Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Don't Put All Your Eggs in One Ovary

And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. ~ Unknown

Here we are again. Me versus another barren Christmas. Last year at this time I should have still been pregnant. I wasn't of course. So instead I prayed for a Christmas miracle. I prayed that God would bless me with another baby that would be here in time for this Christmas. That wasn't to be either. This year, I'm scaling it down a bit and praying for a Christmas conception. Isn't that how it works? I just keep bargaining with God like he's the guy at the flea market selling the knock-off Coach and eventually I will get what I want? I'm not exactly a theologian but I'm pretty sure the Bible doesn't promise that.

At any rate, we are taking a more proactive approach this year. An approach that I have been hesitant to pursue. Trying to conceive naturally for over a year without any success is hard enough on the spirit. But to involve doctors and drugs and treatments and to invest money and time and other resources...well it's an even more draining approach. But we have decided it is time to journey down that path.

Our new game plan involves moving forward with AI with some slight variations given my funny anatomy. Dr. Fertile Myrtle will conduct a monthly ultrasound to see which of my ovaries (right or left) will be releasing the egg for that cycle. If it's my right ovary, we are clear for insemination. I was pregnant with Caleb in my right uterus and it is definitely the bigger and safer side to attempt another pregnancy. Sadly, if it's my left ovary poppin' out the egg we are out of luck for that month. Trying an insemination in my left uterus is not only risky but almost impossible considering my doctor can't really access it.

So it sounds simple enough, right? Well it could be, but it can also be very difficult. Since my right uterus is much smaller than a complete uterus it's very dangerous for me to get pregnant with more than one baby. So the medicine they typically have women use to stimulate egg development is out of the question for me because it also increases your chances of ending up with 8 kids and a reality television show. Or, in my case, probably another loss. No big deal, you say, just wait until you ovulate on your right side. The problem is that there's no way to predict which side will release the egg. My left side may decide that it wants to pull rank over my right ovary and the more room-y uterus and spit out eggs for the next several months. In that case, we are just at a stand still. And the drugs that they could give me to stimulate both ovaries to produce eggs are banned from my medicine cabinet. Sure, we can try on our own. But the odds are very slim (like 0%) that I will get pregnant on the left side.


So as for that Christmas prayer of conception...well it's out. My ultrasound on Wednesday revealed that my left ovary produced the egg this cycle. So another barren Christmas awaits me this year but I have not lost my hope for a very fruitful 2010.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Please Remember Me

It's not how long a star shines, but the brightness of its light. -Unknown
Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. At 7 p.m. local time all around the world grieving parents, family members, and friends are lighting candles in honor of babies that were called home to spend eternity with the Lord.

Tonight, just like last year, Brandon and I lit a candle in honor of our son and for all of the other babies who stayed just a minute but changed the lives of so many.


To every parent who has ever lost a baby whether it be through a miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, prematurity, or any other tragic circumstance. This candle is for your angel. Or maybe your baby wasn't a baby at all. Maybe he was 5 or 24 or 36. This candle is for your angel, too. To every parent who has ever had to arrange a funeral, plan a memorial, buy a headstone, or kiss a cold forehead. This candle is for your angel. To every parent whose memories aren't memories at all but rather hopes and dreams that were shattered the day you learned your baby's heart would beat no more. This candle is for your angel.

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. It's meant to bring awareness to those who have suffered the loss of a baby. I'm very aware, but I wish wasn't.

For more information please visit
http://www.october15th.com/ .

Saturday, October 3, 2009

What A Difference A Year Makes...In Some Ways

Goodbyes are not forever. Goodbyes are not the end. They simply mean I'll miss you, Until we meet again! ~Author Unknown


Yesterday was one year since I gave birth to our beautiful baby boy. It wasn't the birth I imagined only weeks earlier. It was quiet, fast, and not physically painful. Still it was my first birth and I own those memories. And I own his memory. It is up to me to make sure his little life wasn't in vain.Yesterday being one year since the day I brought a tiny,lifeless baby boy into this world, I tried my best to honor his memory.

The day started with Brandon and I reading Caleb's memorial in the newspaper.

Later we picked up some donations for Touching Little Lives from my mom and sisters. This wonderful organazation handmakes clothing, blankets, and stuffed animals for premature, stillborn, and low income babies. When Caleb was born we received a beautiful gown, blanket, and hat. This was our chance to give back to other families going through a similar struggle.

After a very peaceful lunch with Brandon, we went shopping for our own donations for TLL. We picked up some beautiful fabric, yarn, and ribbon. We found the most beautiful fabric with stars and moons on it and bought all they had left! I think that was a sign from our little guy.

We met up with Marianne from TLL and gave her all of the donated items we received. Thank you to everyone who donated both materials and money. They were so thankful for everything they received.

Finally, we headed down to St. Jospeh's Cemetery to complete what we have decided will be our yearly tradition. Earlier in the day it was raining but the sun came out as we were driving. It turned into a beautiful afternoon and the clouds almost brought tears to my eyes.

Once we got to the cemetery, we left the flowers at the statue at the front of the baby section. Then it was time to let our balloons go.



And you can probably guess what happened next. Yup, they got stuck in the tree, Brandon's popped, and I cried. We even made it a point to walk as far away from the trees as we could, but the wind still carried our 3 little balloons bound for Heaven right into them. Brandon assured me that Caleb probably thought it was hilarious until I started crying. And that he probably would have popped them as soon as he got them anyway. After I calmed down, I came to the conclusion that maybe they didn't need to go all the way to Heaven because yesterday Caleb was with us.

After leaving the cemetery, we headed down to the farm markets and pumpkin patch. We bought 4 pumpkins this year- one for Daddy, one for Mommy, one for Lacy, and one for Caleb. Caleb's was a little bigger this year because, as Brandon said, he is a little bigger this year.


One the way home we drove past the cemetery again only this time our balloons weren't in the trees any more. Caleb must have taken them back to Heaven with him.

