's not shameful.  No, you didn't bring this on yourself.  No, it's not horrible to manage.  Let's just all remember the mantra of the hopeful-rainbow-pregnancy:  

It's all for the babies.

This kid so owes me.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Carpenter's First Year

I sat up late last night, unable to sleep, and decided to put together a little memorial for my sweet boy.  Tomorrow, I'll write.  Today, I'll let pictures speak for me.  Goodnight, dear friends.

video

Monday, February 18, 2013

I'm Not Ready

Tomorrow is Carpenter's birthday.  I have written and rewritten this post almost five times today.  And I still feel just as disjointed and confused as with the first draft.  This probably makes no sense, but I believe that posting as-is will be honest.  And I prefer to be honest about what's going on in my heart and mind through this process.  Because not one minute of this journey has made sense.


I drove home from a meeting tonight.  It was dark.  The radio had been left on NPR and it was pretty quiet.  And it totally hit me how alone I was.  I called Mike to let him know I was on my way.  He didn't answer.  I realized that people I had called earlier in the day had not called me back.  I called a few other friends.  None answered.  I called Mike three more times.  He did not answer.  So I started to panic.  The grief finally had a crack to slip through, and it did.  Of course, Mike and a friend both called me, and I got a text pretty quickly, but the seed had already been sown.  And I knew finally what my big issue had been all day long.

This is the loneliest I've felt in a year.  

You imagine your child's birthday as a grand celebration where you're surrounded by family and friends.  People come from all around to see the person-of-the-hour, bringing gifts, hugs and kisses.  Everyone wants a slice of cake.  Everyone wants a picture with the birthday baby.  Everyone.  

Unless the birthday boy died.  Then...well, the invite list is pretty short, and not because you're feeling selective.  The number of people willing to celebrate the 24-week-life of my son is pretty damned small.  And that pisses me off.  

I am pissed off.

Because people SHOULD care.  People should remember.  How is this not seen as one of the greatest tragedies in the world that such a handsome little boy is no longer among us?  Where is the uproar?  Where are the memorials, the remembrances, the throngs of mourning fans?  

Right here.  Sitting on our bed in our bedroom.  

I came in the door sobbing, demanding to know why the nation would fly the flag at half-mast for Whitney Houston when she overdosed after a long, exciting life, but only an intimate few recognize Carpenter's anniversary.  I stood defiant, willing Mike to hug me and cry injustice as well.  Instead, he cut right through all of it.  

He said, "I guess we're luckier than a lot of people."

And he's right.  Carpenter does have friends and family who will remember him tomorrow.  Some will mourn with us.  We will not be alone. 

So while I still rage against the injustice of a dear life oft overlooked, I will try and appreciate how lucky we are.  And I pray that those who make us feel that way know how much they mean to us.  Because without those select few, I would have drowned in this sea of grief a year ago.  

I'm off to tread water.  Or cry myself to sleep.  Goodnight, dear friends.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

3 Hour Glucola with Gifs

Well, I had always hoped I wouldn't be here.  Sitting in a quiet room for three hours while nurses randomly stick me with needles.  


I'm having a Clockwork Orange flashback.  
Not going to hurt at all, they said.

If you've gotten this far in our relationship, you've probably realized needles and I have a torrid love-hate relationship.  I hate, hate, hate them, but they pretty much keep my kids alive.  So.  Yeah.  Shut up with the whining...right?  Wrong.  

I thought, if I have to go through this, I'm taking someone down with me.  And why not the millions (dozens...handful) of people who read this blog?  So, as I sit here, waiting for the next vial to be siphoned off, I will chronicle my experience.  For science.  

Seems legit.


7:45 AM

I was told to arrive "by eight am."  Being chronically early for appointments means I was here at 7:45, ready to go.  Of course, no one else was.  I stood outside the office in what can only be described as the atrium to a small-town mall, complete with exotic plants in ugly planters and tile leftover from a hospital.  I know now they tell you to get there by eight am because they have every intention of leaving you in the hallway.  Part of the fasting beforehand is watching a few dozen nurses walk by with McDonald's bags and Starbucks cups.  If you keep from tackling a slow one and licking the leftover wrappers, you've passed step one. 

