Monday, October 26, 2009

When I was in the hospital, I started thinking about a woman I met on a message board. We both lost our first children, boys, to stillbirth. We both had miscarriages. We both then had out daughters around the same time. We would email on occasion and I lost track of her. I sent her an email while in the hospital, just saying hi. Checking in. I didn't say anything about my pregnancy, just wanted to touch base with her at that point. She hadn't posted on our message board in forever, and hadn't posted on her blog in months.

I didn't hear back, no biggie. It had been well over 6 months since we last emailed. Maybe I had her email wrong.

Soon after coming home with Cole, I found her blog again one late night during a 3am feeding.

She had posted again. It had been months since she posted...and her news was not good. She was 20 weeks pregnant, with her second son.

And he died.

Right at the time I was giving birth to Cole, she was having to make decisions and choices and going through the loss of her second son.

She is living my worst nightmare. I haven't been able to get her off of my mind. She hasn't returned to her blog and given the vast internet and the fact I don't know her that well, I doubt we will ever talk again. But my heart aches. This is a stillbirth mom's worst fear. All those people who say it can't happen again. Wrong. Those doctors who say it is a fluke. Wrong. It can and does happen again. Her losses were at different gestations, one at 34 weeks, one at 20 weeks. But does it really matter?

She is done having kids. She has one living child when she wanted a houseful. She threw caution to the wind over and over to have her children and was hit in the face. Again. Having a living child inside of you and having it die inside of you. Again.

I am just...at a loss. It is easy for me to say, because I am sitting here with my living son when I know she is going through hell, again. But I do ache for her. I ache for her family and the nightmare she living. Once is more than enough. Why twice? I just will never understand.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Just a quick note to let you know our 2nd son was born screaming on 10/6/09. Almost a month early but he has been doing great with no NICU time.

Something of a dramatic delivery as his heartrate dropped and they moved fast. So fast Craig wasn't even back there yet (they were still preppingme for surgery so he was waiting) and missed the actual birth. That was a little sad but when the doctors say it needs to happen, so be it!

He looks identical to Claudia when she was a newborn. Who looked a lot like Curtis! He is already eating like a champ and as long as I am healing okay we should go home on Friday or Saturday.

Emotional, but amazing!!

Friday, October 2, 2009

I am checking in, briefly. Still in the hospital, still okay.

Anxiety is rough though. I honestly expected this pregnancy to be easier than Claudia's and it hasn't It is like the last 3 and a half years of the aftermath of losing Curtis, grieving, Claudia's pregnancy and this pregnancy are finally all coming to a head.

It is rough.

But I am hanging in, he is hanging in.

Trying to push the fears aside...and the fears just don't surround the baby this time, it surrounds me and my well being and, quite frankly, is very scary.

Hanging in, like I said.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Blogging. Live. From the hospital.

Yup. Soon after my last entry, I was sent to the hospital after monitoring showed something was up. I was monitored continuously for about 4 days, met with some high risk docs, and it was decided based on my history and my tendency towards pre eclampsia and my increasing numbers in that region that I should just stay put until the baby is born.

Am I upset? No.
Am I bored? Not yet.
Is the food okay? Eh...

:)

Seriously, I am in good spirits. It isn't ideal, I hate being away from Claudia but ever since we learned this baby has a cord issue and my panic attacks set in, I have been a pretty cruddy mom anyway. It is better for me to be here, anxiety in check thanks to a lot of monitoring, and knowing at any moment they could get this baby out if needed.

I do stare at pictures of Claudia a lot. When she came to visit on Sunday I got NERVOUS to see her. Mainly because I knew she wouldn't react well. She was confused, she wanted to run the halls... Yes, she gave me a hug and wanted "up" but was off and running again and got pretty crabby only 30 minutes into the visit. Oh well. It is okay.

I remember my niece visiting my sis in law who was on bed rest in the hospital reacting the same way. Luckily Claudia is very much still in the "love the one you are with" kind of stage. She has been spending time with grandparents on BOTH sides...who adore her as much as we do and have really stepped up to help us out.

The other hard part is being that I see a doctor 90+ minutes away from where we live, there is no one local to come visit me on a regular basis. Plus, when I got sent in on Friday night, I missed my parent's anniversary party on Saturday. The 40th anniversary party I planned and paid for and worked so hard on....luckily it still went off without a hitch and I think everyone had a great time. I am not pouting about it too much it is just my parent's have given me SO much, I wanted to be there to give them something back.

I am not on strict bed rest, I get monitored about 4 times a day but they want me up and walking. I have a feeling I will be spending a lot of time in the gift shop. And online shopping. Claudia's bday is in 2 months and I can start to plan that.

Right now, an amnio is scheduled for 10/9 and if this little dude's lungs are mature, out he will come. That is 2 weeks from today. Did I mention that nothing is prepared at home? As in... nothing. But, I am okay with it. I really am. The control freak in me really wants his room DONE. The bouncy seat back from my sis in law's house, the bottles cleaned...oh, the infant car seat? I have no idea where the newborn insert is and that means I am going to have to try to get Craig to find it.

But, all in due time. None of that is "important". Right now, we will just hope for the best and be thankful I am able to be here.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Just checking in really quick, whoa. This pregnancy is kicking my butt. So far, baby boy is hanging in okay, monitoring is going okay...we have had some ups and downs but HE seems to be doing well in this moment. It is very much on a day to day basis and can, and probably will, change at the drop of a hat.

Me? Not so much. I am being monitored pretty heavily for pre-eclampsia (I had it with Claudia, but after she was born which was scary enough.) I have had a general unwell feeling for weeks, anxiety attacks, racing heart, whatever. I was on a heart monitor for awhile.

It has been bad. I can't really take care of Claudia on my own. I pretty much just lay low each day, hoping it passes so we can get to mid October and hopefully have a screaming baby in our arms. It is really hard not to feel physically good because in both of my previous pregnancies (Curtis and Claudia) I have physically felt really well.

Weighing on my mind these last few weeks has been preschool. I have a lot of friends with 3 year olds who all started preschool in the last few weeks. Would Curtis have started preschool? Would he have been ready? A simple 2 or 3 day a week program? Would he be potty trained? What would it have been like to drop him off on his first days?

I see pictures. Grinning kids, too big smiles, backpacks the same size as them. What kind of backpack would he have picked? Would he cry when we dropped him off or would he have ran straight ahead without a glance back?

It is hard to picture him as a 3 year old. He is so much my tiny baby still, the tiny baby I was so afraid to hold and move. The tiny baby who I only saw his face.... my tiny baby who should at least have had the option of going to preschool this year.

Monday, September 7, 2009

I don't even know where to begin.

I don't even want to blog (obviously, since I haven't posted since August 21st...) but my anxiety and stress are at an all time high. I admit, I am not handling it well, at all. When we returned from meeting with the research doctor I knew we had a long road in front of us. My anxiety and stress has always been there. Through Claudia's pregnancy it was hard. I admit.

The beginning of this pregnancy was easier. It really was. Then we hit viability and I started getting more anxious again. A lot sleepless nights. Waking and pacing the house until I felt the baby move. Afraid to pull out the doppler in case....well, in case there was no heartbeat to be found.

After coming back home from our trip where we learned this guy had a cord issue, I had to go to the hospital one night. It wasn't so much for the baby, it was for me. My heart was racing, I was dizzy...my blood pressure was up. We went to a local hospital, close by, not one where my OB is. I actually knew the baby was fine, I just was worried about myself. What was going on? The monitored the heck out of the baby, gave us ultrasounds, and basically sent me home. I was pretty upset as I know they chalked it up to anxiety barely running any tests on me and figured it would calm me down to run tests on the baby. Yeah, not really. I did have a few tests run (after hours of being there) and they thoughts things were fine, but my OB didn't like the results of my thyroid levels and put me on a low dose of meds. An out of whack thyroid can cause light headed stuff/heart racing stuff.

I don't know what to think anymore. I have no idea what is "in my head" and what is real. I have had times where I feel my heart race increase again. I haven't felt like myself. I have a hard time being the only one in charge of Claudia because I am so afraid of having some type of panic set it. Saturday Craig was taking a nap and I got Claudia up from her nap and as she was eating a snack I started to feel very panicky. I paced around the house, breathing quickly through my mouth, trying to calm myself down. .

Actually, it was kind of funny because Claudia started to imitate my breathing from her chair.

It lasted on and off that evening. I don't even know if my heart was racing much, but I just had this overall unsettled feeling. During these times I am constantly jumping up and pacing.

During the times it isn't happening, I am wondering when it is going to happen again. I am quickly seeing why people become agoraphobic and refuse to leave their house. I am not keen on leaving the comfort of my house right now. Claudia is still attending daycare and when I pick her up at 4:30 each day, I stress until Craig comes home. Just in case it happens again. On Wednesdays we don't have daycare...she has been going to my mom's because I am afraid of being alone with her.

