Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Future

What I wouldn't do for a crystal ball right now.  I would love to look ahead and see what my life will look like in five or ten years.  I want to know what my family will look like.  So much of my stress and anxiety is spent worrying and wondering what direction my life is heading.  Will I ever have another healthy baby again?

If the answer is yes, I could rejoice.  I could relax and celebrate in knowing that we will once again experience the miracle of giving birth to a healthy beautiful baby.  I could relish these last few months/years of having my daughter as my only child.  Truly engaging in my life as it is and enjoying every moment.  I could stop the constant worry and wondering if she is it.  I could breath a sigh of relief and relax.  I could move forward with my life.

If the answer is no, I could handle that.  I could grieve a little bit more and start to focus on enjoying my family of three.  I could really spend every moment just enjoying where we are and taking in everything.  I could stop wondering when I ovulated and when I should take a pregnancy test.  I could prepare myself for mothering an only child and stop worrying about how old she'll be when we bring a new baby home.  I could plan trips, big trips.  Not having to wonder if I might be pregnant and if I'll be on bed rest.  I could give away our enormous stock pile of baby gear.  Empty the nursery and turn it into a reading room.  I could drink wine whenever I wanted to and not worry if I am maybe 3-4 weeks pregnant.  I could move forward with my life.

Instead I am stuck in the wondering.  In my mind I am constantly bouncing back and forth between two people.  The person that will once again welcome a baby into our family and the person that has to accept that our family is complete.  I know there is no real reason to believe that I will not be able to have another baby.  I have done it once, very successfully in my opinion.  I carried a baby to 39 weeks with no problems.  But it's so hard to forget the other pregnancies.  The three pregnancies, four babies that ended with empty arms and tears.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Back To Square One

*This post was written 2/2/14

Eleven days ago I found out I was pregnant.  I paced back and forth in the kitchen waiting for the results of a home pregnancy test.  When I checked it there were the two pink lines.  Not being one to always trust just one test I bought a digital test the following day.  There in bold letters was the word "Pregnant".  This was it, we were actually pregnant once again.  To say it has taken a lot of courage to get to this point is an understatement.  It took my husband and I over a year following the birth and death of Penelope and James to even think we were ready to try again.  But here we are, ready to face the fear.

For about two days I felt optimistic about this pregnancy.  Surely with everything we've gone through this would be okay.  Then on Saturday morning, the panic set in.  I woke up at 3am with thoughts racing through my head.  I knew I wouldn't be able to go back to sleep to I went downstairs, made a cup of Sleepy Time, lay on the couch and settled in for a mini marathon of "The League".  After several hours I drifted back to sleep and what seemed like moments later was woken up by my husband asking why I wasn't in bed.  I then went to the bathroom and my heart sank, I was spotting.  I remembered having some spotting with all of my other pregnancies so I tried not to panic.  But I also prepared for the worst.  It was the weekend so I knew I couldn't talk to my OB without calling the emergency line.  So I cried a little and just went ahead with my weekend hoping for the best.

By Monday morning the spotting had stopped and I decided to call my OB anyway.  The nurse recommended having my levels drawn just to check and make sure the pregnancy was progressing as it should.  I had my blood drawn on Monday and again on Wednesday.  Each day that went by I felt increasingly confident that maybe everything would be okay.  Thursday morning I got a call from the nurse with my lab results, they didn't look good.  My hcg was going up, but not nearly at the rate that they would like it to.  So they sent me in once again to get my blood drawn on Friday.  I was given a number that I could call that evening to find out the results.

All day on Friday I kept bouncing back and forth as to whether or not this pregnancy was viable.  In some ways I was already grieving, assuming that this was a miscarriage.  At other times I was hopeful, thinking that maybe my numbers were just a slow start and surely this lab would show a great increase.  I called the number at 7pm, right after getting home from my daughter's first dance class.  The woman on the phone gave me the my number, my hcg had gone down.  My mouth got dry and I felt a lump in my throat.  I said thank you and hung up the phone.  I went downstairs and told Micah the news.  He hugged my for at least two minutes.  We didn't say anything to each other.  My three year old continued to play in the family room completely oblivious to our loss.

