Tag Archives: child loss

Baby steps.

I started this entry a few weeks ago but didn’t find the time to finish it…even so, I thought that it might be good to post it in its incomplete form to capture how I was feeling just days before baby #2 entered the world. I thought that other people may be able to relate to it if they ever find themselves trying again.

38 weeks and 3 days. 4 days until induction. Still scared. Still haven’t packed the required hospital bag. Still haven’t affixed the carseat properly into my car. Still haven’t gone through the baby items tucked away in the basement. I planned on doing it every day for the past few weeks. So why haven’t I moved any faster? It’s partially because I’m tired. Somewhat because I’m hurting in several places. Mostly because I’m afraid to do this all again. To go all in. To prepare for the future when all I can think of is how I had no control over events of the past. What will make this time any different?

That being said, I actually managed to take a few encouraging steps today. I stripped the crib mattress and washed some of the new clothes I recently purchased. I had Chris bring the pack and play upstairs so that I could put it together again. This was the biggest hurdle for me. I constructed it days before Rylan passed, just 17 months ago. Going through the motions of preparing to bring another baby home introduces a wave of uncomfortable feelings. A sort of déja vu. It immediately brings me back to how I felt when I walked through our front door, empty-handed, to a home full of baby items that would never be used. The sheeted crib and bassinet. An assortment of newly-washed bottles placed in the cupboard. The assembled stroller in the corner of the room. The changing table, fully stocked with creams, wipes, and neatly stacked diapers. The star-projection night light and crib aquarium prepared to soothe sleepless nights. All of us ready to go and without our purpose to fulfill. Our home felt as empty as my heart.

Getting pregnant again was really the biggest commitment in this whole process and it felt like a simple decision. The need in my soul to be active parents outweighed my fears. I’ve made it this far and now I find myself fretting over the final to-dos…

 

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What to expect when you’re expecting…the worst.

I don’t believe that there are any mother-to-be books out there that enlighten readers on the darker, unforeseen happenings that can occur during pregnancy. I’m almost sure of it. My husband and I took a trip to Barnes and Noble recently and as I stood uncomfortably in front of the “Parenting” section I read the covers of several books that touted key insights to child planning, successful deliveries, and “beautiful beginnings.” I remember paging through a few of them during my first pregnancy and don’t remember any chapters that discussed the possibility of losing a child. Nobody warned me that you could reach 40 weeks, progress into natural labor, and leave the hospital empty-handed. I thought the most difficult part of pregnancy would be getting pregnantwhich, in our case, ended up being the easiest part. Not once did I see the word “stillbirth” in writing, nor did I hear anyone speak it out loud, before May 12, 2013. Since that time I’ve learned that 1 in 160 pregnancies in the United States result in stillbirth. Unlike what I’ve heard from most medical professionals, the occurrence of stillbirth sounds far from “rare” to me.

While 37 weeks pregnant with our second baby and full of uncertainty, I scanned the shelves for “what to expect in the first year of parenthood” books. I contemplated my upcoming purchase for 20 minutes as I stood there in a frozen gaze, covers of happy moms and dads holding their newborns staring back at me. I may as well have been standing in the “fiction” section for how surreal those images were at that moment. Here I am with only a short time before active parenthood finds its way into my arms and I still can’t believe that it’s 100% achievable. I’m actually afraid to buy a book that has anything to do with planning because I’m superstitious that my small purchase (and tiny shred of confidence) will bring about a flop in the universe, causing us to lose another child. I wrestled with my craziness for awhile, grabbed up one of the well-known titles, and tucked it under my arm. Another obstacle overcome.

It doesn’t seem fair. Not that we lost a child. Not that we lose more than our children. We lose our way. We lose hope, and for some, the will to live. Connections to people we love—to the world around us. We lose ourselves—who we thought we were. In the face of loss we must rally ourselves to keep moving—and do it with a forced smile. We sober up to the fact that life can hand you rotten limes and still expect you to make lemonade. That’s how I feel at this moment. While personal experience urges me to approach this pregnancy with the utmost fear and uncertainty, life is asking me to proceed with confidence and faith.

Wow, Life, you’re asking a hell of a lot. Count me in.

All for love.

36 weeks tomorrow. So close, yet so far.

I’m exhausted. My body hurts. Well, at least it’s only when I sit, stand, walk, and lay down for bed. But only then. LOL. I’m so physically and emotionally ready to have this baby that I can’t even put it into words. I’ve been kick counting, but no longer tracking them on the worksheet that I received from the doctor. I might go back to it. I feel bad that I stopped, but it was making me crazier than I already felt inside. When the baby’s patterns changed I thought that I was losing the baby slowly over a few days. I couldn’t stop worrying. It was terrifying. I decided to take a break from formal tracking. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m always on high alert and making sure that I feel movement for a good bit every 2-3 hours.