I have missed my son every single day of this last year. Often times, I miss him so much that I cry. I'm not crying for him though, he is at peace. The Lord spared him even one minute of suffering on this earth. I cry for myself and the hole in my heart that will never be filled. I cry for Brandon everytime we pass a park and a father and son are playing catch. I cry for everyone else who loved Caleb. I cry because each day that passes is one day further from the short time I spent with him. My memory becomse more blurred and I remember less and less. The way he smelled, the way he looked, the way he felt.

I never want to forget and yesterday I didn't.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

One Year Ago This Game



College Football...in the midwest it's a sure sign of fall and a way of life all year long. I've been an Ohio State Buckeye fan since I was old enough to hold a pom-pom. There are pictures of me as a toddler walking around in a Buckeye's cheerleader uniform. Gamedays are a huge tradition with my family and friends.

When I was pregnant, one of the first things I bought was a bib that said "I Slobber Scarlet and Gray". Once we found out we were having a boy, Brandon and I bought Caleb every Buckeye outfit we could find. My original due date was scheduled the same day as the National Championship game that every Buckeye fan prays we will play in every year. I imagined laying in the hospital bed, nursing Caleb, and watching our Bucks bring home a National Title.

I had visions of Caleb playing football one day, taking him to games in the 'Shoe, and establishing that weekly autumn tradition with my little boy. My uncle (the man that raised me as his own daughter) made OSU games one of the most memorable parts of my childhood. I couldn't wait to pass that on to my little one.

Tonight, OSU is playing USC. It's a huge game. Two top ten teams going at it. Tickets were $4,000+ in some cases. The whole town of Columbus is basically tuned into this game. This is a make or break game for OSU and for all it's fans. All I can think about is last year, when OSU and USC met for a game on a night like this, at this same time. The weather here was almost the same. All my friends and family were talking about the game all week. I watched the game on the same TV, wearing this same shirt, with the same excitement. One thing was so different then though.

Last year, when I watched this game, I had Caleb with me. He was rooting the Buckeye's on with his mommy and daddy. We were counting down the days until he would join us and we could put all the adorable little scarlet and gray outfits on him. He was still here, very real to me- not just a memory. Not just a could have been or should have been. People were all too eager to talk about him. To share in my excitement about having my very own lil' Buckeye.

Not anymore.

My son is gone. My happiness, my excitement, my hopes are gone too. I miss him so much tonight. He should be here, cheering for our team with me. He should be wearing a little jersey. I should be plastering my Facebook with pictures of him. But he's just not.

The entire city is buzzing with excitement for this match-up that is about to start and all I can think about is how much better things were one year ago this game.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Something in the Air

Bittersweet October. The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause
between the opposing miseries of summer and winter. ~Carol Bishop Hipps
We've been having unseasonably cool weather the past couple of days. It feels and looks like early Fall. Nobody is at the pool, enjoying the last few days of summer break. Everyone grabs a sweater before heading outside. If I hid the calendar, I would swear that it was October and not August.

This mild weather has transported me back to last year. To the last time I felt weather like this. The temperature outside has that same crisp feeling that it did on October 2nd, 2008. The night that I left the Maternity Ward feeling very un-maternal.

The grass is getting darker- turning from it's usual bright summer green, to a more muted green that it turns every year just before dying. I look out my window and see the same color grass I did on October 4th, 2008. The day that was supposed to be my baby shower, but instead turned into a day of visitors dropping off flowers and food and making awkward conversation before quickly shuffling out the door.

There is even a smell in the air. I'm pretty sure it's a Midwest smell symbolizing the end of pool parties and cook-outs and the beginning of college football and leaf blowing. It's the same smell that was in the air on October 26th, 2008- the day we had Caleb's memorial service. I stood there, in front of family and friends, reading a letter I wrote to Caleb- feeling the crisp air, noticing the dying grass, and smelling that autumn smell.

I was closer to him then. His hospital gown still had the remnants of his smell. People around me still let me grieve openly and honestly. I could still remember the way his skin felt against my lips.

The weather is back, but my Caleb is gone forever.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Our Thing

Sorrow you can hold, however desolating, if nobody speaks to you. If they speak, you break down. ~Bede Jarrett

I've been M.I.A. lately. Writing about Caleb, whether other people read it or not, is helpful sometimes. Most of the time actually. But there are times, like these past few weeks when writing is just too much. It brings up too many emotions that are already making it hard just to live life each day.

Brandon tells me that Caleb is "our thing". I can't expect other people to remember him, to celebrate his life the way we do. He says that by expecting that from everyone I'm just causing myself more pain. I KNOW he is right. It makes sense. He's our son--we are the people responsible for his legacy. Still, sometimes is nice when people remember. It's nice when grandparents include him in their counts of grandchildren or when people bring him up in conversation. I know I can't expect this from everyone all the time, but occasionally it's nice to know that people still care and remember him and the life that was cut way too short.

Caleb is "our thing", probably more so "my thing". I was the first one to know he was growing inside me, to feel him move, to hold him, to kiss him. The moment I found out there was a baby on the way my life changed. I started making all these plans. I had him grown-up and married off before I was 15 weeks along. Now here I am with nothing but a memory and a broken heart.

Oh...and some flowers....

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Longest Day of My Life....

I took last Thursday off from writing about Caleb's story. Writing and sorting through the emotions that come with remembering these events in such detail is very hard for me. Last week was a bad week and I was in NO WAY prepared to write. I'm back now and ready to share more of Caleb's story...

Tuesday September 30th, 2008 was a beautiful autumn day. The sun was shining and the smell of fall was in the air. The leaves were starting to turn and people were beginning to put out Halloween decorations. College football was well under way. People on the TV were talking about OSU's big game against Wisconsin the following weekend. It was a typical fall day in Ohio.

I remember that day in such detail. I absorbed every single minute of it. I don't always do that in my daily life. I tend to zone out a lot and find hours of my life gone without really knowing where they went or what I did. I never remember my daily commute. I don't really remember the details of the first time I met Brandon. My wedding day is a blur. And my high school graduation might as well never have happened. But this day was different...I was so alert for every single minute. It is burnt into my memory forever.

