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.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Years ago, long before I had children of my own I would sometimes ponder the question, "What does a Stay at Home Mom do all day"?  I mean really, how much work could actually be involved in caring for a child or children at home all day.  I know there are things like keeping the house clean, grocery shopping, cooking, but those are all things that I do and I have a full time job.  I never expected to find myself in the SAHM role, answering my own question.  I had somehow completely neglected the fact that most of a Mom's day is consumed by, wait for it.... taking care of your child!

It's not that I was unfamiliar with the difficulty of caring for children.  For years I worked in a child care center.  Most of my time there was spent in the infant room.  A job that was challenging on a good day and pull your hair out, leave work with a migraine on a bad day.  Don't get me wrong, I loved my job.  Babies are adorable and even on a bad day it's hard not to appreciate their cute chubby sweetness.  However, at the end of an eight hour shift of wiping poopy bottoms, getting doused in breast milk spit up, having your hair pulled and being screamed at by multiple kiddos, I was glad to go home to a childless house. I always thought teenagers should be required to spend a month working full time in the infant room, it makes for excellent birth control.

By the time I decided to start a family of my own I was working in the toddler room.  A job equally challenging, but with more perks.  One and two year old children can give hugs, say "I love you", play games and just be hilarious.  They also don't spit up and some of them can even use the toilet.  As my due date drew near, I knew that I would go back to work after a 12 week maternity leave.  I had no desire to quit my job and stay home with my daughter.  It wasn't that I didn't appreciate what Stay at Home Moms did, it just wasn't appealing to me.  I loved my job, watching the children grow and change, the social interaction with my co-workers, and the sense of pride when I knew I was doing a good job.

My 12 weeks of maternity leave were blissful.  I snuggled my daughter, nursed her, played with her, enjoyed her every waking moment.  The one problem was, her waking moments were few and far between.  She slept a lot, and by a lot I mean pretty much all the time.  If she wasn't nursing, she was sleeping.  Sometimes she would even sleep while nursing.  I kept asking our pediatrician if it was normal for a baby to sleep so much, she laughed and told me not to complain about it.  Although my maternity leave was a bit on the boring side I did enjoy it.  I watched seasons 1-3 of Dexter, got my house cleaner than it had ever been and pumped enough breastmilk to carry us through the next few months.

Going back to work went smoothly.  My daughter continued to sleep her days away in the infant room while I played with the big kids.  I would take a break every day to go visit her and nurse or pump.  While I did miss her, my work day seemed to go by quickly and we got to spend the afternoons and evenings together.  When I had my miscarriage in November, things changed.  I started to realize how fragile life is.  How lucky I was to have my daughter.  As we started to try to get pregnant again I began to reconsider my life as a Working Mom.

By March the decision was made, I was going to quit my job.  We weren't yet pregnant, but I hoped to be soon.  I knew that I would have much more time with Gwenevere as my only child and I wanted to make the most of it.  I also didn't want to go through another pregnancy lifting 30 pound children, setting up and cleaning up twelve toddler lunches while struggling with morning sickness and sweating through the summer in a building without air conditioning.  My last day of work was the second week of April.  That week we found out that I was pregnant again, this time with twins.

It's been a year and a half since I have worked, in the traditional sense.  I am now a Stay at Home Mom and I must say that I love my new job title.  Is it as difficult as being a working Mom? Yes and no.  My schedule is more open and flexible.  I have more time during the day to run errands, work out, even take the occasional nap.  I also have to do all of this while caring for a toddler, a very busy toddler.  Keeping the house clean now means picking up toys, sweeping crumbs, wiping pee of the floor, making meals and snacks all throughout the day.  For every mess that is picked up, there is another mess being made.  I can grocery shop whenever I want to, but it takes about twice as long.  When Gwenevere goes down for her nap I can choose between working out, planning curriculum for her, cleaning or nothing.  It is not always easy, but it's a good fit for me. Becoming a SAHM is a decision that I don't regret.  I have one living child and I am glad that I am able to spend every possible moment I have enjoying her.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Am I Crazy?

This week I met with the Perinatologist (high risk pregnancy Doctor) for a preconception consultation.  I sat down in his office with my short list of questions.  There was really only one pressing question that I knew he wouldn't be able to answer.  Should I really try this again?  He went over my charts and began to discuss with me the possible causes for the loss of my twins.  Cervical deficiency, preterm labor, infection, all possibilities.  Not really knowing what the cause was, it is difficult to choose a path for a future pregnancy.
He drew pictures, made charts and answered all of my questions.  As I left the office he said "I'm sure we'll see you soon"!  I am not so sure.

Since the moment I gave birth to my first child I have known that I wanted another.  Even while in labor I kept saying "Next time we should...".  I have always pictured my family with two or three children.  I understand the one child family, I grew up as an only child for 9 years and I have no complaints.  But it is hard for me to temper my desire to have another baby to love and watch grow up.  I also know that giving birth is not my only choice.  There is adoption, a choice that I have considered.  Unfortunately the financial and emotional toll to go through the adoption process in not a possibility for my family right now.  There is also the option of finding a surrogate, once again very costly.  There are many reasons for me wanting to try again.  But mostly, I'm not ready to give up my dream.  My dream of carrying a baby through 9 months of pregnancy, giving birth and bringing a healthy baby home from the hospital.  I also know that there are no guarantees with any pregnancy.  It is always a gamble.

As the Perinatalogist explained, I may have no problems with another pregnancy.  I may be able to carry a baby to term without a hitch.  However, something could go wrong again.  I keep weighing my options, trying to decide what the best decision is for me and my family.  I know that my husband is on board with whatever I want to do.  I am so lucky to have his support.  I also know that he is scared.  Not only did he suffer the loss of his son and daughter, but he had to watch his wife unravel with no way to help.  I think he is not only afraid of losing another child, he is afraid of losing me.  I have come back from my son and daughter's death, but I don't know if I could come back from the loss of another child. 

Throughout this decision making process I keep wondering if I am crazy to even think about trying again.  Maybe my body is done, maybe this isn't going to work.  But I don't want to give into the fear.  I might be crazy, but if there is a chance that I can bring home a healthy baby I have to try.  I am filled with fear, which is not a great way to start.  I want so badly to be the blissfully ignorant person I was when I got pregnant with Gwenevere.  I read the books, I knew things could go wrong, but I never thought it would happen to me.  Now I know I will never feel the same way looking at a positive pregnancy test.  It used to mean "I'm going to have a baby"!!!!!, now it just means "I'm pregnant".

When we will start this next leg in our journey we don't yet know.  I know one thing though, I will not wait to announce my pregnancy.  I will need all the good thoughts and prayers that I can get!  If I have to be paranoid and anxious for 9 months, everyone else around me should share the burden as well.  I have learned from my 1st trimester miscarriage that keeping a pregnancy and loss a secret does not make the healing process any easier, it makes it harder.  I can't imagine where I would be without the endless love and support I have received.  The kindness from family, friends and acquaintances means more to me than I can say.  Knowing that support system is there helps give me the strength to think about trying again, even if it's a little bit crazy.