Sunday, December 21, 2008


Today brings pain, sadness, yet hope and peace. Pain and sadness because this is the day our precious son was due. Even though babies come on their own time this was the day we came to anticipate and look forward to. I wanted a holiday baby. He was due today on Winter Solstice. The shortest day and longest night of the year. I fantasized and imagined the weeks and days leading up to his birth.

I imagined he was going to be born around this time. I envisioned what his birth was going to be like. Warm cookies and Christmas movies playing. That is what I wanted. I wanted the atmosphere to be inviting and cozy. I was going to have a blissful and empowering birth surrounded by my husband, awesome midwife and daughters. This little tiny person growing inside me all this time was going to be born at home into my arms. He was going to be welcomed with Absolute love and joy. I was going to hold him tightly against my bare chest, kiss and smell his head and take in the whole experience. I was expecting this plump juicy crying baby. One I could nurse and cuddle up with. I wanted the prize. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

There was no pot of gold, though. No prize. No plump juicy crying baby. No happy birthday. Instead, 5.2 weeks ago at this very minute our precious Duncan was born silent. My absolute worst fear had come true. The one thing I dreaded throughout all of my pregnancies had finally happened. It was the day that would forever change our lives. It was the day the old me died and the new me was born. No longer was I the same woman or mother.

He is the son I'll never get to know. The hopes and dreams we had for him were shattered in an instant. Our whole world changed. Instead of expecting a baby at the end of the pregnancy I'm left with empty arms.

With pain and sorrow comes hope and peace. Our son may not physically be here with us, but he is in our hearts. He lives on in our memories. He will not be forgotten. He held on for just shy of 35 weeks. He was nestled in my womb and knew nothing but Love. He's our beautiful son. So very much loved and cherished. I know he's still with us. We finally have the answers and it can allow us to truly come to peace and continue forward on this journey.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

One month after the storm

All things considering, I'm doing good. Today at 9:40 am (the time he was born) I found myself reading yet another heartbreaking story of a mom losing her baby. All of the feelings I experienced that day resurfaced as I walked through her story remembering every detail of mine. Feeling as though I was hit by a train and had my life sucked out of me. Some days it still feels like a dream. Like I'll wake up and still be pregnant awaiting the birth of our son. That it was just a nightmare and not something *I* would ever have to experience because it's what other people experience. As much as I wanted to believe it only happens to other people, I knew that just wasn't the case and it can strike anyone. Reading countless stories over the years led me to believe it's not at all rare.

The morning I started to feel something was off I read a late term pregnancy loss story. I tried hard to stay away from any hint of late term pregnancy loss stories because that's the last thing any mother wants to think about. I felt I needed to read this mother's story and offer up any support that I could. It's always painful to read about a mother's heart being broken into pieces and dreams shattered. During the time that I was reading the story something just felt "off." Every other time I've felt off I was usually told that everything was fine and to remain positive. After reaching the "magic" week 13 all is supposed to be fine. At least that is how it usually goes. After getting to the next milestone of 24 weeks it gets even smoother. All of the worries I had in past pregnancies of not feeling a lot of movement and being reassured all was okay and everything turning out fine made me think it would be the case this time. But I just knew something was different. Shortly after I wiped the tears streaming down my face after reading this mother's story I ordered stuff for his birth. I was getting ready to order the birth kit and it dawned on me that I hadn't felt him move. For a second there I couldn't hold back the pessimism and told myself that I would be in the very same position. I just felt all doom and gloom. And I was right. My instincts were right. I went looking for his heart beat and couldn't get it. My doppler was dying so I figured that I couldn't pick anything up because it needed a new battery. I thought I picked something up after a few minutes. I want to believe I did. It read 136 and I found it low so I felt slightly reassured. That just didn't last.