I started calling my doctor at 8 a.m. that morning. I wanted to see my doctor- I wanted him to do a real ultrasound and to tell me this was all some big mistake. I knew we would all laugh about it later. The doctor in the hospital last night didn't even say Caleb was gone. She never said those words so it must not be true. Besides that ultrasound machine wasn't nearly as nice as MY doctor's machine. Surely he will be able to find a heartbeat. These are the things I thought in my head knowing all along that I was lying to myself.

Finally, I got a hold of my doctor's nurse. She told me I could see him at 1 o'clock and then we could discuss our options. Yeah, like there were any. Brandon was sleeping and I was going crazy in the hotel room. I called my boss and told her. I talked to my Grandma, my uncle, and Brandon's mom. I didn't really know what to say, but I felt like I had to be strong. I woke Brandon up and told him we had to leave that hotel room. I felt like a caged animal. The truth is I could have been anywhere and felt that way.

I knew I couldn't go home still. All the baby stuff would be too much. We drove around pretty aimlessly for a while. Finally, after what seemed like eons, it was time to head to the doctor's office. Since it was a Tuesday, my doctor was working in another office out in a rural part of the area. The office is kind a generic office for many different doctors. They all share it and provide medical services for the people in the area. Tuesday's happen to be Gyno days in the country.

Not only do the doctor's share an office, they also share a receptionist. And this is how I encountered Awkward Moment Number 1 (I'm sure any parent's who have lost a child can tell you about these moments. They also happen at places like the grocery store when you bump into an old friend and they ask about the baby or when someone asks you how many children you have). Had we gone to the regular office the entire staff would have known who I was and what was happening. I had called the office 20 times that morning and talked to everyone from the nurse to the cleaning lady. But it wasn't that office. Instead, we got to play 20 questions with this receptionist. Finally, my doctor's medical assistant arrived and saved the day.

She called us back into the room and told us how sorry she way. She was so sweet that it made me feel bad for making her a party to this horrible event. Finally, our doctor came in the room. He hugged me and told us how sorry he was. Again, he is such a nice guy and I felt so bad for bringing him this pile of crap which was my life at the moment.

He told us we could wait and see if labor began naturally or I could go to the hospital and be induced. He spoke with the hospital staff and they said I could come in at 8 p.m. that night. I knew I couldn't walk around waiting for labor to start. I couldn't knowingly carry by dead baby inside of me. I had to go and I had to go as soon as possible. He said he understood and told me he would be on call all night, though he doubted anything would happen until the next morning. I asked him if I had to see the baby. At that point, neither me or Brandon thought we wanted to. He told us that we didn't have to, but he recommended it. Looking back, I can't believe I even thought I wouldn't want to see Caleb.

We left the doctor's office and had no where else to go. I was forced to face the baby stuff. We went home and I started calling funeral homes. Brandon and I discussed a funeral, but we both knew we couldn't do that. We would have him cremated and bring him home to be with us forever.

I talked to several people that day, but the conversation I remember most was with one of my best friends, Mandi. Mandi's son James was stillborn in 2004. We talked on the phone for a long time. We talked about seeing the baby, what to bring to the hospital, pictures, and outfits. We talked about how this is the worst thing that could happen and how unfair it is to lose a baby you haven't even met. We said that Caleb and James were now buddies in Heaven. We talked about how the pain never goes away but that it will become easier to deal with after time. She told me to hold my baby and to do all the things I would have done if he had been born alive. She told me how sorry she was that I had to join her "club". I'm very fortunate that I have had Mandi on this journey. A lot of mom's in my shoes are very alone, but I am able to discuss this with someone who I have known for a long time and who knows me inside and out.

After I talked to Mandi, I decided to take a bath and try "enjoy" what could be my last few hours of being pregnant. I shaved my legs and scrubbed the dry skin off my feet. I wanted to at least feel presentable during what I knew would be an otherwise ugly time. Then I took a short nap and got ready to leave for the hospital.

As much as I didn't want to go, I had to get it over with. Holding on to what was would have been pointless....

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Jury is Out

"There is not remedy for love but to love more." ~ Henry David Thoreau

In law there is this Latin term, Stare decisis, which basically means "that which has been decided". It's used to explain the obligation of judges to follow precedent that has been established in previous decisions.

When you are trying to conceive a baby there is this constant cycle that you live through. First you bleed, then you countdown the days until you ovulate, then you try, try, try, try, and try some more to plant the seed. The final step (and the most exhausting believe it or not) is when you wait. Some women call it their 2WW, or 2 week wait. It's the period of time from ovulation, and hopefully conception, until you bleed again. This 2 week wait for me is stare decisis.

It's been decided.There is NOTHING else I can do. My body knows if I'm pregnant, but I don't. There is no going back or trying more. The only thing I can do it wait. IT'S ALREADY BEEN DECIDED. Nature has to apply the facts:

Did I ovulate this month?
Did we try on the right day?
Did fertilization occur?
Did implantation occur?

The only thing I can do, and believe me I DO, is pray. I don't always pray that I will become pregnant. Sometimes I pray that God will help me see the blessings I already have in life. I pray that He will help heal some of my pain with that 30th day comes and I do realize that I'm not pregnant. I pray for understanding, contentment, love, and continued faith. But usually I'm praying for a pregnancy.

I don't understand why it's so hard. At this point, I feel like I have a better chance of winning the lottery than seeing a positive pregnancy test. Isn't it amazing how quickly that happened?!

So today is Day 29 and it's been decided. The jury will announce their verdict tomorrow. And there is NO chance to appeal the ruling.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Finding Out

Finding Out: Where the Heartbeat Would Normally Be

Monday September 29th, 2008. Ain't it funny the difference a day makes. I run across this date sometimes, usually at work, and I ALWAYS stop dead in my tracks.

It was just another Monday. I felt a little funny but I was getting further along and it seemed like pregnancy was affecting my body more everyday. I wish I could say that I didn't feel Caleb move around as much or that something just felt wrong, but that's not true. So much for maternal instinct, huh?