Do you know how bad that sucks? I am her mom and I am afraid to be alone with her. I cried today as her and Craig went to the mall playland without me. I was tired and napping and she needed to go run....but, I knew I couldn't handle being out. Not now.

Monitoring this guy has been stressful, we have had some ups and downs with it....that isn't helping my anxiety. Looking back, Claudia's monitoring each night was a dream! (Didn't feel like it at the time, but she was.) She was the perfect baby on the monitors and this guy has decided to give us all a lot more headaches. We have been close to being sent in to the hospital a few times now.

So.... that is where I am at. I keep telling myself I will take all the anxiety in the world to avoid the grief later. And, I am hoping this is just it..I am hoping it is anxiety manifesting itself into physical symptoms. It never happened in Claudia's pregnancy or any other area of my life. I have ALWAYS been an anxious person. Always. Always the worrier. But it has never set in where I am physically pacing the house, racing heart rate, trying to talk myself "down". So, I am hoping to goes away when this guy comes. Hopefully in a bit over 5 weeks.

Please, let that be it. Because if this continues after this baby is born...I don't know anymore. I will not take anti anxiety meds while pregnant, no way, no how. After I will would try them though if this continues.

Friday, August 21, 2009

I am seriously slacking here, but for a good reason. This pregnancy has become very all consuming.

We have discovered this little guy has a cord issue, which is keeping in line with the research that shows cord issues can and do repeat. (yes! There is research! No, cord accidents are not flukes.)

I know I haven't gotten to the point in 'our story' where I talk about working with the research doctor and nightly monitoring...but we are doing it again in this pregnancy and just started it recently, where we discovered this little guy's cord issue. I took the news hard, but determined.

It is hard. It is hard knowing the same issue that took Curtis' life is repeating, yet again, in this pregnancy. But at the same time I KNOW this time, I know how to monitor it, I have the tools to prevent it. Just like with Claudia. I know we prevented a disaster last time and it was all worth it.

It is still very exhausting to go through this again.

I am off of work now, I made it 9 weeks longer than I did with Claudia, but with the anxiety and many appointments each week, it is just better to have my work not count on me until after the baby comes and my thoughts are not constantly is-he-still-alive-inside-of-me.

So, that is where I am at. BUT...now that I am off of work, I really will have some time during the day to blog a bit, I would love to get Claudia's story finished up before this little guy comes. Because I am going to want to write his story too!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Our Story: Part 27

After hearing the h/b (left off after hearing the heartbeat around 12 weeks in my pregnancy after losing Curtis and my miscarriage).

So, Craig wanted to tell people. I did too, sorta. I mean...telling people meant questions. Telling people meant causing THEM worry. Telling people meant it being OUT THERE.

There was also the issue with the doctor. I never wanted to see my old OB, the one I had with Curtis, again. While I don't blame him for what happened to Curtis, I do blame him for the cruddy way he handled the loss, the way he handled my miscarriage, and the way he handled my new pregnancy. (Saying "We will do nothing different this time" did not sit well. Isn't that the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result?)

Thanks to the conference, I had learned there were a few doctors out there open to the emerging research about cord issues repeating. I was given the names of two. One, I was told, would be there. She wouldn't just pretend to believe me, she would be me. She was amazing. I was told to go to her, despite the fact it would be close to a 2 hour drive to see her each time. The other doctor, I was told, was just as good. But a little bit more unreachable. A little bit more clinical. She would work with us, but I got the feeling she was more humoring her patients. She was much closer in location.

I did not want to be humored. Craig wanted the doctor who was closer. Who cared if she humored us as long as we got answers? I didn't want someone to pat me on the head, roll her eyes, and order me the tests. I wanted someone who believe me. I didn't want to fight. I didn't want to have to dig in my heels and insist.

I just wanted it to happen. Craig agreed to meet with the far away doctor, because it is what I wanted. I guess, in a way, he was humoring me. I emailed this doctor and we set up an appointment for 14 weeks. Just 2 weeks away.

In the mean time, my mom's birthday approached. She ended up being alone the weekend of her birthday due to some crazy circumstances that my dad had gotten himself roped into. Craig and I offered to take her out to dinner. My grandparents decided to come along, then asked if she could change the time of her birthday dinner so they could scoot off to another party.

My poor mom. First my dad has to leave on her birthday, then her birthday dinner time gets moved...she was feeling pretty bummed.

I informed Craig we should tell. I wasn't sure if I was quite ready. But I figured she would love the surprise and the first of getting to "know". I bought a birthday card for her that said "To Grandma". I signed it "Love, Curtis and Baby #2 due in December."

We arrived at my parent's house and were lingering around, waiting to leave for dinner.

"Open your cards!" I insisted. I thrust the grandma on in her hands.

My stomach was in knots. My heart was racing.

She opened it and stared.

And stared.

She was squinting at it.

She didn't have her glasses on. She was trying to figure out what it said.

'What is it I am reading?" She asked.

Sigh. Typical. Big huge news and she couldn't read it.

"Happy Birthday. Love, Curtis and Baby #2 Due in ...."

She let out a scream like I have NEVER heard before. It wasn't really an excited scream. It wasn't terrified. It was just a SCREAM. She dropped the card, buried her head in her hands and started to sob. Hysterical sobs.

I looked at Craig. He looked at me. "Hug her." He mouthed to me.

I shook my head no. I had no idea what this reaction was. Was it good? Was it bad? What was it?

After a few moments she flung her arms around us. "I thought that is what it said! But I wasn't sure. I thought maybe you signed the dog's name to it! I didn't want to assume."

I was overwhelmed at her excitement. I thought the news would be met with more reservations. Excitement, but cautious. Not this unbridled all out happiness.

We went to dinner and shared the news with my grandparents. Later that afternoon, while my dad was on his way home, my mom called him and made me tell him the news over the phone. He later told me it was hard to stay on the road when he had tears in his eyes.

We left my parent's house and Craig was practically bouncing out of his seat. "Can we go to my family now?"

I couldn't deny him this. We had told my family, there was a good reaction....but i felt that headache setting in. That overwhelming feeling. The "what have we done" emotions rolling in.

We live a good 50 minutes away from my inlaws. We usually just don't 'show up' out of the blue. However, they didn't seem phased that we were on their step at 8pm on a Sunday night. My mother in law starts telling us a crazy story that happened earlier in the day to her and my father in law. It was a pretty funny story but it kept going and going. She was totally oblivious we had news to share. The longer the story went, the more my throat felt like it was closing.

Craig finally had enough. When his mom stopped to take a breath, he jumped in and said "Well, do you want some more news?"

My father in law put down his glass of brandy, very serious, and said "Yes." quite loudly.

"The due date is in December."

The response was overwhelming. A lot of hugs, happy tears, and more hugs. Lots of questions. His mom saying 'Why did you let me talk for so long? Geesh! I just kept talking and talking!" We walked across the street to where my brother in law and sister in law live and told them the news.

Everyone was SO happy.

We left our inlaws and Craig called another one of his brothers and told them the news. Lots of celebrating on their end.

After he hung up the phone, I burst into tears. It was all so...so....soooo much. I wasn't expecting it all. I was expecting them to be excited, yes, but I wasn't expecting such an outpouring of emotion. I was expecting them to be cautious or worried (which I am sure they were...) but they were so happy. In that moment, they were happy.

As we drove on the car, I continued to cry. The headache came on full force. Now they were all involved. Now it meant this was real. We were traveling down this road together. Now if something sad happened again, it meant bringing them down with us. But they needed to know. They deserved to know. We needed the support. They had been wonderful in supporting and remembering Curtis with us. But it was hard. Just so hard. I didn't want them disappointed again.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Hi.

How are you?

It has been a long few weeks. Good things, scary things, More good though.

I need to jump into the here and now though. As always, I will return to the Our Story posts because I like getting all of this down, but I also want to talk about something that has been weighing on my mind, very heavily.

As I mentioned previously, I am pregnant. I am a little over 22 weeks and a few weeks ago we have our "big" 20 week ultrasound. By big, I mean we find out the gender. We find out how everything in the pregnancy is progressing. I have a Level II which is a 'high risk' one where they take and even more in depth look at the baby.

I had this appointment, June 18th, booked for over 2 months. That date lingered in my mind. I was sitting at my friend's wedding on April 18th thinking "two months from today...". Work documents, commercials, any talk about mid June my mind went to the ultrasound.

I haven't blogged about this yet, but at 20 weeks with Claudia was where things got very stressful. So that was always on my mind.

Enter June 18th. Craig and I both took the day off and headed to my ultrasound. We had a scare earlier in the week as well where I heard some fetal arrhythmia's on my home doppler. I was freaked out. I had talked to my doctor, they would make sure to do a fetal echo cardiogram on the ultrasound. They would figure it all out.