Today I am feeling many things; sadness, disappointment, anger, unfairness, numb, relieved. Mostly I find myself wondering why.  Why did this happen?  Because this loss happened so early I am not really mourning the loss of a baby.  This was most likely a blighted ovum, which means the fertilized egg implanted but never started developing into a baby.  I am mourning the fact that the small amount of hope I had left seems to be gone.  We will try again, but I have very little faith that we will have another healthy baby.  I know that logically it is possible, but right now it feels hopeless.

Friday, December 13, 2013

'Tis The Season

December is perhaps my favorite month of the year.  Despite the freezing cold weather and treacherous driving conditions I find it to be a magical time of year.  The month of December rings in with my daughter's birthday, this year she turned three.  Then later that week is my husband's birthday as well and St. Nicholas day.  Then the next three weeks are filled with anticipation for the big day, Christmas.  I love the birthday celebrations, the shopping (online mostly), the beautiful snowy weather, decorating the house, drinking hot chocolate, watching Christmas movies, marking the advent calendar, and enjoying time with my family.

The first Christmas following the birth of my first born was perhaps the most magical.  I was a new Mother in a constant state of awe and bliss.  With the help of my husband I had created and given birth to another person, a beautiful little baby girl.  I couldn't have been happier.  On Christmas Eve we dressed our daughter up in an adorable red velvet and white fur trim dress and took pictures of her under our Christmas tree.  I couldn't have imagined a better Christmas present than a new baby.

My daughter's second Christmas was a mixed bag of emotions.  I was so happy to be celebrating another holiday season with my husband and now one year old daughter.  But the pain was still fresh from my 10 week miscarriage over Thanksgiving weekend.  I was still mourning the loss of that tiny baby, wishing I was still carrying a life inside me.  We pushed forward and celebrated as usual, with the pain of our loss always present.

The following December was even more difficult.  We were four months out from the loss of Penelope and James.  December was their due date and we couldn't help but wonder what this time of year would be like if they were still with us.  We tried to find ways to include them in our Christmas celebrations.  We put their names on our Christmas cards, hung stocking from the fireplace for them, made a special Christmas ornament for each of them and lit candles in their honor at our Christmas dinner.  It didn't really matter how many things we did to remember them, the pain of missing them was in our faces all the time.

Now it is approaching our daughter's fourth Christmas season.  She is full of excitement and anticipation at the arrival of Santa and presents.  We have begun to decorate our house, the stockings are hung, the Christmas cards are sent, the lights are up, and our Christmas tree is in the works.  This year my heart is lighter.  The heavy ache that I felt last year has lightened, though it is still there.  We will continue to honor our babies by hanging their stockings, placing their ornaments on the tree, honoring them in our Christmas cards, and lighting candles for them. These are traditions that we will continue for as long as we feel the need to.

Even though over a year has passed since our loss, this time of year opens the wound a little bit.  It is a special time a year, a time for family and celebration.  I think anyone that has lost someone they love misses them a little more at these special times.  We are reminded of what this time should be like if they were still here.  As I continue to prepare for the big day it hurts as I buy gifts for only one child and donate money to The March of Dimes instead of buying toys to fill my twin's stockings.  It hurts as I take only one child to go visit Santa at the mall.  It hurts to know that my son and daughter will never know the joy of celebrating Christmas with their family.  I miss them everyday, but this time of year I am missing all that could have been.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Only Child

Since the day I lost my twins I mourned not only for my loss, but for my daughter's loss.  She lost a brother and sister that she would never even get to meet.  I had imagined so much for the three of them.  The twins and Gwenevere would have been almost exactly two years apart, and Gwenevere would get two siblings in one shot, not an opportunity that most of us get.  I figured that with two new siblings in the mix she would have been able to build a lifelong close relationship with at least one of them, hopefully both of them.