The last "normal" thing that happened that day was the electric company calling me to tell me our electric was shut off temporarily because someone had stolen copper wire from a sub-station. I remember laughing and joking with the customer service rep about the sheer stupidity of someone risking their life to make some quick cash. What a stupid memory. This would be the last time I laughed in that care-free kind of way for a long time. I called my Grandma to tell her about the electric incident and just to chat on my commute home. I didn't feel sick, I felt fine- energetic even.

This all changed when I got home. My right side started hurting and nothing I could do would make the sharp pain go away. I called my doctor's answering service and asked him to call me. I called my Grandma again- this time in pain. She told me to try laying down and wait for the doctor to call back. My doctor's partner called me back and asked me some basic questions. He told me it sounded like nothing but to go get checked out at the maternity ward anyway. I KNEW something was wrong. Brandon almost didn't go to the hospital with me. He was working nights at the time and was trying to get some rest before he had to go in. I remember standing at the front door being so irritated at him looking for shoes to put on. Internally, I knew the baby was in trouble but no one else did. This sounds awful but for a few seconds I was so angry with my husband. I was angry with him for taking time trying to find shoes, I was angry him for not knowing what I knew. My whole body was shaking but nobody else knew what I did.

We got to the hospital and got registered. I can remember the woman in registration asking me about some bill that I had just paid. I wanted to scream at her. I was sitting there in a panic with my husband who was clueless and this woman that wanted to discuss an $80 bill I had paid earlier that day. How could the whole world be so blind to what was happening?

Finally, I went back to the exam room. I had to give a urine sample and then the nurse tried to find the heartbeat. She couldn't. Another nurse came in and tried. She told me that they can be hard to find this early. Early? I was 26 weeks. I had heard the heartbeat very clearly at 12 weeks. One of the nurses said she thought she could hear something in the background. I'm sure it was my heartbeat. I begged for an ultra-sound. They paged the doctor and told me she would be right up. It seemed like it took hours for the doctor to get there. I said probably 100 Hail Mary's- just over and over again:

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen

Brandon held my hand and told me not to worry. I was crying and told him it was bad. The baby was gone. He told me that I didn't know that and the doctor would be there soon. But I did know that. I knew that while the nurse was checking for the heartbeat, I knew that when woman in registration questioned me about a bill, I knew it when Brandon was searching for shoes and socks.

The doctor came and started the ultra-sound. I asked where the heartbeat was and in a rather stern voice she told me she was looking. I said "He's gone, huh?". She pointed to the screen and said "Well, this is where the heartbeat would normally be." Not a very direct answer and certainly not the one I wanted to hear. I started screaming- real screams- blood curdling, heart wrenching screams. They wheeled me into a private room and sent a nurse and chaplain in to talk to us. Brandon called my Grandma. What a call that must have been. A few hours before I was laughing about people stealing copper. Now she was hearing that her great-grandson was dead.

Eventually, I calmed down. The nurse offered me sedatives but I refused. Brandon told me I should take them. I couldn't- what if they were wrong? What if the baby was still alive? What if this was all just a huge mistake. The reason I love my husband so much is because he is logical but he is also very patient when I am not so logical. He took my hand, looked me in the eye and just said "No. Baby, there's no mistake."

We stayed in the hospital for a while. Eventually, my mom, grandma, and sister came up. My husband's mom also came up. The nurse told me I could be admitted that night or I could wait and see my doctor the next day and come back. We selected the latter option. I needed out of that hospital- but I knew I couldn't go home. There was baby stuff EVERYWHERE. We decided to get a hotel room that night.

I will never forget that night as long as I live. Brandon and I laid awake all night talking about everything. We talked about our son, our future, religion, death and everything else. It was a talk that reminded me of our early days together when we would stay on the phone with each other all night discussing everything and nothing at all. Brandon was SO strong for me during this time. He just seemed to have this way of putting everything into perspective. I've heard losing a child can drive some couples apart but in our case I think it made us love and respect each other even more.

And that is our story. That is how we found out that our son, our baby boy, would be born but would never have life.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons. ~ Johann Schiller

Just because you've never held a crying infant or changed a dirty diaper doesn't mean that you're not a father; just because you have doesn't mean you are. - Me

The man I consider my father is not the one who gave me half of my DNA. I don’t share the same eye color with him or even the same last name. I don’t call him “Dad”, but that’s what he is. He is the one who taught me how to tie my shoes, pushed me on the swing set, took me camping, comforted me when my heart was broken, and walked me down the aisle when I got married. He taught me things about people, science, politics, and sports. His presence has always been voluntary; he is there for me because he loves me not because he helped conceive me.

Happy Father's Day, Uncle Danny.





And to my darling husband, on this which would have been his first Father's Day...

Caleb was very lucky to have you as a dad. Your love, support, and generosity to me is a beautiful testament to how you would have been as a father to our baby boy. I hope some day God will bless us again and all of the love we have in our hearts will be given to another child.

A girl searches her whole life to find someone who loves her as her father does, and I have found that in you, Brandon. I love you so much and I'm sure Caleb is sending his love to you this Father's Day as well.

Happy Father's Day, Daddy/Brandon. Love, Caleb and Summer


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Juggling

Be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact, and remember that Life's Great Balancing Act ~ Dr. Seuss Oh The Places You'll Go

There are these moments when I can feel myself losing grip. I can actually feel myself dropping the ball on something. Not on like a project for work or an assignment for school, but on an entire area of my life. I work so diligently to keep all the balls in the air, but I still feel like I’m just getting by. There is no breathing room and there is no room for error. All of these balls must be moving fluidly together in order for me to have peace.


Work Ball: This ball is time consuming to juggle. It leaves me mentally, and recently, emotionally exhausted. Dropping this ball is not an option because the Money Ball relies on it.

Money Ball: This ball has been the cause so many headaches and fights. Every time I get it where it’s supposed to be, at a comfortable height, it comes crashing down on me.

School Ball: Going to college was my dream starting when I was still watching Sesame Street and playing with dolls. Even so, the school ball is tedious and repetitive. I can never get ahead of it. The ONLY blessing with this ball is that I can see the day where I will no longer have to juggle it.