I tried to put my worries behind me and keep busy, but after a while the worry wasn't shaking. I tried some more to find his heart beat and got frustrated with the dead battery in the doppler. I called Mark at work to see if he could pick up a 9v battery and he told me we had one. What a relief I thought that was. I didn't have to wait anxiously for him to come home with one. But now with a working battery I knew I couldn't just chalk it up to a dead battery making it harder to locate heart tones. The afternoon didn't bring anything promising and only revealed what I already knew. My baby was gone. I tried frantically to find his heart beat for two hours off and on. Mark came home saw me on the bed with a stark worried look on my face and new something was wrong. He could tell I had been trying a long time. All he asked was how long I had been trying. All I could say with tears in my eyes was, "Too long. Over an hour." I tried to remain calm and collected, but in the back of my head I knew he was gone. I tried to analyze the situation and take a pragmatic approach and I think much of that had to do with trying to shield myself or protect myself from the hurt and pain I knew would come flooding in once it really hit me, my baby was dead.

I kept thinking maybe I could wait until my next appt. with my midwife since it was the following day, but I knew I couldn't wait that long and I knew deep down inside she wasn't going to be able to reassure me. I had to call her and tell her my deepest fear. I knew I couldn't wait until the next day. I could tell she was trying to keep my spirits up but she knew as well as I did that heart tones at that point in pregnancy are not difficult to find. It never took me longer than 30 seconds to find his or the girls' heart beat.

So instead of waiting 'til the next day she came by. It seemed like the longest 90 minutes of my life. Waiting just to hear the bad news from someone else. She commented on how huge my belly was. I tried to hide my pain and worry and laughed about my ginormous belly. I put on a smile and tried to make jokes and lighten the mood. The whole 30 minutes she tried I didn't let my hurt show. I wasn't sure when it would all come out or when it would really, really hit me. I was guarded. I didn't want to believe it was happening to me. The whole drive to the hospital felt like it took forever. I tried to keep the conversation lively and asked about her births and we talked about the kids. Even though we had much of the same conversations before I needed something to talk about to take my mind off of what was coming next. It was all so short lived. I kept thinking in the back of my head that I *can't* be going to the hospital. That was NOT the plan. I did not want to step foot on the labor and delivery floor. I told myself that in this situation that was the place I needed to be.

I already knew what I was going to be told when the CNM put the huge globs of ultrasound gel and the transducer on my belly. It's not like I didn't already know. Seeing no movement on the screen just cemented everything I knew and was feeling. The OB coming in to confirm he was gone really didn't hit me. I already knew. I knew when I put my doppler to my belly in the afternoon and couldn't find anything. I kept thinking that it couldn't be real. This couldn't be my situation. I was supposed to have my beautiful baby boy at home welcomed by my arms. He was supposed to be born in a serene and peaceful environment surrounded by his loved ones. I was supposed to hold his warm body tightly against my bare chest and be overcome with joy and love. This was not the experience we had been planning throughout my entire pregnancy. I couldn't fathom having to prepare myself to deliver a dead baby. I wasn't going to hear or see the crying pink baby, instead mine was going to be lifeless. Instead of being greeted with happy faces and nurses everyone was sad. No one knew what to say. Just sadness. Even with all of the sadness I told myself that if all I was going to have is almost 35 weeks with him, then it's a good thing I cherished those weeks and took in every moment we got to spend with him after his birth.

I've learned a lot about myself this past month. This experience has shaped everything about me and the impermanence of this life and how it needs to be cherished. It has taught me so much.

I long to have my arms full. I want something to look forward to. I want to experience the joy of welcoming a new baby into our life. I have so much love to give and I want to share it with a new little person. To go through a pregnancy and childbirth only to have empty arms hurts so much. The idea that I have a "history" and will have to go through two pregnancies just to get one baby is hard to take in sometimes. Having to tell people that I have three children but I get the privilege of raising two just seems so... not right. I'm miss him so very much. I have learned to adapt to my new world and draw strength from myself and loved ones. I do my best to keep my spirits up and stay optimistic. I knew he will always live on in our hearts and will forever be loved and cherished.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Yearning to have my arms full