The last few weeks have significantly grown more difficult. I remember saying that I would be just as devastated whether I lost another baby at 10 weeks or 40, but sitting here now I can honestly say that a loss at this point would be much worse. I think there is even more at stake this late in the game. The doctors want to see me through to 39 weeks, as it’s best for the baby’s development. I wish they could induce me now, while I know B is living and breathing. At every visit I ask my doctor (or maybe plead with him) to consider 38 weeks, but he just shakes his head and encourages me to hang in there.

I’m scared that my body is going to go into labor before my induction date. That’s actually an understatement. I’m so freaked out that I could cry just thinking about it. Last time we went into natural labor at home, drove to the hospital, and received the shocking news that Ry was gone after we were admitted. I’m so afraid that it will happen all over again, and in the exact same way. A perfect checkup appointment followed by loss a few days later. I’m also scared about the labor and delivery. Last time was so painful and my body dilated faster than the nurses and doctor expected—so much so that they didn’t perform an internal exam right away. I believe it only took about an hour. I couldn’t get an epidural until they pumped enough fluids in me—which felt like a lifetime. I can honestly say that I endured the worst emotional and physical pain of my life that night. I relive that night in my head often and don’t want a repeat with baby #2. I just hope and pray that this experience is a positive one with a happier ending for my family.

If everything goes as the doctors expect I should be induced around October 6th or 7th. We visit the specialist’s office twice a week for non-stress tests (NSTs) and receive an ultrasound at one of them to check the fluid level around the baby. We’re also due for a growth check this week. Our regular OB appointments occur once a week for a heartbeat and urine check and to discuss any issues with the doctor. I can’t say that we aren’t heavily monitored. It makes me feel better every time we go. I need as much reassurance as I can get these days to keep my sanity—at least what’s left of it.

All of these appointments make balancing work difficult. It’s hard to leave on time on normal days but when I’m coming in late and leaving early in order to make all of these appointments it’s even harder. By the time I get home (usually around 7-7:30) I’m absolutely exhausted. The truth is, I’m beat before I even waddle out of the front door in the morning. My body hurts no matter what position I’m in and I’m constantly at battle with my head, trying to keep all of my fears in check. I just keep telling myself, “it’s only a little bit longer.”

Even though we kept several baby items from our previous preparations for Ry, I haven’t yet retrieved them from their tucked away place in the basement. Honestly, I’m afraid to go through that stack of tupperware bins. Chris and I often procrastinate and had put together the pack and play, stroller, and secured the carseat in place just days before I went into labor last time. Seeing all of those empty items strewn about our house, among the other shower items we received, was so painful after we lost him. I feel like I need to be prepared for a positive outcome this time but am leery to set everything in place again for fear of the worst. I hate that we’re in this position. Parents who haven’t lost a child can fully embrace pregnancy. They decide they want to have a baby, get pregnant, get showered, and take home a living, breathing baby following delivery—often multiple times. I miss being naive to what can happen. I miss a time when my biggest worries included whether I’d be able to figure out breastfeeding, how I’d handle contractions during labor, and if I picked the right diaper cream. Granted, some of those thoughts, among others, are naturally in the back of my mind—but I’m more confident that they will work themselves out this time. I feel like it’s crucial for me to be positive and hopeful that B2K will survive. I wish I could live in that expectation, but as humans I think we’re built to learn from our past experiences. The only experience I have to pull from as a mother is being devastated and losing my child at the finish line. I want this to work out so badly.

When people talk to me about “when the baby comes” I’m tired of avoiding conversation and correcting them with negative, “if everything goes okay,” responses. I’m tired of asking people to be positive for me. I want to be able say “when,” too, without being so scared that all will be taken away if I’m too confident. My back is killing me from walking on eggshells these past nine months. Last time I felt so blessed, had so much faith in our future with our son. I lost hope when we lost Rylan. It’s difficult to experience so many opposing emotions at the same time. Despite all of the fear and uncertainty I can honestly say that I am excited, too. I’m eager to see B face-to-face and the desire to hold this baby in my arms intensifies with every encouraging movement I feel in my belly.

While all of these feelings about B2K are very present, I continue to miss Rylan and long for him to be physically in our lives, too. It’s very confusing emotionally. All I can say at this point is that I’ve had about the same amount of time to get to know both of my children. And, with regard to taking something away from personal experiences, what I have learned is that being a mother or father is the strongest tie you can have with another human being. I’ve barely had a chance to get to know my babies and yet my love for both of them is so profound it’s nearly indescribable.