Marriage Ball: I abuse this ball. I take advantage of it and let it drop, knowing that I can go pick it up, wipe it off, and only be left with a little scratch. My reasoning is that the Marriage Ball is there for better or worse and letting it fall in order to save another ball is ok. One day I will drop this ball and it will break for good.

Health Ball: This ball is also dropped a lot. In fact, sometime around the beginning of October 2008 I dropped this ball and haven’t been able to find it since.

Relationship Ball: My friends and family ball. This is another ball that takes some abuse and neglect. I keep in the air, but it isn’t pretty. It keeps getting smaller and smaller as I go through life, and while that makes it easier on me now, it’s going to hurt in the end.

Grief Ball: This ball was thrown at me from 1,000 feet in the air at 100 mph last September. It’s enormous, almost too heavy to lift. When I first got this ball, all of the others ones fell by the wayside. This was the only one that I could hold and I could barely do that. Overtime, it got easier to handle and now I am able to juggle this one with all of the other balls. There are even periods of time when I can toss the ball so high in the air that it stays out of the way for a while. Then with no warning, it begins flying back at 100 mph and I drop everything and just lose myself in this big ball of grief.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Pregnancy

Beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it's the middle that counts the most.

(By the way, that's basically my favorite quote ever.)

My pregnancy went "normal" for the first 19-20 weeks, although it's hard to really say that because my original OB/GYN was a nightmare. I could go into detail about the hundreds of things he should have done but didn't do, but let me just sum it up like this...he NEVER called me by my correct name. Not once. Despite the fact that he had my chart in front of him. So if a doctor can't even be bothered to look at a chart to find the patent's name, how can anyone expect him to do much else? And he didn't.

At about 20 weeks, me and my hormones had all I could stand of this very poor excuse for a doctor. We switched to the most wonderful, caring, professional OB/GYN ever! I could sing his praises all day long, but I'm a bad singer so just take my word for it. He immediately got me in for almost weekly ultrasounds to check my cervix. Premature labor is a common problem for women with a uterine anomaly. My cervix was always thick and strong...or however a cervix should be. Sadly, it remained this way even after losing Caleb which resulted in 36 hours of "labor".

I had morning sickness all throughout my pregnancy. Brushing my teeth became a 30 minute routine every morning. *Insert toothbrush, begin brushing, throw-up. Rinse and repeat 5 times.
It wasn't all bad though. I just figured hygiene and the ability to eat breakfast would be the first of many of things I would lovingly sacrifice for my son.

Although it seems like Caleb has been with me forever, the truth is I was only pregnant for 6.5 months. And for nearly 2 of those months I didn't even know I was pregnant. So basically, the summer of 2008 began with Caleb and it ended with Caleb. It was a beautiful summer though. I can remember one Saturday morning in June, Brandon and I were up early and we were sitting on our balcony watching the sunrise. It was the most beautiful moment and I felt like, for that one moment, everything was as it should be. Deep down I also knew that we would never get a moment like that again.

July was exciting because we found out Caleb was a Caleb and not a Lucy*. I'm very impatient when it comes to surprises so as soon as we could I rushed us right in for a 3D ultrasound. Brandon later told me that when the ultrasound tech announced the Y-chromosome, he wanted to cry. He was SO happy to be having a son. The next day I was out shopping for nursery stuff. Stars and moons- with a color scheme of pale blue, brown, and yellow. All of that stuff is packed up now and I haven't seen it in months, but my heart still hurts a little when I think about it. Those are just things- they shouldn't bother me. They aren't son. My son never even saw or used any of that stuff. But they represent him. And all that he was to become, but didn't.

August was another month down. I was getting anxious. His actual due date was January 7th but the doctor had already told me we would be having a C-section probably near the end of December. We were approaching the final stretch. Our little dog, Brittle, passed away at the end of August. It was SO hard. I cried for days. I had visions of Caleb and Brittle growing up together. Brittle trailing Caleb as he was learning to walk, chewing up toys left laying around, and playing with him when he was lonely. August ended on a sad note.

Towards the middle of September, around 23 weeks, our doctor noticed that my amniotic fluid was low. He did another ultrasound around 24 weeks and decided to refer me for a Level 2 Scan. He speculated that Caleb may have some kidney issues due to some sort of genetic disorder. He also said it could be nothing, and it could be that the reason the fluid looked low was because I only had half a uterus and space was limited. He did one final ultrasound on Tuesday September 23rd. Our baby was still alive and moving that day. The Level 2 Scan was scheduled for Friday October 3rd. We found out Caleb was gone on Monday September 29th. That day will haunt me forever.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

For A Friend...

A friend from the Stillborn Support Message Board has decided to write a book about the experience of losing her beautiful baby boy. The book will be semi-autobiographical but she is also incorporating stories from other women she has met who are also in this journey with her. She has asked interested mother's to answer some questions about their losses. I have decided to contribute for several reasons: 1) She did this for me




2) At the early stages of my grief, and even now, I would have loved to read such a book and 3) I love to discuss Caleb. It's hard to believe it's been 8 months and sometimes I find myself forgetting things about him and the experience and I find that talking (or writing) about it helps me remember some details.

So instead of just writing one huge, gigantic post about an the 6.5 months I had with my son and the 8 months since he's been gone I've decided to do something a little different. Well, different for me but somewhat common in the blog world- I'm going to make a weekly post detailing my experiences. And since Caleb was born on a Thursday, the day now has a symbolic meaning. So without further ado, I give you Week 1...







Finding Out...

I didn't find out I was pregnant until I was 7 weeks. My husband and I had been together 5+ years and I had never even had a late period. Several years ago I was diagnosed with something called a Bicornuate uterus with a vaginal septum (later re-diagnosed as a Uterus didelphys). I never had a doctor flat out say this would prevent fertility, obviously it didn't, but they did say that it can cause some issues. I always attributed my husband and my lack of conception to this and figured when the time was right we would explore our options.


