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.