There we were. Me, on this table in a darkened room. A screen in front of me. The tech was all chatty. "Are you going to find out the gender?"

"Uh, yeah."

Gender? Great, yes, finding out the gender is fun. But what I wanted to tell her is "I want to find out if the baby is healthy."

Realistically, I know this ultrasound can't predict a healthy, living, full term pregnancy. I have multiple perfect ultrasounds with Curtis and we didn't take him home. But, in that moment I wanted to know everything is okay.

A few minutes into the ultrasound, she scans between the legs. Now, thanks to my years on baby message boards I have seen a lot of ultrasound pictures. Plus, I have had a boy and a girl ultrasounds. If given a clear shot, I can tell.

"That is a boy."

I was the one who said it, even before the tech got the words out. I saw it, and I do mean IT, clear as a day. No mistaking. Craig grinned and said "How did you even know what you were looking at?"

I don't care about gender. I honestly don't. But I was shocked. Hard core shocked. I was convinced the baby was going to be a girl. I had a feeling after we lost Curtis, not a bad feeling, but just a feeling I would only have girls. I did wonder, deep down, if this baby would be a boy. But I was fairly certain it was a girl. I didn't care. I had images of toddlers in matching Christmas dresses and teenage girls fighting over the bathroom.

The next hour the tech took all the measurements, telling me what looked good, what she was measuring. The doctor came in, started jabbering away, saying he looked 100% healthy and we had nothing to worry about. He also said some total jerky stuff like "Bad things don't happen twice." (um, why don't you talk to women who have had multiple stillbirths, then? Because there are women who have had this happen twice.) He also said it was "Better to have the girl first." Which just isn't factually true for us, we had the boy first.

But...I was in a good mood. The baby, in this moment, looked healthy. We found out the gender. We wanted to celebrate as a couple. So, I didn't say anything. Because this doctor I would never see again (he is not my doctor, he belongs to the high risk group). I just wanted the hell out of that room.

Craig and I carried on our tradition of going to pick out a few outfits. A boy. A boy. A boy. I hadn't allowed myself to even glance at the blue section of baby sections in years. 3 years to be exact. I had learned to avoid and head straight for the pink.

We told our families that night. They were very excited for us, my mom cried, my father in law jumped up and commented it was time we had a boy with the girl boom recently (Claudia and my niece who is 10 months) which led me to have mixed emotions. How would everyone had reacted if it was "another" girl? Would they have been AS excited?

I know I would have.

And then as we have told other people the last few weeks, I knew it would happen. The comments we would get.


"Now you have a girl AND a boy." Well, no. We have 2 boys and a girl.

"You are so lucky to get one of each!" Well, no. We have 2 of one and one of another.

"You will have the perfect little family!" No, we won't. Perfection is having all your children on Earth.

"So excited about the birth of your first son!" No, he is the second! Trust me. I gave birth to Curtis. I was there. I remember.

"When number two comes..." No, actually. Number 3.

"So great Claudia will have a brother." Now, I know she doesn't have a brother in a traditional sense, but once again...factually it is not true.

Craig heard something about his 'first' son as well.

And on and on and on.

I knew those comments would come. I cannot let them go. I am kind about them, I do not get on my high horse. But I will say "Nope, number 3!" Or "Well, we have a little boy who died, so he will be our second son and we are very thrilled he looks healthy."

But those little comments really bother me. I think anyone, anywhere with kids get gender comments. My cousin has 4 girls and I am sure she is ready to strangle the next person who does the "Hohoho, just you wait until the teenage years!" comments. Or my friend who is pregnant after having 2 boys who hears "I bet you are hoping for a girl this time!" I bet she wants to scream....she tried for a baby. Not a gender. Like she is going to ask for the kid to be put back in if it is not the 'correct' gender?

It is an odd sense of emotions to be expecting a boy after losing a boy. Like I say, for me it was a win/win situation. I WANTED a girl, because I wanted Claudia to have a sister, I wanted to see two little girls grow up together. Share that bond. Plus, I love our girl's name we had picked out. I WANTED a boy, to experience dirt and firetrucks (yeah, totally gender stereotyping here.) and getting to experience a son on Earth.

How could I *not* win in a situation like this?

One day, in the future...as we are out as a family of 4 (please, please please...) some other people will see us and think "One girl, one boy...perfect little family" but we will always know that isn't true. Our family chain is forever broken. There is a link. A link between us and Claudia that is forever missing. I just hope and pray people realize that things aren't always what they seem.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Our Story, Part 26

Rest of Curtis' birthday/Heartbeat

(left off on Curtis' 1st birthday, 2006.)

The rest of the weekend away was exactly what we needed. We spent a lot of time swimming, talking, relaxing, and eating. We agreed that, as long as we could, we would go away for Curtis' birthday.

That first year, a lot of people remembered. We got flowers sent to us, we got stacks of cards, emails and phone calls. Everyone remembered and we loved it. Craig's side of the family went to the angel on his actual birthday, right at the time he was born (5:31pm) and took a picture and sent it to us.

As soon as we got home, I felt panic set in. I mean, it always had been there, but whoa. It was ramping up. I had made a typical 12 week appointment at my OB's office. The doctor who had delivered, and fumbled, Curtis' birth. the 12 week appointment was key to me. It was when I was going to get to hear the baby's heartbeat on the doppler. It was when we were going to have to make choices. Choices that could mean the difference, literally, between life and death.

I clearly remember the appointment was set for a Thursday. The date was my mom's birthday, June 7th. No one knew at this point I was pregnant, so I was a bit worried the date would forever become tainted for me.

I had nightmares about the doppler. I remember so clearly the doctor putting the doppler on my huge, swollen stomach and hearing....nothing. No placenta sounds, no blood flow sounds, no heart beat sounds. Nothing. Then, my heartbeat off in the distance and the doctor putting his fingers to my wrist to confirm it was MY heartbeat and not Curtis'. I remember him rushing off to get the ultrasound machine and Craig saying "Well, I heard the heartbeat." And me shaking my head, knowing he was gone, saying "no, that was mine."

We got to the doctor's office and I was shaking. Craig asked the doctor if we could skip the doppler and go directly to the ultrasound instead. He knew the doppler raised my anxiety. Dopplers mean searching over my (expansive!) stomach. Fumbling. Searching over and over. The doctor blew off his concerns and said "well, we can take a peek with the ultrasound after the doppler." and did his nervous laugh we had come to hate. Craig retried his approach. "It is just that the last time the doppler was used...."

Too late, he had the thing fired up and ready to go. I shook my head at Craig to let him know I was okay. He put the wand on my stomach and within seconds said "I hear it in the distance, I just need more gel." He applied for gel to the wand and there it was, loud as can be, sounds just like galloping horses.

Craig grinned. I breathed for the first time in weeks.

True to his word, the doctor wheeled in the ultrasound machine and we got a glimpse of our baby to be.

I asked to not have a pap smear, I was so afraid of disturbing anything. The doctor blew off my concern, again, and basically said no. I was pretty much on cloud 9, so I went with it. Looking back, it makes me mad. Just further proof this doctor was not who we needed.

He informed me that they would not be doing anything different in this pregnancy, that is was a fluke and they do not see this type of thing repeat. I could have a high risk ultrasound at 20 weeks, and be induced at 40 weeks.

I didn't bother to argue. I didn't bother to tell him I have read the research. I have MET the doctor doing the research. I have met women who have had multiple pregnancies with multiple losses and multiple cord issues. Because he would not believe me. He would not listen to me.

I needed, above anything, a doctor who would listen to me. A doctor who BELIEVED me.

Now that I had the heartbeat on the doppler, I had work to do. I had to rent a doppler so I could find the heartbeat when I needed an anxiety relief. I had to find this new doctor, and soon. I had a few ideas, a few people who had walked this walk before me that would help. I wasn't alone in this. But I needed to move, and quickly.

The doctor bid us goodbye and told us he would see us in 4 weeks. Not so much buddy.

With an ultrasound picture in hand, we gazed at our little bean in the parking lot. It felt good. There was a lot of stress and worry...but for a few minutes, just like the day I found out I was pregnant, I felt good.

Craig grinned at me. "So???" he said, practically bouncing. "When can we tell people? When can we tell my parents?"

Gulp. Tell people? As in let others know? Cause others to worry and stress and, on top of it, ask me a million questions?

I am not so sure about that.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I actually want to take today's post and comment on some things/answer some questions that have come from my comments and email. You know, "ask me" kind of things. Except I have about 15 readers so that isn't many!

1) It wasn't my intention to add some big "SURPRISE" to my post about Curtis' birthday...I actually just wanted to explain about the 4th flower on his bricks. I try really hard to make his birthday about him and feel bad it came across that way.