So needless to say I was very shocked when I found out I was in fact pregnant. I had the classic symptoms- sore breasts, morning sickness, fatigue, CONSTANT bathroom breaks. Finally, I took a pregnancy test on the morning of May 19th, 2008 and confirmed what I suspected. I'm not going to lie and say I wasn't scared. I made awful jokes (that I feel SO guilty about today) but that was my way of handling the news. My husband on the other hand was very happy and his reaction definitely calmed me down. I think all mothers must go through a roller coaster of emotions when they see those 2 pink lines- no matter what their current situation. Having a baby is scary. Period. I guess I had always just assumed the real trouble started AFTER you gave birth. Boy, was I wrong.

I think the scared feelings lasted for about a day and then it was a different feeling- one I had never experienced before and one I LONG for now. It was a nervous energy/more excited than I've even been/in love with someone so completely/maternal instinct/ Higher Power/natural/beautiful/happy/promising/complete/panicked /
calm/blissful/wondrous/amazing/heartbeats and morning sickness/hopeful/faithful/thankful kind of feeling.
It was everything rolled into one teeny-tiny person. First he was the size of a walnut, then a grape, then an orange, a grapefruit...the once in a lifetime feeling kept growing. Pregnancy is something bigger than us. It's like watching God at work right in front of your eyes. Rarely do people ever get to see miracles...but that's what pregnancy is. A miracle.

Two days after I found out I was pregnant I bought a baby book and my journey began...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Unbirthday

Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest. ~Larry Lorenzoni



One year ago today...I turned 23.

One year ago today...I was throwing up my all you can eat sundae bar.

One year ago today...I was 9w4d pregnant.

One year ago today...I wished it was today.

One year ago today...I didn't understand pain, loss, or sorrow the way I do now.

One year ago today...I was naive and believed that all pregnancies ended with a crying baby.

Yes, it's my birthday. No, I don't want to celebrate. What I want is to carry out the plans I made last year. I want to take my 6 month old son to the park and feed him his first bite of ice cream cake. I want a birthday card addressed to "Mommy". But I can't have those things. I don't even have the promise that next year will be different.

My son will never get a birthday so I don't want any more either. I declare today my very unhappy "unbirthday".

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Diary of a Chronic Procrastinator

Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow. ~Mark Twain



14 Easy Steps to Avoid Writing a Paper:

1. Have coffee and cinnamon buns with father. (Ok, ok- 2 cinnamon buns, you food nazis!)

2. Drive around town in a futile attempt to find FAVORITE energy drink...then settle on a BOGO Diet Peach Snapple. (Learn female kangaroos are called flyers)



3. Have a text-a-thon with best friend for at least 1 hour. (Recalling inside jokes from 7th grade is optional)




4. Check mailbox on a Sunday.




5. Get stuck behind someone driving 40 mph in a 55 mph zone(which everyone knows really means 65)but never utter so much as 1 swear word.


6. Tempt fate by taking self-portraits in said 55 mph zone. (never know when a future Facebook/Myspace default image may occur)








7. Make no real attempt to avoid red lights.




8. Play Hide and Seek in friend's Pole Barn.


9. Watch first episode of the new season of VH1's Charm School and for the first time really appreciate the importance of a positive male influence in a young girl's life.


10. Discuss procrastination issue and desire to complete homework in a timely manner with 2 family members, 3 friends, and dog.

11. Upload 4 months worth of digital pictures to Photobucket account.

12. Watch last 1 hour of Austin Powers Goldmember with husband while begging and pleading for a Frosty Float.

13. Devour Frosty Float in less than 4 minutes, causing 1st degree Brain Freeze.

14. Spend 30 minutes creating elaborate blog about wasted day, while blank Word Document causes extreme guilt which leads to a headache (possibly left-over Brain Freeze) and the declaration that the paper isn't really due until Tuesday anyway so it's not like there is any need to hurry.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

In the Beginning...It was dark

I stumbled across this today. This is my first entry on the Stillborn support board I'm a member of. I posted this on October 11th, 2008- 9 days after I gave *birth* to Caleb. It was a dark time and I didn't sleep much. I basically spent all day and night chatting with these remarkable women who helped me the hardest thing I've ever been through. Without them I'm not sure where I would be today.


I've been reading some of the other posts for a while and think that maybe I am visiting this site too soon. I just gave birth to my little angel on October 2nd- he was 26w1d. I have an amazing bunch of family and friends but I just can't open up to any of them. I feel so alone right now. Caleb was due on January 7th. He was in a breech position and because I have a didelphys my OB was planning a c-section for late December. I was planning on having my baby in my arms when we rang in the new year. 2 months ago I couldn't wait for Christmas...now every holiday decoration makes me sick to my stomach.

My fiance and I have been together for over 5 years and I've never had so much as a late period. I always assumed it was due to my uterine problems and doctor's assured me that when I was ready, there were options. Then it happened. He came into my life and gave me the hope of something that I never knew I wanted so badly. My last period was around April 3rd. Around the start of May my aunt became really sick (cancer) and we drove out to Iowa to visit her. With all the concern over my aunt I guess I didn't realize that I hadn't had a period in almost a month and a half. Then the symptoms started- getting sick when I brushed my teeth, sore breasts, that run down feeling- was I getting the flu? I was talking to my boss one day and she told me to go to the drugstore ASAP and get a HPT. Off I went, never expecting it to be positive. How could it? But there it was. 2 pink lines. The most amazing thing I've ever seen. The next day I bought a baby book and the rest is history.

I've never loved someone so much. I didn't care if it was a boy or girl. I just wanted to hold the little piece of me in my arms and never let go. I wanted to have the 'perfect family' that I didn't have. We were so excited. We did a 3-D/2-D ultrasound at 17 weeks just to find our the sex. A little boy. A perfect little boy. My fiance was so excited. He would have loved a girl he said, but boys are so much easier. Plus, who could handle a little me running around? I am a bit of a princess. The only problem was that we could not agree on a name. We had 3 pages of girls names. Girls can have adorable names but boys have to have something strong. It took us a while but we finally decided on Caleb. Caleb Patrick- Patrick after my grandmother Patricia. She raised me when my mother couldn't and has been the strongest influence in my life.

