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