2) Someone asked me if I thought his birthday hit harder this year because I am pregnant again and because of the age Claudia is.... I honestly don't think so. I was pregnant on his 1st birthday and I swear his birthday was ten times worse this year. I just think it is one of those things. You never know WHY it is bad. My theory was it wasn't bad last year because I was so wrapped up in Claudia. That could be true. It may not be since we are still pretty wrapped up in her! It could just be like anything....we have no idea which day will be horrible and which day won't. The things we don't think will be hard, will. And the thing I think will be easy, aren't. That is grief for ya. A big cluster mess of nonsense. ;)

3) Writing about Claudia's pregnancy has been slow going. It is HARD. Because the pregnancy was so darn awful. It pains me because Curtis' pregnancy was so darn EASY. So, that is why those posts have been slow to come. I so badly want to skim over all the bad stuff and get to the "YAY, she is here" post. But I can't. Because that isn't a true reflection of pregnancy after loss. So, that is why I have been struggling to post anything. I look back to where I left off and know the worst is to come. And, with my current pregnancy I am reaching the same point where things went south in Claudia's pregnancy (20 weeks) and well, let's face it, I am worried about those repeat issues.

4) Someone asked me recently if I get mad when someone compares my stillbirth to their miscarriage. They were grieving their 42 week stillborn baby girl and their sister compared her loss to her 6 week miscarriage. Now, I have had both. A miscarriage and a stillbirth. Yes, I get mad when people compare. Because you can't compare the two. They are different things. Much different. And each person's loss is probably the worse thing they have had happen to them. For me, losing Curtis was the single worst thing that has ever happened in the history of my life. My miscarriage wasn't. So, it does upset me because I feel the losses are different and are not comparable. A dear, wonderful friend of mine was trying to relate to me after I lost Curtis. She compared her break up with significant other of 9 years to the death of Curtis. Her break up was the worst thing that had happened to her. But...but.... can you imagine how that made me feel? She broke up with a jerk of a guy who deserved to be kicked to the curb and my son died inside of me and I had to endure 9 months of pregnancy and 5 hours of labor only to spend 4 hours with him. She was trying to be kind, she was trying to relate. But our losses are our own. I try to remember that when someone compares. I really do. I may not say anything to them in that moment. But I will probably vent to Craig or blog about it. Not because my loss is 'superior' to theirs, but because my loss is MY LOSS. No one else will understand my loss like I do. I own it, it is mine. I also try not to compare my loss to others...but sometimes I do. I try to make sure I keep my mouth shut. Because I know how much it hurts when others compare out loud!

5) ...and I have to end here for the night. I have a few more things I want to address, but some sleep is much needed. If anyone has any questions or whatever, please feel free.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Curtis' birthday came and went fairly quietly. This was our 3rd year that we went up to northern MN to celebrate and remember our son.

This year, like I said before, has hit me especially hard. Taking the time away was exactly what we needed as a family. Our tradition is now going to build-a-bear and allowing Claudia to pick a bear to make. Well, in the future she can pick. Right now, we still have to pick for her. But she reached for two and we helped her narrow it down. She was _not_ happy when we took away the non filled bear away from her to get filled up. When we handed it back to her...she took off running with it, refusing to pose. I am pretty sure she was worried we were going to take it from her again:







After build-a-bear, we stopped at the Angel of Hope statue where Curtis has 3 paver bricks in his memory. Claudia was very over tired and not interested in posing:







We laid 4 flowers on Curtis' bricks. One from myself, one from Craig, one from Claudia, and one from a future sibling of Curtis' who will hopefully be born screaming in October of this year.

I also brought 4 flowers to lay in the angel's hands. One for Curtis, one for Aaron, one for Ethan, and one for Abbey (the red one! She is a girl, after all. The boys got blue!) I met their moms through our mutual losses. Aaron was born premature and lived 33 days before passing away the same day Curtis did, May 31st 2006. His mom, Nikki, and I knew each other online while we were both pregnant with our boys. We share this sad date, but have a great bond. I met Ethan's mom online. Ethan lived for 12 days from June 2nd to June 14th, 2005. He was born full term but inexplicably stopped breathing his first day on Earth. His mom is an amazing woman. Abbey is someone I have recently become acquainted with through her mom's blog. She and Curtis were due around the same time. She was born still 6 days after her due date, June 4th, 2006.



We tried to take a picture of the 3 of us, Claudia was not interested:



We drove to our condo later that day, and luckily Claudia did well the entire trip. Sadly, the weather was miserable (back home it was warm and sunny!) It was very windy and cold. On Curtis' actual birthday there was freezing rain! Okay, Minnesota is cold, but geesh!

Sunset from our condo our first night:


We spent the days together, as a family, lounging, swimming, and taking in the local restaurants. We talked about Curtis and the should have beens and what would it be likes. We talked little about the day we lost him but more about him in general, if that makes sense. We took a gondola ride up a mountain and sat on the shores of Lake Superior and were just a family....

We decided Curtis would insist on an ice cream cake. I mean, it is his mom and dad's favorite. Surely it would be his too. We hit the local DQ and found the perfect cake. We ate plenty, enough for us and him.


(Claudia has to wear the eye patch for opthamology issues. Don't worry!)





We came home on Monday. I was lucky to receive about 4 or 5 cards in the mail from various friends and that softened the 'blow' of returning to the real world. Knowing people back home were remembering Curtis meant the world.

It was a good weekend.

Monday, May 25, 2009

I am finding it hard to believe it is May. I am finding it hard to believe it is almost the end of May and this weekend Craig, Claudia, and myself will go away for the weekend again to remember our baby boy and spend time as a family.

I have to admit, this month has rocked me to the core. And it took me by surprise. Mother's Day, which I thought wouldn't be that bad, was. I am constantly crying on my way home from work, before I pick up Claudia. I am having restless dreams and often wake at night.

Why? WHY this year? A friend once told me the 3s were hard.... 3rd week, 3rd month, 3rd year... maybe that was it?

Honestly, last year wasn't that hard. Because of her. Last year, Claudia was just over 6 months old on Curtis' 2nd birthday. We were very much in the 'every day we have you is a day we didn't have you last year' kind of world. There wasn't much time for grief. We were still in a lot of euphoria. That doesn't mean we didn't cry and talked about him: we did. We pulled out pictures and the DVD of pictures we made. We took Claudia to Build A Bear and made her a "Curtis Bear". (A tradition we plan to do every year for his birthday with her and any other child who decides to join our family...). We went to the Angel of Hope statue and visited his bricks. We did grieve...but I didn't spend the weeks and days leading up to his birthday in this...overwhelming sadness.

People hear we lost a son 3 years ago and they think "oh, that's too bad..." but they don't see what I see. I see a 3 year old, blond hair boy, with a bad hair colic and a dimple. Traits of his father. I see a kid asserting his independence, a kid I am trying to get to clean up his toys. A kid who would maybe want a Superman theme birthday or Wall E or whatever the hot thing is for three year old boys....but I am not sure what that is because I don't have a three year old. We would be debating if he should go to preschool in the fall or if he wasn't ready. We would be working on potty training, maybe his grandpa would take him to a ballgame, just the two of them.

Most people just see that little baby. Most of the time, I do too. But I know. I know he should be 3.

So, this year is hard. I have more time to think this year, more time to grieve. More time to wonder all the should haves and could have beens...the things people tell you not to linger on , but us loss parents. We do. We linger.

Because, lingering is a way of remembering. I remember. I grieve. This month is hard, these weeks and days have been overwhelming. Because I miss the baby boy I carried for 9 months and only got to hold for 4 hours. I miss the baby boy, but I miss the three year old I never met. The three year old he never had a chance to grow into.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Our Story, Part 25

Curtis' Birthday

(left off just having a 6w6d u/s with our 2nd pregnancy after losing Curtis).

The discussion on "what to do" was rampant in our house. We knew we were DONE with the doctor who delivered Curtis. We knew we needed to find a new doctor. Part of me did not want to jump through hoops until I was in the 2nd trimester (14 weeks). I had a doctor's appointment set up with my current OB for 12 weeks. That was 5 weeks away. We decided we would make decisions at the time we could hear the heartbeat on the doppler. Then we would make the decisions that could get a child, a living child, in our arms.

So, we waited.

And told no one I was pregnant.

Each day was _hard_. I had no way of knowing if things were progressing. I had no way of knowing if that little heart was still thumping away. I knew women, I know women, who have lost babies at every single stage of pregnancy. There was no 'magic' time for me to get through, except birth.

On top of it all? We were rapidly approaching Curtis' first birthday. We didn't want to tell anyone until May had passed. We wanted, and needed, to make May about Curtis.

So, while Curtis' soon-to-be sibling grew inside of me, we prepared to celebrate the end of our first year without him. I don't mean celebrate in a bad way, but we had made it. We had made it a full year. We got through each holiday, each moment together. We grieved Curtis, we loved Curtis and we prepared for the inevitable host of emotions that would come with his birthday.