I made up little songs to sing to Caleb. I would talk to him in the shower every morning, on the way to work, on the way home, and my favorite time was right before bed. I would lay there before falling asleep, rub my belly and talk to my son. I would tell him how much I loved him, talk about things we would do when I he finally arrived, sing him songs, teach him how to pray. I loved knowing there was something growing inside of me. It made everything else seem so small and petty. Oh how I loved my little Caleb.

I switched doctor's around 20 weeks. My old OB was awful. My new doctor was amazing. He immediately had ultrasounds done on my cervix (pre-term labor is a common risk for women with uterine anomalies). Everything looked fine. My amniotic fluid was a little low but this could be because my uterus is smaller than most. They checked it one more time- still low- and scheduled me for a Level 2 Ultrasound with a high-risk doctor. Nothing to be worried about the nurse said-it's just lower than they like to see. No, nothing you can do to increase the fluid. Just stay calm and see what the high risk doctor says. Sadly, we never made it that far.

My appointment with the high-risk doctor was scheduled for Friday October 3rd. My baby shower was supposed to be October 4th (early so we could have it outside). Sunday September 28th I started cramping a little bit before bed. Nothing really bad, actually it felt more like heartburn in a weird way. I went to work on Monday the 29th and made it through the day but didn't feel right. I still had heartburn and now I had strong cramps in my side. When I got home they were so bad I couldn't sit up. I called my doctor right away and he told me to go to the hospital to get checked out. As soon as we got there I knew something was wrong. They couldn't find his heartbeat. He's little-sometimes they can be hard to find the nurse suggested. I started crying- I just want to go home I said about a million times. I think I said about a hundred Hail Mary's. Please just let him be ok. They brought the doctor in to do an ultrasound- no heartbeat and very little fluid. They wheeled me into a private room. I broke down. What a cruel joke the universe is playing on me. What kind of God takes someone's unborn baby? They induced me Tuesday night and I delivered Thursday morning. 36 hours of labor and for what?

Here I am almost 2 weeks later. Trying to stay strong but how can I do that? There is baby stuff every where. I hate seeing it but I can't manage to move it. I find myself rubbing my belly and humming a few bars of a song- only to realize I'm singing to myself now. People are supportive and I know everyone means well but nothing helps. Sure, I can try to get pregnant again. Maybe I'll even be a mom one day soon. I read a stat that said something like 60-70% of women are pregnant within a year of losing a baby. I don't know how accurate that is. No matter what I can't help but feel that it will never be the same. How will I ever love someone the way I love Caleb? How will I ever have another baby without feeling like I am replacing my little boy? How will I ever make it through another 9 months without wondering everyday if this one is going to leave me too? I feel like my innocence is gone. How can I do this again? Will my body even let me do this again? How can I be hurting so much for someone I only knew for several short months? Why my baby? Why can't I hold him and love him the way I want? I just want to scream!!! Maybe I'm being selfish but I just want him back. I really don't know how I can move on.

I Had a Dream Last Night...

Pay attention to your dreams - God's angels often speak directly to our hearts when we are asleep. ~Quoted in The Angels' Little Instruction Book by Eileen Elias Freeman


I've never had a dream about Caleb. Other mother's often say that their departed children visit them in their sleep- but not mine. I wish he would though, just once. I would love to see him again even if it was for just a fleeting moment in the middle of the night.


I DID have a dream about another baby last night. The baby was mine but he wasn't Caleb. He was premature and Brandon and I were visiting him in the NICU. He was very sick but I knew he was going to be ok. I knew this baby was coming home with us. But we didn't know when...


I read the autopsy report again the other night searching for some clue as to why I don't have an almost 6 month old baby boy in my arms right now. I Googled every word and phrase again. Scouring the internet for a website to finally just come out and say what I feel inside "You killed your baby." I looked for hours but I never found that one.

This is what I did find:

Placental infarcts, thrombosis, oligohydramnios, stillbirth


You'll be happy to know that other than the placenta basically being a useless piece of dead, clotted tissue, my son was perfectly healthy. His internal organs were either "unremarkable" or "glistening" and "as expected for this gestational age". He was doing exactly what he was supposed to be doing but my crappy placenta failed him and no one can tell me why.


Did I eat the wrong things? I know my addiction to the soupy combination of a Wendy's Frosty and french fries mixed together with a dash of salt probably wasn't ideal baby-growing food, but I ate really good food too! Fruits and veggies everyday.


Why did my body fail me?? I'll admit I didn't always treated it with the highest regard before I was pregnant but to retaliate by letting my innocent son die while I was left clueless for days seems a bit harsh. And why won't my body work with me now? What was so different a year ago that can't be recreated now??

I think it's pretty clear that the baby in the NICU sums up my feelings about becoming a mother. I pray that it will happen just at parents of preemies pray their babies will come home healthy. But just like them, the ride getting to that point seems to be a never ending roller coaster of sadness, pain, guilt, but most importantly...HOPE.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Really Trying This Time...

I've decided that perhaps I'm bulimic and just keep forgetting to
purge.
~Paula Poundstone

I've always had a weight problem. Pounds come on and go off. When I was about 19 (and at my heaviest), I went on a strict diet and lost almost 80 pounds. I gained about 20 pounds back and over the past few years I've lost it and re-gained it again. Actually, the day I found out I was pregnant with Caleb I decided to go on a diet. I was on the bad side of that pesky 20 pounds. I found out I was pregnant later that day and of course decided it wasn't the best time to diet. During my pregnancy, I gained about 30 pounds (keep in mind I was only pregnant for about 6.5 months). Since losing him, I have packed on another 10 pounds or so. If you are any good at math you will know that I am creeping very near that "heaviest" weight class again.

The shocking thing to me is that after I lost Caleb my appetite didn't go anywhere. A few years ago, when Brandon and I were going through our issues, I couldn't bring myself to eat. I was so sad and miserable. I lost 20 pounds in about 2 weeks. I thought it would be the same way with Caleb. I was sad and miserable but I was still hungry!