 

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Counting the days.

33 weeks along tomorrow.

My second pregnancy has been full of highs and lows. I had quite a scare last weekend and landed myself in the hospital Saturday afternoon for peace-of-mind. I just didn’t feel B2K moving around as much or as pronounced for 2 days and I couldn’t shake the anxiety from my heart and mind that something may be wrong. I had to do something to get reassurance that the baby was okay. The worst part was scaring my husband. When I told him I wanted to get checked out I could see the fear in his eyes immediately. I understood. He didn’t know what I was or wasn’t feeling and for me to bring up a hospital visit out of nowhere was a shock to his system. I felt horrible playing with his emotions that way but I knew that I couldn’t rest until I knew B was undoubtedly healthy. He understood why I needed to do it, too. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if something happened and I hadn’t done anything. It was a long day—mentally exhausting for everyone involved. Following an ultrasound and several hours connected to heart monitors, not to mention some pretty mediocre hospital food, I left that night knowing that our baby was doing well. I can’t begin to explain to you how relieved I was and I will tell you, it was SO worth it.

I’ll be honest, most days it takes all of my energy to manage the craziness in my brain. Between Rylan and B2K (and just life) I’m walking a tightrope of emotions.

I think about Rylan every day and continue to struggle with his death. I still feel empty—like there’s a hole in my heart without him. That something gigantic is missing in our lives and has been for over a year. Sometimes the guilt finds its way to the surface—that I didn’t know what was happening to him while he was in my belly and that I couldn’t prevent his passing. I continue to wear a handful of jewelry that symbolizes him regularly. We have his picture on our bedroom dresser to which I look at every morning and say goodnight to with a kiss on my fingertips every night. Some days it all feels so surreal that I wonder whether it was all just a terrible nightmare. Other days the sadness is so dark, the pain so sharp, that there is no question. It’s funny how much you can miss someone you barely had the chance to know. How deep your love can be. How tragic the loss. I hope people are right. I hope you are reunited with your loved ones in heaven. I would do anything to see him, to hold him, again. It certainly makes the thought of my own departure someday a lot less scary. I will never forget Ry’s face. How great it felt to cradle him. How wonderful it was to kiss his soft cheeks and run my hand over his tiny forehead. How amazing it was to see Chris hold his son’s little, bundled body in his muscular arms. To see our friends and family with him. He is the most beautiful part of my past and the inspiration that drives my future.

I think about B2K every day and continue to do all that I can to protect the little life inside of me. I try to eat often and balance my diet with healthy snacks like fruit, veggies, and yucky yogurt. I take my giant prenatal vitamin every night. I limit sleep positions to my side, mostly on the left because doctors say that’s better for babies. I count movements at least 3 times a day. I admit that I worry a lot. Keeping my anxiety managed is a daily accomplishment. I can’t help but think about our future with B this late in the process. I consider the possibility of having one of our children here with us. I dream about being a mom. About witnessing Chris as an active daddy. About seeing our parents be grandparents. About sharing our 2nd baby with friends and family. I long to get that first glimpse of B’s face and to hear those initial cries and tiny coos. I can’t wait to see those wonderful eyes and feel tiny breaths against my chest that aren’t my own. Something that I think many parents take for granted.  I visualize the days and years that follow B’s birthday. I pray that we get the chance to see this through. To fulfill, what I believe, is my purpose in life.

Being pregnant again is so bittersweet. My excitement is offset with continuous uncertainty. I just want to fast forward to the day we meet B. Besides all of the expected emotional feelings, I’m also growing weary of my physical state. I know that there are women out there who love being pregnant but that is definitely not me. I mean, there are amazing things to note-like being blessed enough to get pregnant in the first place—and certainly feeling the baby move around and having your child with you 24/7. It creates a closeness that only mothers know. Something you can’t explain. I have 2 months left and yet I feel that I am full term. I am one of those rare women with something called symphysis pubic dysfunction, which can be (and is for me) pretty painful and uncomfortable. My best explanation is that the ligaments that keep your pelvic bone aligned become too relaxed and stretchy leading to an unstable pelvic joint. It’s normal for your body to release a hormone called relaxin and to prepare for your baby’s delivery… but unfortunately this reaction can occur early in pregnancy, making it difficult to sit, stand, and lay down. I equate it to what it might feel like to have someone kick you straight in the vagina bone. Pretty much hurts to do most things and the heavier the baby becomes the more discomfort is felt—at least in my case. In my last pregnancy it started about a month before delivery and this time I began to feel the effects somewhere in the 20-somethings as far as weeks go. I go to the bathroom 4-8 times per night and can’t remember the last time I got a full night’s sleep-even before this pregnancy. I’m pooped. I work a lot and have a long commute. I live for the weekends and can’t wait to get to the finish line.