Craig put together a slide show of two of my favorite songs remembering Curtis. It showed me pregnant at 35 weeks, showed his room I had taken pictures of after we had put the finishing touches on it. It showed his shower cake. (Ironically saying "I'm On My Way")..it showed us with tear stained faces holding his little body. It showed him cuddled with his teddy bear. It showed his feet, being held by our nurse Kim. It showed his funeral. It showed his urn and us at the lake the day we spread his ashes. It showed the first memorial walk we attended with our "Team Curtis" tshirts. And on and on and on....

We packed a lot of celebrating, and grieving, into that year.


Our support group held a little birthday party for Curtis. We did a balloon release, we brought treats, we showed our video. It was a beautiful thing.

Craig and I decided we needed to get away for his birthday. His birthday landed on a Thursday so we took that day and the following Friday off. I researched various resorts and hotels in areas of Minnesota and surrounding states. We settled on the ski area of Lutsen, MN. It wasn't ski season so the prices for condos was cheap. We could get a one bedroom with a jacuzzi, something we could never afford normally.

The days leading up to Curtis' birthday were hard. Being pregnant was taking it's toll enough, dealing with his birthday about sent me over the edge.

Cards started to pour in, a lot of my friends from online communities remembered my little boy and sent us something. A wonderful woman sent us 2 plaques remembering Curtis.

We drove up to Lutsen on Curtis' actual birthday. I was up early, sitting on the couch when Craig woke up. He walked over and the first thing he said? 'Happy Birthday, Curtis."

It was the only time I cried all day.

We stopped at my parent's to drop off the dog, made idle conversation about nothing, and they handed us a card. We stopped at Craig's parents briefly for some reason. They, too, handed us a few cards. We were making polite chit chat and I found myself anxious. I wanted to be alone with Craig. I wanted out of the confines of having to make chit chat with people while my heart felt like it was going to burst.

We then drove to the Angel of Hope statue where Curtis has 3 bricks remembering him. We laid a white flower on his bricks and 2 flowers for friends of mine who had lost their children around the time we lost Curtis.

Then, we made our way to the lake. It wasn't on the direct path to our resort, but we wanted to go to where we spread Curtis' ashes the past summer. It was another beautiful day. We sat on the dock and talked about our little boy, talked about the day we spread his ashes. We took pictures of ourselves in the spot where his ashes had been spread. We set the self timer and took a silly picture of us laying on the dock together.

We were only there for about 30 minutes, but it was enough. We got in the car and started driving to our final destination.

We were actually in the car at 5:31pm, the time Curtis was born. I took a picture of the clock.

We arrived at our resort early in the evening. We were thrilled with what we found. A beautiful view of the mountain area, a private deck, and comfortable amenities. We sat on the couch together and opened the cards people had given us. Craig had written me a card with the sweetest, most heartfelt words. He spoke about how he knew how hard it had been on me, I had carried Curtis and given birth to him...he spoke of how proud he was of our boy and what he may be doing now if he had been born alive. I still read the card on a regular basis.

We spent the first evening enjoying our surroundings. Heading into town to buy a frozen pizza... swimming in the outdoor/indoor pool, watching the TV. Later in the evening, as we decided to start a fire in our fire place, I noticed the mantle above the fireplace had an inscription carved into the wood.

It said 'Rekindle Your Heart".

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mother's Day Part II.

I am feeling less bitter today about it. We will see what happens on Sunday, but today I was at work and something happened.

I work with children with autism. I have for 10 years and I love the field. I love the kids. Many of the kids I work with don't respond well to their parents or families. They give little in the way of 'love' to mom and dad. They are attached to mom and dad, yes, but with their needs the parents often don't get some connection parents of typical children get.

We do a highly individualized therapy and it allows for little time to make flower pots or hand molds. A lot of our kids are older and have our services as opposed to school. A lot of our kids maybe have parents who have been laid off or dads who are not involved or other family situations where mom would possibly be ignored on Sunday. I had completely forgot about Mother's Day until about 3:45, 15 minutes before I was to leave. I wanted to 'give' these moms something from their kids. I instructed all the staff working to hurry up and have each of the kids make the moms a card. A lot of our kids cannot draw or hate to do so, so we helped them out.

I can relate, in a way, to some of these parents. They are grieving, hard core, for the way they thought their life was going to be. They gave birth to this perfect baby....and somehow their life turned into something they weren't expecting. They grieve for the dreams they had for their child, and they grieve for the way they thought their life was going to be.

So, I hope they take a look at those little cards we rushed together, and smile. Knowing that we know how much they love their children and that we are thinking about them.

I guess because I don't enjoy Mother's Day doesn't mean I don't want others to not enjoy it. That probably is 3 years (almost...) of perspective talking.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

So, I feel like I should blog about Mother's Day.

It is this weekend...and, I realllly couldn't care less about the holiday.

In 2006, I wasn't feeling well. I was close to 38 weeks pregnant and chose to stay home while Craig went to his parents for the day. No one, except my dad, acknowledged me, as a mom to be.

The following year, I was barely pregnant with Claudia. Weird. Pregnant over both holidays, with no baby in my arms. My husband gave me a 'I Love My Son' charm and that was so touching. We were not invited to a family gathering on my side (I stumbled on it when I went to drop a present for my mom. No one would even look at me. Yeah, it hurt. Whatever the 'reasons' for it. It hurt.)

Now, Mother's Day makes me feel _blah_. That is the best way I can describe it. _Blah_. Just... empty.

Last year, I had one request for Craig. I wanted a card, from Claudia, that said "To Mommy." That was it. I didn't want a bunch of other cards about what a good mom I was and all that jazz.

It is hard to want to celebrate a day when one of your children isn't here to celebrate it with. Plain and simple.

Well, last year, I was invited to Mother's Day gatherings! I got a bunch of cards from people. What did they say? "Happy FIRST Mother's Day."

Like hell it was! Those card infuriated me to no end. This was my second Mother's Day.

Those cards were just a reminder that people don't get it. Don't get that I was pregnant for 9 months, gave birth, held my son, and then held a funeral. Because he wasn't running around, I apparently wasn't granted the title of a 'mother' until I had a child who screamed at birth.

That is why I don't like Mother's Day. It is just another reminder one of my children is dead and the world forgets how a day, like Mother's Day, is extremely painful.

Now, as our daughter gets older...and makes me handmade cards or a flower pot in preschool, that will be all I want. I don't want anyone who is not my child decreeing my status as a mother.

But, for the most part, I just want to ignore the day. Yeah, lots of negativity.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Last Sunday, Craig and I volunteered at the infant loss conference held by our local organization. Honestly, it is probably one of the only conferences out there like it. There were people who had flown in from Scotland to attend. So yeah, a big deal.

I blogged about attending the conference two years ago. It was on the cusp of Curtis' 1st birthday and we were just weeks from finding out I was pregnant with Claudia.

This year, we decided to volunteer. I guess I felt like I had learned everything at the previous conference and wanted to help out. Craig was assigned various tasks around the conference and I was assigned to be a room monitor while speakers were giving their presentation.

The first session I was monitoring was the one the founder was giving. It was to medical caregivers on how to give the best practice in the time of a loss. What is funny is my nurse who delivered Curtis was attending and was in the room. A couple of times I wanted to shout out "yeah! My nurses did that!" in agreement with the speaker. I decided that would be rude, but I did nod along with so many of the things they spoke about doing for patients in the time of loss. Like a card for the first birthday. Lock of the hair. Pictures. Holding the patients hand and explaining what exactly the baby may or may not look like to prepare the patient.

During the speech, the presenter showed a video she puts together when she attends a stillbirth. It is an amazing compilation of pictures and video shots, set to music. Everyone in the room cried and cried while watching it. It is something like that where I kick myself. See, we had a video camera with us that day. When we attended my 40 week appointment, I had my bags packed. Camera, video camera, pacifiers, diapers... I knew I wanted pictures, but remember thinking I didn't want video. Now, now I regret that. I would love to have video of me holding him... to see it 'live' like that. Sure, I have pictures, but I want to see me looking at my son, I want video shots of that moment.

Then, during the speech, I found out that in the state of Minnesota is it COMPLETELY LEGAL that a family takes their baby home. there are some hoops and paperwork you fill out, there is something that you contact the funeral home before leaving with the baby and they are aware of coming to pick up that baby. But you can. You can drive your baby home. You can bring your baby to the room you prepared for them. You can lay him in his crib and take pictures of him laying in the bedding you picked out for him. You can rock him in the rocking chair. You CAN TAKE HIM HOME.

I sobbed. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed.

After watching the movie Losing Layla and watching that family bring their daughter home and bathe her and hold her in her room ...all I have longed for was a moment like that. How jealous I was! Now, to find out that was an option? Just about did me in. I would have done that! I would have brought him home if I had known.