So today I have made a commitment to myself. I KNOW being overweight causes complications during pregnancy not to mention the added challenge it provides when you are trying to get pregnant. I'm also sick of feeling so awful about the way I look. I see pictures of myself from a year and a half ago and it's like looking at a completely different person. So as of today, I am vowing to change the thing that seems to be a roadblock to my happiness in so many ways. My ultimate goal is to lose 72 pounds, but I will take 40. :)

Here goes nothing...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Signs...


The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives
fully is prepared to die at any time. ~Mark Twain

When I was very young, there was a time period of about 7 months when I experienced 3 very tough losses. I was 8 years old and these experiences were my first memorable encounters with death. In March my grandpa (Pops) passed away. In July, my Uncle Robin died and then in October, we had to put our dog Gretchen to sleep. It was during that year that I really started to understand what it meant to die. Not in the Biblical sense, but in the physical sense. I understood the permanence in a way that I don't think most third graders are able to.


Anyway, about 4-5 months after my Uncle Robin died I had a dream about him. It's a dream I can still remember vividly to this day. In the dream we were in a 2 story house- which is strange because at the time of his death he lived with us in a ranch style home. He was in the living room on the couch and I was sitting on the floor. He seemed very torn- like he shouldn't be there with me. I could tell he wanted to be downstairs, to explain to me what was going on, but that he knew he couldn't be there. He started walking up the stairs and I asked where he was going. He told me his dad was up there.

Of course at 8 years old I didn't really know what to make of this strange dream. I remember talking to a friend about it several years later and she said maybe he is telling you not to worry about him because he is in Heaven with his father. Did my uncle really come to me in a dream to tell me he was at peace?


Years later, a few months after we graduated high school, a former classmate of mine passed away. We weren't close friends but his death really upset me. Maybe it's because just a few months earlier at graduation he walked across that stage with all the potential in the world and now he was gone. I went to the funeral, tucked the obituary and the memorial card away in a high school scrapbook and went on with my life. The following June, I had the strangest dream about him. At the time of his death, his high school girlfriend was pregnant with their baby. In my dream, he was talking to me about his daughter. Again, I had the feeling that he was torn between where he was supposed to be and being in my dream. The next morning I woke up and went through my old scrapbook. I found the memorial card and realized that it was his birthday. I had a dream about him the night before his birthday! I didn't know it was that day and I don't think I ever even looked at his date of birth before that morning, but sure enough another very surreal dream about someone who has departed this life.


So what's my point in all of this? Do I just have an overactive imagination? Am I just overly sensitive? I'm not sure...but what these experiences further reinforce to me is that the loved ones we lose along the way aren't lost forever. We will join them again one day in a perfect place. I can't have a conversation with my uncle, or see my high school friend, or hold my baby in my arms...but I am given something much better than all of those things. I am given the promise that when I depart this life I will be united with all of them for eternity. There will be no torn feelings and no pain. Just peace and love in the glory that is the kingdom of heaven.



Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day


A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. ~Tenneva Jordan


I love this first quote because it reminds me of my Grandma (Nana), Patricia. She is the most patient and caring person I know. She has made so many sacrifices in her life just to better the existence of those around her. She is the one behind all of my successes in life and the one who comforts me in all my failures. Caleb's middle name, Patrick, is in honor of her and of all of the love she has given over the years. I wish her a very Happy Mother's Day!





She never quite leaves her children at home, even when she doesn't take them along. ~Margaret Culkin Banning



This second quote reminds me that even though our children aren't physically beside us, we still carry them with us in our hearts. Caleb's memory is with me in all that I do. On my wedding day it was very important for me to have a physical reminder of him present. Nana bought me a beautiful opal necklace (Caleb's birthstone). I haven't taken the necklace off since that day and whenever I need a little comforting, I rub the stone and remember my beautiful son and his loving Great-Grandmother.


Happy Mother's Day to all the mother's out there. Whether your baby is with you on earth or is waiting for you in Heaven, YOU ARE A MOTHER and today is for you.





Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

Happy Easter sweet Caleb. We are missing you so much today and our hearts ache because you aren't with us. We hope you have a wonderful Easter in heaven.


Love,


Mommy and Daddy


Monday, March 23, 2009

Wishing He Was Here

I haven't posted in a long time mostly because I was busy with wedding plans, school, and work.

The wedding went beautifully. Just as we hoped it would. I realize it wasn't the "perfect" wedding in the traditional sense, but it was the perfect wedding for us. We honored Caleb which was so important. And although some people (or one person) chose to cast a negative light on that and on our wedding day in general, overall it was the day I have always dreamed of.

Weddings are so much more than picking the right cake or choosing the perfect song for the first dance. Weddings are a celebration of love. Brandon and I have been through some very hard times in our years together. Those who have known us for the duration of our relationship know this. We continue to experience hard times every single day. I will never pretend that we are a perfect couple because we simply aren't. But in the grand scheme of things I don't think it's the perfect moments that you remember when you are 90 years old. I think you look back at the hard times and remember how you fought to overcome the adversities that were placed before you and how the struggle made you even closer. Our wedding didn't celebrate how perfect our love is or how right we are for each other--our wedding celebrated how committed we are to creating a lasting love and life together in good times and in bad.

It was a beautiful day and when I stop being lazy I will post a ton of pictures. But for now I leave you with these few....

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The New Little Girl in Our Life

There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face. ~Ben Williams

I'm a little late on posting these. This is our new little girl. We got her on December 13th. She is a little of 4 months old (17 weeks as of yesterday to be exact). She is the perfect addition to our family and brings us so much joy!



Lacy with Daddy


Lacy (left) and her sister Lily



The picture that made us fall in love with her




Little Lacy wearing her Christmas present- She LOVES clothes! What a little fashionista!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. ~Hal Borland



January 1st, 2009...Wow! Six months ago when I thought ahead to this day I thought it was going to be so different. I pictured holding a brand new baby in my arms while people stopped by to pay a visit to the little one. Of course, we all know that's not what I'll be doing today. But I can't be disappointed. Caleb is in Heaven and is spending New Year's Day with someone who loves him even more that I can. And while I still wish he was here, 2008 has taught me, more than ever, that we can't plan our days. They are already planned for us. All we can do is be prepared for whatever comes our way, trust in the Lord, and keep an open heart and an open mind.