Tuesday, January 29, 2013

11 Months

Well, it's not technically 11 months now.  It's 11 months, 10 days.  But as I sat in Liv's room, sobbing, I realized I might want to write this out.  And 11 months is close enough.  But at this point, I've really stopped counting up, and instead, mentally started counting down.

Carpenter's birthday is less than one month away.  

I've talked to people about their angels' birthdays a million times.  Almost all of them have told me that the days leading up are so much harder than the actual day.  And I thought this must be due to planning how to spend the day when you should be buying cakes and party hats.  

No, it's way more than that.  

For the past week or so, there's been this overwhelming sense of angst and emptiness.  There haven't been any huge triggers, I've kept the planning for his birthday pretty matter-of-fact, and I've been quite busy.  But when I stop, take a breath, or lie down, it's there again.  

The worst this week has been the feeling of needing to fill my arms.  Such a universal experience, I'm suffering from empty arms.  So today I asked Mike to get me a stuffed animal for Valentine's Day.  And I had to dry my tears before I could even finish my request.  

I used to wonder when the roller coaster of grief would start the painful decent leading to this milestone.  Now here I am, just under a month away from his birthday, and the pain is sneaking up on me slowly.  

It's going to be a long month, I guess.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

24 Weeks

Matthew is now 24 weeks old exactly.  Obviously I know this because I've been a panicked wreck waiting to get to this moment, this one day--precisely one day older than his brother ever lived.  

It struck me as funny today that while born first, Carpenter would always be the "younger brother."  But that's a thought for another night.

I have been sweating getting through Hell Week, enduring constant reminders of where I was at this exact gestational age with Carpenter.  Maybe it was the day I fell.  Maybe the day I delivered his still body.  It was all horrible.  But as we see all too often in this babyloss journey, time marches on.  And with each passing day, I couldn't decide if that was a good thing.  

Yesterday was 23/6.  The exact age at which we delivered our sweet boy straight to Heaven.  

And I know he was watching over us yesterday.  

This might sound odd to some people, but I know my son talks to his siblings.  I know this.  I've seen it in action.  And yesterday, the message was received.  Sweet Carpenter sent word to his brother that this, of all days, would be one of the hardest in this whole pregnancy for their mommy.  He told his brother to keep me calm and happy as best he could.  And that sweet Matthew wiggled his little butt until I was satisfied.  

Of course, my boys always go just one step above and beyond. 

Matthew introduced himself to his father last night.  At 23 weeks, 6 days old, Matt finally kicked so hard that Mike felt him move, multiple times. 

What a gorgeous way to end such a terrifying week.

And this morning, the first day of Week 24, I got to hear his heartbeat.  

If I get nothing else in the world, I got one more day with this son.  And today, I can see that as the true blessing it is.

It's a good week.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Fear, Anger and Jealousy

Alright, alright, I know I'm supposed to feel like all women are my sisters, and we're all in this together, and normally I'd be all for this.  I LOVE women.  Huge fan...you know, since birth.  I went to an all-girls school for goodness sakes.  I refer to my extended family as a matriarchy.  But I have just about had it up to the proverbial "here" with some of my "sisters." 

And yes, I know that this is because I'm in Hell Week.  Give me a break.  I'll pray about it.

The last few days, I've just been so sensitive to, as a dear friend calls them, the "norms."  Non-loss preggos.  The holy grail of naivety.  And their cockeyed optimism is just pissing me off. 

I was a norm once.  I remember what it's like to worry about gaining weight and looking "so not cute."  I remember the color of the nursery being the biggest ordeal.  I remember shoving my "pregnant glow" in everyone's faces and almost demanding they ask me about my baby.  I remember petty fights with my husband.  I remember insisting I knew what was best.  I remember thinking nothing could go wrong, and the minor things that did were catastrophic. 

And then I buried my son.

Now I remember that "cute" doesn't matter.  That no one cares what color the nursery is, especially my baby.  That having a person ask if I'm excited can quickly lead to tears from either party.  That I have no control over anything at all in the grand scheme.  That pregnancy is a gift--a beautiful, scary gift--that can be taken away in a second.

This weekend, a norm visited my family, and I couldn't even bring myself to look at her.  She's the kind who is determined not to gain a pound.  She is obsessed with setting up the nursery just so.  

And it's all working out just fine for her.

The jealousy (yes, I know that's what it is!) bubbled up so high I had to cry it out.  I blubbered on Mike's shoulder, demanding I knew I was ridiculous, and I needed to cut it out.  And what did that wonderful man say to me?  "No, you're not being ridiculous.  It's not fair."

He's right.  It's not fair.  

I want to be worried about a nursery.

Not a heartbeat.

(I feel the need to mention that I do have so many friends who are "norms," and I love them dearly.  I wish for them nothing more taxing than worrying over baby names.  These are merely the harshly-thought words of a jealous woman.  Hugs.)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Cold Omens

Second day of Hell Week...my gestational milestone where we lost Carpenter.  

This one slapped me across the face.

About 5:30 this evening, I drove over to my church with my mom, sister-in-law and niece.  We unloaded carloads of food for a celebration.  I parked right outside the door at first, making our trips in shorter, and then decided to move out of the way.  We're Southern, so I asked my little niece if she'd like to drive my car to a parking space.  (Everyone learns to drive as a kid here.)  No one else was there...nothing to hit.  She sat on my lap and did a fine job of guiding the car and paying attention to her mirrors.