Enough of the complaints. I just had a lot to get some of that off my chest. I am so thankful to have another chance at being an active mom and truly hope it happens. I look forward to the day that I can write and tell all of you that my sleepless nights are the result of a hungry baby in my arms. My fingers are crossed, hands are clasped tight in prayer…holding my breath (in a matter of speaking). Thank you for all of your positive thoughts. It means so much to me. I hope you’re all getting by as best as you can and that the sun shines on you and your families today, tomorrow, and in the days that follow.

Great expectations.

We are 31 weeks along with B2K. The further we get into the pregnancy, the more nervous and scared I become. I didn’t realize it would be this way—I just imagined the whole experience would be scary. As time moves on, the stakes feel higher. All of the expectations that I try to keep at bay seem to find their way into my heart and mind. Every time we have an ultrasound of the baby I feel excited—nervous and frightened—but excited for what the future may bring. It’s difficult to stop from daydreaming about parenthood. All of those feelings that I had for my Rylan are resurfacing, and stronger. One thing I’ve learned is that remaining detached and having no expectations for my family’s future is impossible. Even if I could consciously block out those thoughts, I know that any loss with this pregnancy would be horrible. It wouldn’t be any less devastating than losing my Rylan.

I started kick counting within the past few weeks which I’ve found elevates my fear. I try to manage it, but it’s not easy. Kick counting helps to ensure that you are feeling enough movements throughout a day, but it also helps you to see a pattern of when those movements occur. I tend to freak out a little when those movements don’t happen at the same time of day or as frequent around those times. In the first week I found myself having one of those days. I was at work and started to panic. I decided to take a moment to step into one of the empty offices to lay down on my left side and concentrate. I talked to the baby. I prayed for movement. Luckily, I felt enough to ease my mind and get me back to the job. I received two different handouts explaining kick counting-one from my OB and one from the specialist we’re seeing. They both discussed the importance of feeling your baby’s movements but also explained how to do it a bit differently. One sheet instructs me to ensure that I feel 10 movements in 1 day, and to track how many hours it takes to hit that golden number. It includes a tracking chart on the back. The other sheet recommends that you should feel 10 movements in about 2 hours. So, what I’ve decided to do is a compromise between both. I xeroxed the sheet to have three. One for morning, one for afternoon, and one for evening. I ensure that I feel 10 movements within 2-3 hours. It can be intense but it helps me to focus on movements all day, especially staying on track on my busiest days. So far, so good. I believe kick counting is so important-not just for people who have lost a child but all pregnant women. Anything that seems irregular should initiate an immediate conversation with your doctor’s office.

After losing Ry I noticed how many people recommended (and swore by) counting your baby’s movements during pregnancy—I could not believe that my last OB office never even mentioned it to us the first time around. Looking back I can remember how they made me feel like our situation was so rare. That in their practice they maybe had 2-3 patients over the years who had lost babies to stillbirth. It made me feel so singled out and abnormal. They weren’t intentionally mean, but I definitely walked out of there feeling even more alone, like I did something wrong. Now, after all that we’ve been through—after all that I’ve read online about other parents who’ve lost their babies to stillbirth—I just see them as uneducated and overconfident. I can’t even tell you how happy I am to have found my new OB/GYN office. They have been so nice and accommodating throughout our second pregnancy. They are so sensitive to what we’ve gone through (and continue to go through) and are so reassuring and hopeful for our future. Some days I think I might return to the old office just to tell them how they can improve on their communication and patient relations following a tragedy—although they’d probably just dismiss me and consider me mad.

I’m proud to say that I’ve taken some steps forward—despite fears over another potential loss and the confusion over how to prepare for B2K and make this baby special without losing Rylan (or feel like I’m dismissing him) in the process. We revisited the nursery by changing just a few things. We exchanged the darker curtains that had been left hanging for a brighter, white and green pair. I traded out the “baby’s things” baskets that were overflowing with books and a half-empty toy box for a bookshelf that I assembled last weekend. It felt good to arrange the books and toys, consolidating some of the clutter and brightening up the room. I’m also adding a mobile to the room, which I am creating myself. It’s going to include 3 clouds made of felt, with hanging raindrops made out of small crystals. I will definitely post a photo of it later, assuming that my attempt at this art project is a success. So far I made the first cloud yesterday. 🙂

Well, I have to run. Well, maybe waddle is a better way to describe how I’m moving around these days. I promise to keep you posted as we get closer to B2K and thank you for being a part of our journey.