OH...that counts?


8:00 AM
The nice nurse/receptionist checked me in.  I was obviously the first one here, so there was no fooling around, luckily.  I've got other doctors appointments today, because I'm high-maintenance like that.  She had me sign some papers, and then sent me down a hall to a little room with a single blood-draw chair facing a mirror.  Fun.  That's what every pregnant girl wants first thing in the morning when she's crabby and underfed.  To stare at herself head-on under fluorescent lights.  But I'm a fainter, so I got upgraded.

They were duly impressed.


They moved me to a nicer room, which looks like a really comfy waiting room for one, I guess.  I rolled up my sleeve, and started to warn my nurse that I'm scared to death of needl---holy crap she skewered me.  She's like a vampire-ninja.  Snuck right up, wasted no time, and stabbed me.  I guess it's over, at least.  

Then I got to choose what flavor pain I wanted next.  Your choices are normally Fruit Punch or Orange.  I had Fruit Punch for the one-hour, so I figured I'd mix it up.  Too much of a good thing, you know?  The Fruit Punch tastes like Hawaiian Punch thickened by hummingbird food.  The Orange was not nearly as sweet, thankfully, but just as thick.  I'll be brushing my teeth for an hour just to feel normal again.  (Have I ever mentioned I'm in love with brushing my teeth?  Nevermind.)  So, you have five minutes to chug down the juice.  It's not horrible at first.  It's really the dregs at the bottom that'll kill you.  You can see how thick it is then.  But I chugged it, tossed it, and laid back for the next three hours of medically-induced sugar-high.


Absolutely no side effects.


8:15 AM
HOLY CRAP I JUST REALIZED WHERE I AM!  I was just sitting here, thinking how delightfully cushy the fainters have it in comparison to the rest, and it hit me.  Wait for it...you have to stumble on it like I did.  I'm in a room with a heavy door toting a sign that warns "Do not enter, procedure in progress."  The room has two very comfy 80's recliners, a table, and a tv.  I can adjust the lighting however I please with lamps and warmer overhead light.  So, I'm sitting here, in the recliner, with a trash can beside me, a table with tissues in arm's reach, and a TV/VCR combo ahead of me.  On the table is a statue of two parents holding a baby.  And there is a basket in the corner that has a blanket haphazardly thrown over it, as if covering what's inside from the casual observer.  

I think...  

I think I'm in the room where guys go to...

You know...

Deposit their genetic materials!  

It's all fun and games until there's sperm involved.


HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Okay, back to business...waiting for the next hour to pass by.


8:30AM


I need a nap.  And I'm not sure if it's the sugar or the fact that it's 8:30AM and I'm merely 100 yards from Starbucks.  Matt's pretty excited to be here, though.  No kick-count app needed...he's up and ready for action.


Ally McBeal is so old, her baby is pixelated.


9:00AM

Always a glutton for punishment, I'm about to hunt down a nurse to do my next blood draw.  Shouldn't they be here already?  Should I go out there?  Did my nurse leave and suddenly everyone is worried there's some poor guy in here trying to make a deposit by watching "Murder, She Wrote"?

I guess I'll go out there and save these poor people from their imaginations.


"What's GOING ON in there?!"


9:15 AM

Quick Draw and I met in the hallway.  She didn't forget me.  Left arm this time, since she got the right last time.  I wonder if they switch each time, or if it's just because I switched recliners.  Either way, I'm now sitting in the dark, feet up, back to my 1980s old-lady mysteries.  I've been given permission to nap, and will go for it.  I mean, geez, this is my third kid.  When else am I going to nap?


Picture the exact opposite of this.  That's my life.


10:00 AM 


Just woke up to the closing credits of MSW.  Yes, I am seriously watching that.  It's good stuff!  Jessica Fletcher vs. The KGB?  Oh yes they did!  Sure, when I was a kid, watching this at Grandma's house, it wasn't great stuff.  But when Netflix suggests you watch something, you listen dammit.  Because I've been trained to obey social media and its counterparts.  