A few hours later, I realized I probably wouldn't have. I was so scared. I never even unwrapped him. I couldn't muster up the courage to ask a nurse to wrap him in a different blanket. The minute his little body started to change (about 4 hours after I had him) we had the nurse take him away. But then the next morning, I was heartbroken to find out he had been in the morgue all night when I thought he was already at the funeral home.

Would I have honestly brought him home? I don't know. I don't think so. But I like to think had I known then, what I know now...I would have. I would have wrapped him in the fuzzy blue blanket with basketballs and baseballs, put him in his car seat and brought him home.

Even if only for 10 minutes.

Because all I ever wanted was to bring him home with us.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I am here.

I seem to posting more "I am here" posts and "I will catch up soon" posts than actual posts lately.

Sorry.

There are a few reasons for that. We have been sick AGAIN. My husband has been working like crazy and I am getting little time to sit and have free time where I can drum up all of the emotions it take to post 'our story' posts. And really, any of my posts. I was out of town for awhile for a friend's wedding. I participated in our infant loss conference this weekend and those emotions are swimming all over right now. (Another post for another time. It is a good one ;) )

Finally, in a month we will be celebrating our baby boy's 3rd birthday. Three. Frickin'. Years.

I know I have said this before, but I used to beg time to speed up, I knew it would be better 'in the future'. And it is. And it isn't. I am just more used to it now, which isn't a bad thing and does help. Claudia's pregnancy was probably the longest stretch of time in my life. I used to bed time to speed up then and here she is....17 months....and I am sitting here wondering what has happened to time?

I wish I was a blogger who posted every day like many of my favorite bloggers do. But, with the nature of this blog, I don't always have the emotions to post like I would need to be a daily blogger. this blog is truly about stillbirth and pregnancy after stillbirth and sometimes my day to day mundane life (that I love) hasn't much to do with it. I hope my few readers continue to read, despite my sporadic posts. But I understand those of you who have lost interest.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Well, something happened this weekend and I don't know what to make of it.

I am one of those parents that do all the Easter Bunny and Santa kind of things. I love it. This weekend, we wanted to take Claudia to the Easter Bunny and get a picture taken. I was _fully_ prepared for her to scream bloody murder. She is 16 months old. Face it, it is a giant rabbit with bow tie. That can be kind of freaky to kids! But, I am also the type of mom who would think a crying picture of her with a giant rabbit would be kind of funny too. To keep, to look back on one day and laugh. (No, I don't want to make her miserable or anything.)

So, off we went. We got her picture taken. She did great, by the way. LOVED the bunny. Smiled at him, patted at him, willingly sat in his lap and we got some cute pictures of her smiling.

I was pretty thrilled. We got a cute picture of her with Santa this past Christmas and now a cute picture of her with the bunny. Fun!

Later that night, it hit me.

2 years ago, it was the 1st Easter since we lost Curtis. It was right before I found out I was pregnant with Claudia. I was walking in the mall and caught sight of that stupid rabbit. It hit me like a ton of bricks I didn't have my 10 month old with me to get those silly pictures. I never would have him with me. I broke down and we had to leave the mall right away. I had successfully avoided the mall at Christmas time to avoid seeing the Santa and Christmas stuff. But holidays kept coming, and Easter was another rude awakening.

Then, at the end of 2007 and all of 2008, whenever we would do a "first" with Claudia, I thought about Curtis. How we never got to do that event with him. We never got to take him to see the bunny. Never got to go to the zoo. Never got a Halloween costume for him. No baptism. No July 4th picnic. No swimming. On and on...whatever her first, it would remind me he never had one.

So, this year when we took her to the bunny. The fact that Curtis should be there never even crossed my mind. I was excited to take her to see the bunny, then she did so well, so I emailed that picture out so quick and uploaded it to facebook to show the world.

Later, over dinner with Craig, tears filled my eyes. He asked what was wrong.

"I think this is the first event I have taken her too where I didn't immediately think 'Curtis should have gotten to do this'. That fact never even crossed my mind until now. "

Is this how it is going to be now? That I will find the ultimate happiness in that exact moment and remember later? Is that good? Because it doesn't feel good.

I gotta tell you, the guilt I felt all night last night was not easy to stomach. I should have an almost 3 year old go running and screaming from that giant rabbit. And it didn't even hit me until later.

I don't even know how to process it.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Our Story: The first u/s of her

Part 24?? (I need to check!)

After the conference was over, I started to panic.

Well, that is an understatement.

Every moment of my waking hours (and some sleeping) I was obsessed. Was everything okay? What if I miscarried, again? Could I last another 7 days until my ultrasound?

I took pregnancy tests every single day.

Yes, it was expensive. But I needed SOMETHING.

I don't get morning sickness. I don't. I didn't with Curtis and I didn't with this pregnancy. I prayed for morning sickness. I know people want to throw things at me now that I admitted this, and with Curtis I was pretty damn pleased I felt so good. But with this pregnancy I wanted SOMETHING to tell me I was pregnant. I wanted a sore chest. I wanted mood swings. I wanted to puke.

I had an appointment set up with my doctor, the one I had when I lost Curtis, set up for close to 8 weeks. I would have an ultrasound to make sure things were growing okay. Implanted okay.

One day, at work, I took another pregnancy test. It was a daily habit. I knew I needed to stop. but...I needed SOMETHING.

The test line was light.

I had been testing for 3 weeks now. The lines had always been dark.

I start to shake. I had been having some cramps...nothing BAD...but...

Deep breaths. I get through the next few hours and make it to my next client's house. As I pulled in, I realized I couldn't wait. I couldn't do it anymore.

I mulled it over in my head. "Do I call? Do I try to get in earlier?"

I called. My doctor was out, do I want to talk to the other doctors?

Yes.

I lied. I told them I was having severe cramping and spotting.

Yes, I lied. I didn't care. I told them I lost a baby at 40 weeks, I lost one to miscarriage. I needed help. Even if there was nothing they could do, I needed to know. I cried.

So, yeah, I lied. I don't care and I would do it all over again if I had to.

They got me an appointment at 3:30.

I made an excuse to my client's and shook the entire 45 minute drive to the clinic.

I didn't call Craig. I didn't want to worry him. I didn't want him to panic. Plus, I had lied. Now, he isn't the truth police or anything, but I just didn't want to tell him I basically made it all up because of a pregnancy test. My 50th or so this pregnancy.

They got me in quickly. While taking my vitals and getting the ultrasound machine ready the doctor and the nurse were having this conversation.

"Did you hear about the woman who got punched into the stomach and went into labor?"

"Yeah, my wife was the nurse on that case. It is just unreal."

"Yeah, I don't know if she was abused. I don't think the baby is okay"

At this point I piped up (it was a popular news story in our area) "No, it was a set up. Her boyfriend paid the guy to punch her. I think she lost the baby. You guys do know I lost a baby at 40 weeks and a conversation like this really bothers me?"

I had to lay back on the table. I felt so exposed. I was so early they had to go a vaginal ultrasound. I was trying to keep my legs from shaking.

I refused to look at the screen. The last ultrasounds I had were Curtis and his still body. My miscarriage and not a baby in sight.

"There we are. Everything is fine. Measuring 6 weeks, 6 days. Just one! Tiny heart beat. Look!"

I was stunned. I really was.

"Your bleeding and severe cramping are probably just the baby settling in. No biggie. "

Or, it could be the gigantic lie I told.

The doctor was all smiles. I said how happy I was. I said it is hard, I lost a baby at 40 weeks, I know how wrong it can all go. But for now, I am happy.

He said yes, and since it is so rare, no research is being done. I tell him that isn't true. It isn't rare. One of of 100 isn't rare. There is research. There are studies. I can get him the research from the organization I have worked with. He ignores this and repeats there is no research and it won't happen twice. I say I know people it has happened to twice.

What does he say?

"Well, you know, it can always be worse. At least it wasn't SIDS as an infant, or a drowning as a toddler or a car accident as a teenager. Just remind yourself of that. There is always something worse out there."

I think my mouth hung open.

He hands me my little ultrasound picture and walked out the door.

To this day, I hate the man. He is ranked one of the top doctors for women in our area. I fantasize about writing a letter. Even years later, I can clearly hear his words.

Yes, of course SIDS and drowning and car accidents are horrid. But that is not what I know. What I know is being pregnant 40 damn weeks. What I know is coming home to a house filled to the brim with baby boy clothes and strollers and swings. I know going through labor, the blood, the stitches to only hold my son for 4 hours.

I do not know SIDS or car accidents.

I know this. This is my "worst" this is the worst thing that has ever happened to me. I cannot compare. They are apples to ....cars! You cannot compare them. Each are separate things. I cannot shrug my shoulders and skip out the door singing "it can always be worse!"

It really ruined a nice moment. It robbed me of seeing my daughter (unknown to me) the first time. I remember little of seeing that tiny bean on the screen and remember more the conversation about the woman getting punched and the "hey, it could be worse!" slap in the face. I remember more about him brushing off the research I knew was happening. I remember more how horrified I was that an OB doctor didn't know how to deal with a grieving, so deeply grieving, pregnant woman.