Growing up I was an only child to my parents for nine years.  To be perfectly honest, I loved it.  Although, by the time I was eight years old and my parents told me that I was going to be a big sister I was thrilled.  I couldn't wait to have a baby in the house, hopefully a sister.  To my delight, three months after my ninth birthday we welcomed a baby girl into our family.  Anna was adorable, but not much fun in the beginning.  There was lots of crying, much less attention for me and not much sisterly bonding.  There were fun times too, eventually.  Helping her eat, giving her baths, playing with her as she got older.  Now as an adult I can't imagine my life without my wonderful sister.  She has grown up into an amazing, strong, intelligent, witty woman and I love her.

While I want Gwenevere to have a sibling to share memories with and build a lifelong friendship with that is not enough of a reason for me to have another child.  In fact there is no guarantee that she will even like any other children we have.  Our next kid could be a real dick, you never know.  Most of my friends have at least one sibling.  Some have wonderful relationships, others dread having to see their siblings at family get togethers.  Just because you have the same parents doesn't mean you are going to be best friends.  Having spent half of my childhood as an only child and half as a sister I can say that it's pretty fun both ways.

I just wish our society didn't place such a stigma on the only child.  Yes, it is wonderful to have someone in your family that you have shared experiences with.  Someone that is tied to you for life.  But isn't it also wonderful to have a childhood filled with undivided parental love?  Never having to share a bedroom or babysit for free.  The role of the only child is drastically underrated in our society.  

I don't know how long Gwenevere will enjoy the role of only child.  But I am confident that for now she is thriving.  

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

1st Grandson

My husband's side of the family has been rocking a baby girl streak for over three years now.  First was my niece Maris, then Gwenevere, then three more girls, then my stillborn niece Meah.  Not long after Meah was born still, my husband and I found out that the twins I were carrying were a girl and a boy!!  The girl streak was officially over, the first grandson was on his way.  Two months later the first grandson came into this world and quickly left.

Now, over one year later we've welcomed another niece into the world and this week came our first nephew.  Although he is our first nephew, he is not the first grandson.  My son James will always hold that title, even if my husband and I are the only ones to recognize it.  I knew that eventually someone in the family would have another boy, it was bound to happen.  I just didn't realize how much it would hurt.  

Micah and I will hopefully have another baby someday, and that baby may be a boy.  However, he will not be our first son, he will be our second.  I realize that I view my children in a different light than the rest of the family.  To me they are just as real as my living daughter.  I felt them kicking in my belly, gave birth to them, watched them wiggle in my arms and watched them die in my husbands arms.  Not many people got to see them alive, including everyone in my husband's family.  His parents were able to come visit us that night and hold our babies, but they were already gone.  To my husband's siblings and step siblings, James and Penelope are nothing more than pictures and ashes in matching heart urns.  I understand that to most people my babies are nothing but gone.

With these feeling of sadness come equal pangs of guilt.  Why can't I just be happy?!  Someone has brought another beautiful, healthy baby into this world and I just feel bitter.  I hate that this is the person that I am.  I am so tired of being the grieving mother, I just wish I could move on.  I knew from day one that this process of grieving would be the biggest challenge of my life, and some days I am just not up for it.  Today is one of those days.

Monday, October 7, 2013

A Little Known Secret of a Berieved Parent

I love my child more than you love your child, there, I said it.  I am not saying this to be cruel or hurtful.  I am not doubting how much love you have for your child.  I am saying this because as any bereaved parent can tell you, it is true.  I am completely aware of how much love a parent has for their child.  From the moment I saw my daughter's puffy squishy face I fell hard for her.  It's not the kind of love you have for a friend, or sibling or even spouse.  It is it's own unique brand it is is unbreakable.

When I say that I fell hard for my daughter I mean it.  People tell you that until you become a parent you can never imagine what that love feels like.  That is true.  I can't even begin to explain how much love I felt for my daughter from the moment I held her in my arms My heart felt like it was going to explode.  I literally couldn't take my eyes off of her.  While there are many people in my life that I love, this love was so much more intense.  I am not saying that I love my daughter more than my husband, I don't.  There is no way to compare the two types of love, parental and romantic.  All I know is if I met my husband for the first time covered in blood and amniotic fluid and he was naked and crying I don't think it would have been the same.