FAAAACEBOOOOK!


10:10 AM

Quick Draw is gone.  Speedy Gonzalez is here.  Speedy came in just to introduce herself, and I guess move me to another room.  I warned her I was left here because I'm a fainter and she playfully huffed, "Oh!  You're one of those!" and hustled back out to get her gear.  Pretty awesome response given that my old OB's phlebotomist used to basically pitch a fit whenever I came in.  I guess it's pretty inconvenient to walk across the hall with one vial, one needle, one alcohol swab and one bandaid.  That takes the work of at least two legs and a hand!  She couldn't be bothered.  In fact, I believe you might know her:


Seriously.  Picture this in scrubs without the whimsy.

10:30 AM

I now realize how I've been rambling on for the last 2 1/2 hours.  I feel the need to apologize to those of you who have made it this far.  ...  C'mon!  There has to be ONE of you left!  Anyway, I'm sorry.  I didn't promise any great, hilarious post, did I?  Oh.  I did.  Well, crap.  


Truth.
10:45 AM

I realize I'm in the home stretch.  Time has flown by with the nap and the self-congratulatory re-reading of this post.  I got all distracted and didn't finish the episode of MSW, so I still don't know if the KGB dunnit.  I've got fifteen minutes, though.  

Of course, in order to spew this "information" (remember, "for science!"?) at you dear readers as soon as possible, I'm going to do a Boy Meets World style summary for you now, so I can head straight out the door as the credits roll.  

Overall, I've had a pretty good day.  The juice tastes pretty miserable, but I've drunk much worse things in a game of King's Cup back in college.  (Only jerks use Bailey's for King's Cup.)  The needles were scary, until I realized how delicate the nurses were.  Barely felt anything.  Yes, I should be used to blood draws by now, but I'm not and I don't care.  It's been a very calm, relaxing experience.  Basically one step above Dental Cleaning on the Relax-a-Mom scale, and we all know how awesome that can be.  (Seriously, any women out there without living kids, get psyched for dental cleanings.  It's the best rest you'll get for six months.)  

I'll give the experience 3 out of 4 stars, with room for improvement.  It would totally be better if they'd just leave you the hell alone and let you nap for three hours straight.  But, then, I guess, what's the point?  

Hope you've enjoyed!  Love, Annie

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Knowledge Is Power...I Guess

Nap time today was spent in research.  The problem is, when you have a blood disorder that affects almost no one (literally), there's not a lot of lay information out there.  So I found medical journals.  

Fun.  

But I got to reading.  I wanted to learn as much as possible and then put together intelligent questions to ask my doctor.  (If I'm going to have a super-rare disorder, I may as well own it.)  With the lack of easily-understood information out there, I thought I'd share what I've learned today.

The antibodies don't directly attack Matt's red blood cells.  Instead, my blood increases the bilirubin levels in Matt's body.  That affects the kidneys and can progress to anemia.

Once you get pregnant post-sensitization, the antibody response takes 6 months to develop.  This is based on an average.  That coincides with my gestation very well, so it is not surprising that my blood tests previously came back too low to titer.  

A titer of 1:2 to 1:4 indicates a mild to moderate risk of danger to the baby.  1:8-1:16 is considered moderate to severe.  1:32 is extremely severe danger.  1:16 is what I call a "red flag" for most pregnancies.  The "red flag" is the point at which the doctors jump into high gear with your treatment.  Of course, a few factors can indicate that the "red flag" should be set at a lower titer level.  Two of these factors include having a previous sensitized pregnancy, and titers increasing at a rapid rate.  I have both of these factors, and my "red flag" has been set at 1:8.

Currently, at my 1:4 titer, the risk of Matt being adversely affected in any way is low.  There's a 90% chance nothing at all will happen to him...as long as I stay at this level.  However, we have to ensure it doesn't escalate.  From now on, I'll receive blood tests every two weeks and ultrasounds every 3-4 weeks.  The blood tests will check the titer level, and the ultrasounds will check Matt's growth.  At this level, our goal is to deliver around 37 weeks.