I got in the car and called Craig. I needed to tell him. I needed to tell him our baby had a heartbeat and in this moment, despite that jackass of a doctor, things were okay.

He was on the golf course.

"So, babe, yeah...I was panicking and ended up in the doctor's office."

"You okay???"

"Yeah, there is a heartbeat. Things are good."

"You don't sound okay. "

"I am okay. It is just... well, I will tell you later. But the baby is okay. In this moment, we are okay."

And we were.

But now that I was 0 for 2 in doctors, how was I going to find a good one?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I have been MIA again.

Round two of the stomach flu hit us. I guess I got kind of cocky. We had it once, back in January. Both Claudia and myself. So I thought we were in the clear. Everyone and their dog has been getting it recently, but we already had it. So when Claudia woke with a fever, I didn't think much of it. Just teeth or another cold, I thought.

She started puking the next day and didn't stop for another week. I got hit with a mild round too.

It was lots of fun, let me tell you.

I do not handle her being sick well. Sure, I can care for her just fine, but it causes me to break down. Every single time. There is the guilt for working part time and sending her to daycare. She wasn't sick a single day of her life until she went to daycare. In the past 7 months she has been in daycare, she has been sick practically every other week. I am so tired of hearing how it will "build up her immunity" too. Everyone says this. My parents, my grandparents, friends, relatives, strangers... it actually sounds like a bunch of crap to me. Everytime I say with a sigh 'She is sick, again." someone spouts this off. All I care about is how sick my baby is all the time. Not what may or may not happen in the future.

I don't know why I can't handle her illness better. This is what I signed up for. This is what I missed with Curtis. Surely he would have gotten sick. There is just this element that you cannot protect them from and illness is one of them.

It is just hard to see your baby in misery. (Over and over).

I will be back soon with another our story post :) I just wanted to check in now that we are all slightly on the mend.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Extreme Home Makeover this past week spotlighted a neat woman who takes pictures of premature infants at her local hospital. In many cases, it is the only pictures the family ends up with as many of their babies do not make it. They didn't mention if she does bereavement photography, if there was a stillbirth that had taken place or the premature infant had died before she got there. I hope she does.

When we found out Curtis was gone but before I delivered him, I knew I wanted pictures. I had spent some time on baby message boards and knew of a few woman who had stillbirths and had gotten pictures of their babies. They were not friends then, I just had followed their stories. (However, they are friends now.)

I remember sitting in my hospital room chanting to myself "We will get to hold him. We will get to take pictures." I later said it out loud to Craig who said "Really? Oh. Okay." He didn't know. But I did.

Reading their stories.... Knowing something about stillbirth and what takes place after the baby is born at least prepared me a bit. Craig wasn't prepared at all. I think knowing I would get to see him and hold him helped me in those first hours after I found out he was gone but before he was born.

I am forever grateful to the women who went before me on this path. For paving the way to understand. It wasn't that long ago that they whisked the baby away and the mother wasn't allowed to see or hold her baby. I cannot imagine the ache those mothers must feel to this day. They felt that baby move for months inside of her, but then she wasn't even allowed to look at the baby. She was told to forget that baby. That she could have another. Like her cookie fell on the floor. "Well, just get another!"

Some of those women have changed minds....funerals are now held. Pictures are taken. The baby is introduced to family. The baby is named and, in some states we are allowed to get a Birth Certificate Resulting in Stillbirth.

I am grateful, to this day, for the women who fought so hard. Because of them I was able to hold my son, get as many picture of him as I wanted, have a blessing with a minister, and for the most part no one has told me to forget my son. I had a wonderful nurse who sat with me through the whole experience and made sure I had as many memories of my son as possible.

When a woman like the one who was spotlighted on Extreme Home Makeover, or a group like Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep or Candy from MissingGRACE takes the time to help grieving families in their darkest house it makes me hopeful. It sounds odd, but it is easy to get bogged down in a world that is so unfair and filled with negativity. But there are people out there trying to better it, so we do not have to walk alone in our grief. Maybe those women had to be alone in their grief and they saw a need. Maybe it is part of their coping, part of their healing. For them, I am grateful.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Our Story: Part 23: The conference

The first few weeks of my pregnancy with my daughter are a blur of pregnancy tests and thoughts racing.

"My side hurts, I think it is an ectopic."

"This test, the line isn't as dark as the test 2 days ago."

"How in the world am I going to ever find a doctor who I trust?"

But, rapidly approaching was the first infant loss conference we were going to attend. This was going to be a big deal because there was a fundraising banquet one night where we had purchased a table in memory of Curtis. The research doctor was going to be there. We would be able to meet him, talk with him, and figure out a plan of attack.

Now, all of this was planned before we found out I was pregnant, but being pregnant at the same time made the event even more of an emotional roller coaster.

We had chosen not to tell our families I was pregnant. It was early, so early, and the pressure of everyone knowing? I just couldn't handle it. A few friends knew, because I needed someone to email with, but that was it.

The conference was amazing. We volunteered to help out the night before so Craig and I took on various tasks of getting the conference together. The next morning, we made our way downstairs to attend our first session. Some of the first people I see are Kim and Mary Beth. Kim, being our nurse who delivered Curtis. It was wonderful to see them, but threw me off my focus a bit. I was so much thinking about the research doctor and this pregnancy, seeing the person who was the first to hold Curtis shook me a bit.

We attended a few sessions that day. One was dealing with grief as a couple. One was a panel talking about the research the doctor had done with them and how their living children were born. (Each couple had dealt with a stillbirth or cord related death). It was there I met with my friend who ran this even and told her I was pregnant and so scared. She placed her hand on my stomach. Which doctor should I see? Where should I go? She strongly suggested a doctor that was 90 miles away. She is amazing. She has dealt with our pregnant women after a stillbirth.

The next session we went this this _amazing_ woman who had never spoke about her losses before. She has had 5. Stillbirth at 22 weeks, m/c at 16 weeks, m/c 13 weeks, m/c 17 weeks, and stillbirth 20 weeks. They don't know why she keeps having them. She is a pastor and talked about all of the doubts, anger, hatred she has had towards God. It was so awesome. That sounded funny... I mean it was awesome to hear a pastor be angry at God and doubt her faith. Her speech was so moving and so painful, I cried through the whole thing. I know she was on the fence about speaking about it all publicly but did amazing. We also attended one given by the research doctor and it answered a lot of questions we had about what steps we would take in our next pregnancy.

Our friends and family arrived later that night and joined us at the banquet. It was an emotional time. Our table set up for Curtis was beautiful. We had a lovely centerpiece with a candle, etched into it was his name. It still sits on our dining room table. A local, popular, weatherman was the MC for the event and told his story. He lost his son 5 days after birth. Being an identical twin, he talked about his living son and watching him grow up without his brother. Our US Senator got up and spoke about his two infant losses and the need for support like our organization. Some others got up and told their stories, there were a lot of tears.

The next day at the conference, Craig and I watched the movie Losing Layla. It was one of the hardest things I have ever watched. A journalist had documented her pregnancy step by step hoping to make a documentary about what having a baby does to a couple. During delivery, the baby ended up in distress, and inhaling merconium. She ended up dying hours after she was born. The journalist continued to document their grief process. It was like watching my life played out in the screen. I sobbed and sobbed through it. Later, at the closing ceremonies there was a beautiful balloon release. I leaned into Craig's shoulder and he just held me.

I remember the long drive home that day. For whatever reason, Craig and I had two cars so we drove separate. I had stopped to pick up the dog. I came in the house emotionally spent. It was so much to process and so much to think about. Craig was sitting on the couch, in the dark living room. "It feels like May 31st, all over again. Feels like we just walked in without him again."

That was what the conference had done, brought everything back to the surface for the both of us.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I really haven't had much of an issue with pregnant woman. Even right after I lost Curtis. Sure, there were some incidents where I was bothered. Usually more when I happened to overhear some type of conversations. But, for the most part, I was okay with seeing someone pregnant. I guess I should explain that as long as they looked happy, of age, not screaming at 10 other kids... I was okay with it.

But more often than not, I felt sorry for them. I would shake my head and think "you have NO idea how wrong it could all go."

As time moved on, I still thought that but I started realizing maybe they *did* know how wrong it could all go. Maybe they had multiple miscarriages. Maybe they had struggled with infertility. Maybe they had a stillbirth. Maybe their friend had one. That made me feel a little less sorry for them and helped me cope.

Yesterday afternoon, I was in Target with Craig and Claudia. I happened to wander away and was in the book/video area. There was a pregnant woman with her husband looking at the baby books and they were obviously registering for baby supplies.

My first thought?

"I should tell them to register for Baby Einstein videos!"