I want to be pregnant again . . . like now. At the hospital I knew I wanted to be pregnant again right away. That urge to bring forth a life, especially after a loss, is so strong. I want that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. A rainbow baby. Days following Duncan's birth we began talking about names. I was obsessed with wanting to be pregnant again. I desperately wanted something to look forward. A new hope. A new life. Something. I want the experience the ups and downs of pregnancy. I want to pull a plump crying baby to my chest and have the cocktail of motherly hormones wash over me and not sadness and heartache. I want to experience Ultimate Joy of bringing forth a new life. I want to be pregnant again.

At three weeks postpartum, I took a pregnancy test and it was NEGATIVE. I was never so happy to see a BFN in my life. Yes! My hormones are returning to normal. My body is beginning to heal and return to normal.

My wish can not come soon enough.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Road No Parent Should Have to Travel - Day 16

Today marks the end of day 16 in my "grieving my dead child" journey.

We returned home from visiting DH's family for Thanksgiving this afternoon. I enjoyed our time away, but I couldn't wait to get home. We'll be heading back in two weeks to spend Christmas up there. We initially didn't plan anything for Thanksgiving. We figured we'd just go out to eat. It wasn't until the last minute did we decide to head to VA for the holiday. DH thought it would be a good change of scenery and help keep me distracted or busy. It was actually nice. I just wasn't sure how his family was going to react once we arrived. What they would say. But I guess there's not much anyone can say. Days following his birth family asked what our plans were, in terms of a memorial service. We were never comfortable with a religious service since we're nontheists. Mentions of a church service just didn't jive well with us. DH told some of his relatives we had no plans and left it at that.

Anywho, when it came time to actually getting together with relatives it was somewhat awkward. I wanted them to say something and not act like nothing happened, but then I knew in the back of my head that they likely didn't know what to say or do. No one said a thing until late Thanksgiving Day when DH's Nana came to visit. I know she took it really hard. I was relaxing on the couch and she came and sat by me with a stack of newspapers and homemade cards. She told me she had to do something. She put in a lovely remembrance in Sunday's newspaper. One of DH's uncles made some "In Memory" cards to give to family. That was so nice of them to do. It broke my heart when she started to tear up when she brought up buying Christmas ornaments for the kids. With a very soft and shaky tone while trying to hold back tears she said she got Duncan's ornament before the 13th. I couldn't hold back the tears. I could sense the hurt she was feeling. She thought she upset me by giving me his ornament. In no way was I upset. I was thinking so many things that moment. Having spent the whole day distracted by Thanksgiving festivities and relatives to have someone show that they were thinking of us was comforting.

During the whole trip I carried with me a baby blanket a friend made for me (thank you, Lora). Having something solid to hold on to has brought me much comfort. I'm sure some of the relatives were wondering what was up with the baby blanket I was toting around. I needed something to hold on to. Since my milk dried up reality really hit me. I have no baby to hold, nurse or care for. Those afterbirth hormones really do a number. These past 16 days have ranged from times I feel coherent to times I'm just numb. I have come to accept that what once was no longer is. The hopes, dreams, excitement, expectations, anticipations I had are no longer there. I'm reminded of that when I open my dresser drawer and see a purple box with a satin ribbon with keepsakes in it. When I think back to walking out of the hospital not with a baby but that purple box. I came home with a box. There was never supposed to be a "coming home" anyway. He was supposed to be born at home in a warm, loving, serene and peaceful environment. He was supposed to be welcomed by my arms, held tightly to my chest while I basked in the wonderful experience and joy that bringing a new life into the world brings. But that is not my reality; it is not my world. It was the reality I was expecting to experience before realizing my son was gone on November 13th.

I'm determined to face this unfortunate "journey" head on. I need to. I don't want to be numb to the process. I don't want to fade away into some shadow world. I need to not shy away from dealing with grief. It is there and won't go away. It needs to be faced head on.

Sunshine After A Rainy Day

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