Of course, it is very likely that (given the previous rate of increase) my next blood test will show an increase to 1:8.  At that level, I will have an amniocentesis.  The amnio will tell us Matt's blood type (which at this point is almost certain), and his bilirubin level.  

The bilirubin level will then be charted on a Liley Chart.  This chart shows bilirubin levels in relation to gestational age.  It's divided into three zones--One being the least dangerous.  Where I fall on that chart determines our course of action.  There are multiple ways to monitor and react in this situation.

Ultrasounds are actually highly effective at determining the red blood cell count of the baby.  This is the least invasive method available.  Amniocenteses are much more dangerous because they increase cross-exposure of our bloods, which increases antibody production.  However, if Matt develops anemia, the only intrauterine response is fetal blood transfusions.  This means a needle is inserted through my abdomen into Matt's umbilical cord, and he is given a transfusion. 

So, the whole effort is then balancing Matt's bilirubin levels with his lung strength.  If I get to 1:8 or 1:16, our gestational goal is 34-36 weeks.  

Suddenly I'm exhausted.  If you have any follow-up questions that I should ask, please let me know.  I'm sure I need to know it as well!  Good night for now.  I hope no one ever again needs to find out this information.

Monday, February 4, 2013

A Bomb Drop

Today is the day I've been expecting since my first blood test of this pregnancy.  Expecting...dreading...it's all the same.  

My antibody screen came back titered.  

Oh...that means nothing to you?  Well, that's okay.  It means nothing to almost every single mother on the planet since the 1950s.  You know, because the Rhogam shot eradicated this issue.  At least, that's what everyone thinks...  and that's almost true.

Out of the 15% of the US Caucasian population that is Rh-negative, only 1.8% have a chance of becoming Rh-sensitized after getting the Rhogam.  So out of the tiny amount of pregnant women who are even Rh-negative, I've hit some kind of crazy jackpot, but out of the total number of pregnant women, the odds are impossible.  

Now wait, I know I've talked about this before.  I know it's not interesting, but something big happened, and I'm getting to the point. 

Titering means they take a blood sample and check it for antibodies.  We know they are there.  But then they dilute down the specimen one time and see if the antibodies still show up.  Up until now, they haven't passed that test.  This week, all of a sudden, they did.  And then some.  Now, not only do they stand up to that first round of dilution, but after diluting 4 times, the antibodies still show up.  

Well, what difference does all that make?  Basically, the more antibodies I have, the more likely those antibodies will team up against Matt's Rh-positive blood and shred his red blood cells.  You know, just because they're different.  *tragic laugh* That Rh-profiling would then lead to anemia...or worse. 

I explained it in this adorable story to Mike:  This whole pregnancy, there's been a crazed general, yearning to attack Matt's blood.  All of a sudden, he's gotten together a small group of zealots, hungry for war.  It's likely that the zealots will soon raise an army.  And then the battle will rage.  

So now what?  Well, I'll get blood tests all the time.  My next one is in two weeks, but we'll likely switch to once a week, since the levels escalated so quickly.  Apparently the big red flag will be if I hit 1 in 16, which would mean that the antibodies would be visible after 16 dilutions (explanation simplified a little for my own sanity...). 

So here we are.  Knowing full well what we're facing and that it could get worse at any minute.  

How do we hold on to our sanity?

God bless the women who get pregnant after a loss.  We're insane.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Considering Going To L&D Because You're Worried?

So you're considering going into L&D because you're worried about your baby...

I know what's going on in your head.  I've been right there.

This is what COULD happen if you go in:

No one will understand. 
You'll be embarrassed.
You'll cry the whole time.
The nurses will think you're crazy.
Your husband will think you're crazy.
Norms everywhere will roll their eyes.
Some people will think you're looking for attention.
You'll second-guess yourself the whole time.
Your doctor will tell you you're over-reacting.
It will be a waste of time.
You might hear the worst news in the world.

This is what WILL happen if you go in:

You'll KNOW what's going on.