Not feeling sorry for them. Not having to go through possible horrible scenarios they have faced. That they should register for Baby Einstein.

It was nice. It is progress. I know it has to do with Claudia. I know it has to go with the fact we have our living child here. I know had we not had Claudia I still would have felt sad for them. But I am glad I didn't have to.

Later, in the toy area a woman and her husband were playing with some toys. The woman was having a blast goofing around, her baby in the stroller. The husband looked a tad annoyed and she was enjoying annoying him. I started talking to her about the toy she was playing with and we struck up a conversation. She turned the stroller around and her daughter was the same age as Claudia.

"Isn't being a parent just the coolest thing ever??"

"It is," I replied. "We are having an absolute blast."

She beamed a huge smile. We said our goodbyes and tried to get our daughters to wave.

I walked away, smiling. So often I see parents exhausted or upset with their kids. We all have those moments. But it was nice to see a family, enjoying their kid, and having fun. It was nice for my first thought not to be sad for a pregnant person.

We are pushing 3 years since losing Curtis. I just...I just can't wrap my head around it still. That I should have an almost 3 year old. I have really hard days, and weeks still. All the time. But those moments, those moments like yesterday, I felt good. I felt whole. I felt like someone I could be proud of again. Someone who is taking this grief and finding joy.

I must remember this when the grief hits again and becomes overwhelming.

I think I am the point now where I cherish the good days so much. I used to dread them. Because good days just made the bad ones feel so much worse. Like I had that much farther to fall. Now, the good days feel good. And the bad ones feel bad and they aren't so tired together anymore.

For THAT I am grateful.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

So, I was driving home on my way from work today and on the radio, the hosts were interviewing a hockey player.

His name is Curtis.

I sat (well drove) and listened to the interview. He was bantering back and forth with the hosts of the radio show, his wife a few times popped in a comment in the back ground.

It is interesting. His name always catches me attention. I hear it often, as a first name. As a last name. It always makes me smile a bit. Curtis was the name I came up with. Craig wasn't really keen on it at first, he had a guy at work with a similar name and he wasn't a real big fan of him.

We actually had a big fight about it. I mean, as much we fight. It is more me getting sooo upset and him sitting there going "what just happened here?"

I thought it was the perfect name. It didn't rhyme/sound sing songy with our last name (which ends in an "y" sound). I liked the nickname of "Curt". It was a C name. It wasn't super common, but not uncommon.

That day I was so upset Craig didn't love the name as much as I did. I loved it. A few hours later I got a text from Craig that said:

"I like Curtis now." Whether he just decided to give in because I was big, hormonal, and carrying his first child or he truly liked the name now, the world will never know. Because lord knows he will NOT say it was because I was big and hormonal!

I had that text message saved on my phone for 2 and a half years. I would make sure it never got deleted. I always had to save it every few weeks as other text messages rolled in. What is funny as I was writing this, I just realized that when I got my iPhone and changed providers in November, that message is now gone. Lost on an old phone.

Suddenly, I miss it.

I had saved other text messages from during his loss. I had a handful of them people had sent right after I had sent one saying he had been born, it was a cord accident, and that he had looked like Craig. I had saved a few from the weeks following Craig had sent me whenever we were apart. I had saved one from my first week back at work from Craig, checking in on me.

I miss those too.

For those years I had them saved, I would scroll through occasionally just taking myself back to those moments. The big fight over the name. The hours after his loss. The first time we were apart after losing him.

So funny how I had forgotten about those text messages once they weren't saved on my phone anymore and when I started this blog post my memory was suddenly triggered. Not the direction I expected this post to take, but I don't mind.

I like his name, I like hearing his name. It doesn't pain me, it makes me feel good about the choice we made for him. It was one of the few things that we were able to do that normal parents get to do. Name their new baby.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

One fear that I am sure most loss parents worry about is people forgetting or overlooking our children.

I had an incident a few months ago where my grandma was talking about all the children on my husband's side of the family. My husband is one of 4 boys. These 4 boys have produced 4 girls and, in total with Curtis, 2 boys.

So, my grandma was saying to me "How funny that his parents had 4 boys, but almost all girl grandchildren. Only one boy."

I knew she meant the living boy. My nephew.

Not angrily, not upset I said "Well, there is another boy."

"Oh, who?" I could see her calculate his nieces and nephews in her head.

"Curtis."

She became visibly flustered and said "Well, oh, well..."

I let her off the hook and changed the subject.

Later, she mentioned the conversation to my mom. (As I had.) She was defending what she said, saying she was just trying to say how funny it was they had a bunch of boys and ended up with only one grandson.

Huh?

Really, if we look at the conversation it was about what gender the family produces the most of. His parents produced boys. Those boys produced 4 girls and 2 boys. Plain and simple. If we are talking gender, that is what it is.

My mom tried to tell her that she needed to understand that Curtis was always present in our lives and he would always be mentioned.

Even that was off the mark. Yes, what she said in general is true, but at the nuts and bolts of the conversation was how many of each gender Craig and his brothers have had. 4 girls and 2 boys.

Things like this....they don't make me angry. Honestly. At this point, I just more shake my head and as nicely as I can point out what I see to be the truth.

When I don't have to do this? When it is done for me?

Amazing.

Craig's Gram passed away last week after a short illness. She was a neat lady. She had a long, active, fun life. She never was one to dwell on the past, so quite frankly, we don't know much about that life. She was very much in the present. She wanted to talk about the now and the future. She would be asked about the past, the life she had lead in her younger days, and honestly, she didn't mention much about it. She loved her sonbs, grandsons and her 14 great grandchildren. Coming from the background she did, death didn't seem to effect her much. People died, she moved on. Including 2 husbands and countless friends and family. When we lost Curtis, it was the one time people in the family mentioned that she was visibly upset.

Craig's Gram was the only grandparent he got to know. She had been a constant in his life and he was with her many times over her final days. She passed away peacefully after 92 years on this Earth.

There is some amount of perspective when someone 92 dies. Someone who said in her final days that she was okay with dying. She had a good life. She was ready for whatever faced her next. So, we said goodbye. While we are sad she is gone, sad for the neat lady who has left us, we understand people don't live forever. When someone dies at 92 you feel blessed for as long as you had them.

So preparations began for us to say goodbye to her. Selfishly, I started to wonder. Would Curtis be mentioned in the obituary? I wasn't going to say anything. I don't want to cause drama. It wasn't my place, it wasn't my choice.

But I worry. I worry about him being forgotten, being overlooked. I understand (really, I do) that it isn't malicious. But, heck, he is important to me.

I shouldn't have doubted it, I really shouldn't have. But sometimes you wonder. With as many people that seem to brush past the topic or seem to think he isn't "real", you doubt.

Needless to say, he was mentioned. Twice. Once in the "preceded in death by" and the next in the part where it stated "In lieu of flowers, donations in the memory of Curtis...." .

I was, well...GIDDY....when I read the proof of the obituary. I mean, as giddy as one can be when it comes to losing a beloved family member. Not only was Curtis mentioned, but Craig's parents wanted donations to go to the foundation we are a part of that promoted stillbirth research and support.

It meant, and means, so much.

All I had simply wanted was his name mentioned. I didn't expect memorials in memory of Gram to go to the foundation who has supported us so much.

Like I said, when I don't have to remind people, when it is done for me? Amazing.

At her service a few days later, I was listening to the priest talk about Gram. Talk about her going to Heaven. About being reunited with her husbands. With Curtis.

I was not prepared to hear his name. I buried my face into my hands and sobbed. She had never 'met' Curtis. She wasn't at the hospital that day. She never held him. Hearing that they were together, despite where my faith is at, was beautiful.

I was trying to pull it together. Craig put his arm around me and whispered "You weren't prepared for that, were you?"

"No."

Had I been prepared, though, it may have not been so momentous. It may have brushed by me. I like that I didn't know, I like that he was mentioned for me without me asking for it. I like that Craig's family thinks enough about our baby boy to make sure he is mentioned. I know they miss him too.

So, we miss Gram. She had a wonderful life. She said she was ready, but no matter the age, when you lose a cool person-- it sucks. It is sad.

In the wake of her death, I have had some amazing moments. And I thank her and her family for it.

Amazing.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ugh!

Hi.

Things have been....chaotic here. Work. Family. Claudia.... plus...My laptop is sick. It is so sick. Actually, the screen no longer connects to the keyboard/computer part. So I have to prop it up against the arm of the couch to read/surf/post. And sitting sideways on the couch is weird. And a little uncomfortable. Plus, it makes Craig laugh. It is a weird sight, trust me.

My keyboard is also sick. The keys stick. Some keys are loose. Needless to say, I think it is time ofr a new laptop. I am so hard on computers for some reason!

We have had a loss in the family this past week. That is a seperate blog post, but it has kept me away from the computer as well.

Just wanted to check in, I have a few things to blog about soon as well as continuing the "our story" parts.