We parked and started to head back into the church fellowship hall.  With the snow yesterday, I yelled at my niece to stop running.  "You don't want to slip and fall!"  

And then it hit me.

Last year...last pregnancy...at 23 weeks.  I had spent the evening setting up the church fellowship hall for a celebration.  I rushed to get everything loaded into the car so I could go home to Mike.  On my way in from the parking lot, I slipped.  I stutter-stepped a few yards.  I fell flat on my stomach.  I rushed to the hospital, and saw a still baby.

Too many times this week I've said, "This is exactly what I was doing last year."  

I'm scared. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

23 Weeks

Well, here we are.  We've finally reached our milestone week.  Today I'm 23 weeks pregnant with Matthew.  Carpenter was born at 23/6.  My friend just asked me how I feel.  And the truth is

I have no idea.

I guess that's not entirely accurate.  I guess a better way to describe this feeling is confusion.  I'm really confused.  I feel lost and scared and confused.  All week, it seems, my husband has been coming home to a stressed out woman who can't explain herself.  Every little thing sets me off.  Liv has been sick and therefore whiny, but that's not it.  This is worse than a SAHM reaction to the terrible twos.  

Basically, it's a fear that, while I know this is a different pregnancy, I might get the same result.  And this week has a big sign hanging over it reading, "Warning!  Possible Road Closure Ahead."  

The weather is really not helping.  I woke up this morning to a friend announcing an impending snowstorm.  And it hit me.  If it snows today, well, that will be bad.  Because the last snow storm we had was on the day I delivered Carpenter.  I hate snow.  And now it's a potential bad omen.  

Maybe that's what part of this confusion is.  I'm looking around insanely for clues in the cosmos, the clouds, in numerology, in my Alphabits...anything to tell me whether or not we'll make it through this week.  I'm grasping at straws, guessing my way through the fear.  

Of course, this is why I pay my OB the big bucks.  He walked into my OB appointment and said, "Would you rather hear a heartbeat, or see a heartbeat?"  

I love that man.

So while I'm sitting here freaking out over the winter weather moving in, at least I have one bit of comfort to get me through the first day of Hell Week:

A gorgeous picture of my handsome son.  

As my doctor said, "Maybe this will help you get one or two nights sleep this week." 

Here's hoping.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Godzilla Is Coming

When I was a sophomore in high school, we had a foreign exchange student from Japan living with us.  Ayumi was, and still is, awesome, and we learned a lot from each other.  But I always remember the last Japanese words she taught me right before she boarded her plane home - 

"Dameda, dameda!  Godzilla ga kuru!"

Well, I think that's how it went.  But that's exactly what it sounded like.  My friend Matt had insisted she teach us how the Japanese in the old movies would say "Run, run!  Godzilla is coming!"  Somehow, in high school, this seemed extremely important.  

This week, it's even more important.  Because a scary monster has just crept ashore, and it's time to run.

For starters, I'm sick.  Not flu sick, but just south of there, where all I can manage to do is get dressed in jammies in between hot showers and hacking fits.  Sick enough that they gave preggo some strong meds.  And during one of my crying jags brought on by chills and pain, I said to Mike, "I haven't been this sick since Carpenter died."  

For a mom who lost her first son to an undefined infection, I am not comforted by the doctor's assurance that the undefined infection I have today will not hurt Matthew.  In fact, that assurance just made me mad.  Because this woman knows how quickly it can go from zero to sixty.  So the fear and the grief and the pain all stare me in the face each time I blow my nose.  ...which would be bad enough, but...

We've almost reached Carpenter's gestational age when he died.  Carpenter was 23/6.  Matthew is 22/1.  So now I'm doubly worried that maybe my body can't handle this part of pregnancy.  Or maybe it's the winter coupled with this gestational age.  Today it feels like a deadline is looming.  In two weeks, I know I'll feel like every day is living on borrowed time.  My feet are never on solid ground. ...which is enough to freak me out, but...

It's almost Carpenter's birthday.  Everyone always tells you that the days or weeks leading up are worse than the actual day.  You apparently work yourself into a frenzy, worrying how the day will go, and it's never as bad as you can imagine.  And I just want to skip February altogether.  But I want a huge celebration.  But I want to hide, and be alone.  But I don't want anyone to forget.  But I don't want to remember.  So I'm being pulled under by the looming date.  ...which is exhausting in itself, but...

The worst thing happened this week.  A dear friend, who was due just a week before Matthew with her hopeful-rainbow, went into the hospital for contractions.  After a lengthy stay and tons of rest, she went into labor at 23 weeks and 6 days.  Her gorgeous son lived over 12 hours before he slipped away in the NICU.  And just like that, I was slapped with our children's mortality once again.  I tried my damnedest not to make her pain about me.  I spoke to her as often as she wanted, and tried to be the support she needed.  But I don't even think she fell for it.  She told me yesterday she was sorry that this must be scaring me.  I assured her, honestly, that my fears didn't matter, and she deserved support.  

But I'm scared to death.  

Last week, I was just sitting by the sea, looking out on the horizon, hopeful.  This week, a huge, scaly fear-monster has emerged from the water, coming straight at me.  Grief has reared its giant head and is reaching out with its claws.  

And all I can do is yell "Run, run!  Godzilla is coming!"