Yesterday, a dear friend told me that often when mothers are nervous about their babies, they're looking for "permission" to be worried.  "Permission" to react.  As if we need another person to tell us that we're not over-reacting and our fears are founded.  But we do NOT need permission to worry about our children.  When a toddler bumps his head, no one questions a mother who rushes him to the ER.  Why should we feel embarrassed for doing the same thing, just because our babies need better equipment to check on them?  

I refuse to wait on permission from anyone to check on the welfare of my child ever again.  Because in the end, they may think I'm crazy, and they may think I'm over-reacting.  

But I'll know what's going on with my baby.

And that's all I care about.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Panic

Okay.  That was horrible.  

Around 3:00 this afternoon it occurred to me that I hadn't been paying attention to Matt's kicks.  So I stood still, focusing my attention, and realized that while he was moving occasionally, his movements were weak and subtle.  Nothing at all like the punches and kicks I have been getting.  

So I called the nurse on call.  

Well, you get the receptionist for some after-hours service, of course.  I explained that I was getting weak fetal movement and had a history of stillbirth.  She assured me someone would call me back as soon as possible.  

So I called Mike.  

He tried to stay calm and strong for me, but you could tell we were both freaking out.  

So I called Cristina.  

An amazing friend, nurse, and also a BLM, she assured me I needed to just go to the hospital and do an NST.  For a while, I hemmed and hawed, not sure whether I should wait for confirmation from the nurse on call.

So I called her again.  

This time I got a little huffy, explained I was freaking out, currently getting NO movement, and needed someone to help me NOW.  They again took my name and info, and promised a phone call as soon as possible.

That was it.  I wasn't waiting around to find out when they would finally call.  So I took Cristina's advice and just got in the car.  I drove to the same hospital--the single place that houses my best and worst memories in life, and kept it together until I parked and got Liv unloaded.  

Then I ran into K.  

Another loss mom from our local organization, K and her husband had been speaking to a group of nurses regarding care of families post-loss.  I felt like I was outside my mind when I saw them, and probably acted pretty insane.  But they completely understood when I told them why I was there.  I half-walked away from them.  I probably was insane.  K asked after me, wanting to help, and when I started to wander off, she offered prayers.  

I half-ran to the elevators.

I got to L&D as quickly as I could, and with tears pouring down my cheeks, I started to fill out paperwork.  I didn't notice the elevator opening.  But I did notice when K stepped beside me.  I'm not sure I can explain to her how much it meant to me that she followed me in.  She knows what it's like, and knew that I needed her.  There are just no words.  In her overwhelming kindness, she offered to stay with me and keep Liv.  Thank God for her.

I finished my paperwork and the receptionist disappeared.  Still sobbing, I didn't notice who was talking to me, until she grabbed me.  Jen, Carpenter's nurse.  Standing right there in front of me, ready to help me and Matt.  She took me, Liv and K back to triage and wasted no time getting me on the monitors.  He was fine.  She told me based on the data she saw, he was one of the strongest 25-week-olds she'd ever seen.  Thank God for her.  

Jen made sure Liv was happy with stickers and popsicles.  Of course, K had her spoiled with books, fawning over Liv's favorite new shoes.  But then Jen said the magic words that washed even more calm than a healthy heartbeat..."Dr. L is here.  He's coming to see you."  

Thank God for him.

He walked me through all potential causes for me to notice diminished movement, even though Matthew was moving very well.  Then he grabbed the ultrasound wand and showed me physically that none of those possibilities were an issue.  He assured me it was probably a question of not eating or drinking enough today, and Matthew was fine.

Thank God for them.

I do not say that lightly.  Thank God for the people who were with me today.  Every step of the way, I know God was putting the right people in exactly the right places to help me through this.  I know He was watching over me today, putting me in the hands of people who are truly caring and concerned about me and my sweet boy.  I have nothing fancy to say.  There's no moral to this story.  I just felt that I needed to publicly express my thanks to Cristina, K, Jen and my doctor for all being there for me today.  Thank God for you.  



...oh.  It took two hours before I got a message from the nurse on call.  So there is a moral:  Do NOT wait for "permission" to go to the hospital if you're worried.  That is why they are there.  They understand.  Just go in.  You will not regret it.