From my experience of having a child and knowing that kind love I do not doubt any parent's love for their child.  Even in those moments when their patience is being tested to the max while their toddler is sprawled out on the grocery aisle floor flailing wildly and the parent is wondering if they can just walk away and pretend it is someone Else's child, there is love.  It is a deep, ever growing, unbreakable love.  It's the kind of love that enables a parent to get through the sleepless nights of caring for a newborn.  It's the kind of love that endures the years of teenage angst.  It is powerful stuff.

Even with the knowledge that I have of how deep a parent's love is for their child I can say with confidence that I love my child more.  It is hard to explain how much deeper my love is now for my daughter than it was fourteen months ago, but it is.

After seeing two of my children die in front of my eyes, in the comfort of their father's arms, I am changed.  I know that Penelope and James have given us many gifts, but the one that I am most thankful for is how they deepened my love for Gwenevere.  There is not a moment that goes by that I am not overwhelmed with gratitude for my oldest daughter.  There are many times that I just look at her and my eyes well up with tears.  I revel in the miracle of her mere presence.  She is here, she is amazing, and she is my child.  

I have had many people tell me how my story has impacted their life.  They hold their babies a little closer, give their children a few more hugs, and appreciate them a little more.  I have know this feeling as well.  Before my twins were born a close family member's daughter was born still.  My heart ached for her family.  I cried many tears over their loss.  I touched my own pregnant belly and I felt guilty that my babies were still here and her baby was gone.  I felt lucky.  But to say that I was equally affected by her loss would be untrue.  It wasn't until the death of my own children that I really knew what loss and despair felt like.

While I am appreciative of how my love for my daughter has changed since the death of my twins, I still wish it had never happened.  I with that no other families ever have to go through this type of loss. Yes, I love my child more than parents who have never been through a loss do.  But I would trade places with them in a heartbeat.   Because I can't, I will relish this new love that I have for Gwenevere.  I know a special kind of love that most mother's will never truly understand. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Proud Mom

Recently while chatting with one of my neighbors she brought up how much she respected the fact that we chose to celebrate our twin's birthday this year.  She began to tear up as she told me the story of her brother that was born when she was twelve years old.  Her brother only lived for several days and he was never held by anyone in the family, not even the mother.  When he died the family never spoke of him again.  My heart aches for her, for her family.  I can't even imagine trying to go on with life pretending that my child never existed. 
I have had many people comment to me how strong I am.  They tell me that I am so brave to speak openly about the loss of my children.  Most days I feel neither strong nor brave.  I speak openly about my son and daughter because I love them.  I carry pictures of them in my purse that I am just as willing to show people as pictures of my toddler.  I am so proud to be their Mom and it is impossible to hide that from the world.  I don't think it's brave of me to speak about them, I think it's essential.  My family is everything to me and they are part of my family.
Although I have chosen not to be quiet about the death of my twins I respect and understand why some parents chose to remain silent.  It is not fun to watch the face of a stranger contort from a smile to a twisted, shocked frown when you answer their question of "How many children do you have?" with the honest answer of "One living daughter and two in heaven".  It is uncomfortable at best.  I'm sure there are several people that I have met that are simply too taken aback and may choose not to interact with me again.  I'm okay with that.  Those are not the kind of people I need in my life.
Last month while shopping with Gwenevere she spotted a sparkly shirt with two kittens and a balloon on it.  In large words across the front it read "I'm The Big Sister".  I purchased the shirt without much thought as well as several other sparkly shirts.  She has worn it several times, for three days in a row at one stretch.  I know she is not a typical big sister.  There is not a baby in her home that she gets to help out with.  However, she is a big sister.  She has two siblings, both of which she talks about fondly.  They are often woven into her pretend play and bedtime stories.  I am aware that it will be awkward when a stranger asks her who she is a big sister to.  I am okay with that.  I am tired of the world being afraid to talk about pregnancy loss and infant death.  If it means a few moments of discomfort with a stranger, I'm willing to do it.
It has been over a year since my son and daughter died.  They feel just as much a part of our family now as they ever have.  My love for them continues to grow as I find little ways to fit them into our daily lives.  While they are no longer here, we have several treasured pictures and keepsakes that serve as beautiful reminders of them.  I don't think I'm doing anything extraordinary by talking about them.  I'm just being their Mom.