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.