 

 

 

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

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Tragedy: a shocking or sad event; disaster

I was in shock the night they told us Rylan had no heartbeat. 428 days later and my mind and heart continue to be twisted over the loss.

Grief: keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret

Sometimes I feel tired, weak, and numb. Full of guilt, regret, sorrow, and despair. I want to cry just to get it out of my system but the well is dry. Other days a single moment will knock the wind out of me, so to speak, and I’m sure I could cry for hours (if I succumb to the sadness). A 24-hour battle of emotions stirs inside of me regularly. Some are warm. Love for my son. Memories of having him moving around in my belly. The urge to do something positive for others in his memory. But, unfortunately, many emotions are darker. When life is simpler, you often don’t need to look hard for that silver lining—mostly you just feel the sunshine. A tragedy in your life is like a natural disaster that shakes up the forecast of life. Surprising, devastating, and forever changing the landscape around you.

Jealousy: feeling resentment against someone because of that person’s rivalry, success, or advantages

Since Rylan died, I feel plagued by jealously. I hate it. I’m not proud of it. But I know that it is also beyond my control. Everywhere I go I’m forced to interact with people who don’t know a loss like ours. At least it usually feels that way. I know that people like us are out there— I read about them—but in my daily routine it’s easy to forget that they exist. I feel like I’ve been appointed a spectator in my own life. An observer to normal families. The ones where children survive. It hurts so deeply and although I don’t want to be someone else—I like me and I love my family—I just wish that I was able to be the mom that I thought I was going to become last year. I wish that Ry was still alive, so badly. I miss him so much. I wish that Chris and I were sharing parenthood right now. Instead, I sit back and watch (what feels like) everyone around us as they continue living with and growing their families.

I watch our siblings interact with their kids. I listen as they update us on their activities and achievements. I listen to friends and acquaintances talk about the funny things their little ones do, how they make them laugh. I hear stories about other moms and dads, both good and bad. People at work talk about kids camps and vacations. Kids are oohed and ahed steps from my cube almost weekly. Pictures of newborns are shared through work email. At the mall I scrutinize the endless parade of strollers that roll by me at I stand there empty handed. I study the mom leaning over her baby boy at the gas station—my eyes connect with his as she tends to the pump. Everywhere I go I’m in awe of babies and yearn to have my son back. I feel jealous of the moms and dads that have another day with their child/children. Another moment to share at the water cooler tomorrow. One more bedtime story to read tonight. Another chance to hold their hand, hug them, and kiss their face. One more morning routine. Another chance to keep them safe. One more spoken I love you.

I feel like our future with Rylan just slipped through our fingers. It is so difficult knowing that we were so close. That I made it through the pregnancy triathlon just to trip and fall on my face an inch before the finish line. All of those natural, yet naive, expectations waiting on the other side just disappeared like a mirage within seconds. How do you stand up and keep going after that? How do you move forward when you know that time and distance will take you farther away from what was suppose to be? More separated from the baby you love? And how do you try for parenthood in the future in the face of such a tremendous loss? All I can say is that I take one day at a time. I try not to make plans or set too many expectations. I’m scared a lot.

Courage: the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery

Parents who’ve lost a child (at any age) who continue to move forward may not feel it, but they have courage—even if they are insecure and stumble along the way. It takes courage to put distance between you and your loss—especially when it feels like you’re adding space between you and your loved one. In some ways we feel like we have no choice but to move forward. I feel like getting up in the morning, getting dressed, doing the things you don’t feel like doing (like going to work, paying bills, being social with others) proves that life isn’t just moving you forward—you are. It takes endurance to work through your grief, especially when you can’t pause time and focus only on your loss (and most of us wish we could). I want you to remember that it takes guts to keep going. Remember to give yourself (and others experiencing a similar loss) a pat on the back sometimes. You deserve it.

Thank you for stopping by and for taking the time to hear me out. Please try to keep your head up—the weather has to be more promising tomorrow. 🙂

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Participation requested.

I love and miss my first baby, Rylan, so much. I think of him every day.

I love our second baby so much and think of B2K every day.

I also think of all of the other angel babies and parents out there who love them. I think it might be nice to post a list sometime soon of all of the babies of parents, grandparents, etc, who visit my site, to honor their memories. Please feel free to send me the name of your angel baby, their birthday, along with your name (if you’d like to include it), and a message you want to send to them or the world about your baby. I’d love to use my blog to post your sentiments.

Please send your names and/or messages to my email: meggok512@gmail.com.

Thank you for your participation!

Sincerely,
Megan