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Milestones March 18, 2012

Posted by dreamom in 1000 Gifts, Faith, family, Fears, Goals, Happiness, Home, Life, Peace, Pregnancy Loss.
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As humans we are drawn to milestones.  There are birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, coming of age celebrations – We use them to measure our lives and accomplishments.  We use them to celebrate and revel in the joy of making it to the next milestone.

Some milestones are not as pleasant to dwell on.  We tend to dwell on them too as we remember, relive, and grasp at the loss it represents.  Recently I was up too late on the computer, and I noticed that the date rolled over to the 2nd of March – marking one month since finding out about the death of the baby in my womb.  At that moment it gave me pause, and I faced with apprehension the coming 24hrs and what emotions that might bring.  I posted on Facebook to mark the event and went to bed.

It was only one month previous that I got the news, I faced head on a very dark time as I faced the loss, made decisions and waited.  I remembered the despair, the confusion, the feeling that nothing was ever going to be okay again.  I woke up in the morning and I was surprised that initially I … forgot.  I intended to take the day as it came, and when I did I found I was not focusing on the pain that I was remembering.  I was moving through my day and I was not pulled back to the place of sorrow and tears.  Instead I was grateful for the distance I had come.  I was thankful that those huge, harsh emotions I felt were not threatening to overcome me again. In fact, I found I had to remind myself of the day from time to time.  At one such point I began to ponder why.  Why am I WORKING to revisit a pain that I am not feeling?  I decided that if I started to feel the pain that I should address it, but otherwise I did not need to force myself back there.

It is now a little more than 24 hours to marking one month since Hannah’s birth.  Again I find that I don’t feel the pain that I feared I might.  I am remembering the joy.  The joy of the support of friends, the joy of seeing Hannah, the joy of moving to the next step…

Today in Sunday morning Bible Study I was reminded of my old stand-by verses:

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything”  James 1:24

and I also thought about:

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Now who would get something for which they consider it a joy (a birthday present for instance), thank the giver, and then a month later think back with sadness, regret, or even anger?  For me this is what this is like.  I CAN look back on various aspects of losing Hannah and find lots of things that hurt, moments of loneliness, words, actions, inactions that hurt.  But why?  Why take something that I DECIDED (it was not a natural inclination, but a conscious decision that required purposeful action to carry out) to “Consider … pure joy”, and take the gift of “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” and set it aside for the sorrow, grief, pain, emptiness, envy, despair, anger, etc. that I would be left with?  I could use it to mark the days.  I could use it to say “See what I suffered?”, but the fact is I can’t.  I have gone there numerous time looking for it.  Expecting it.  I have been told flat out that it is there, but I can tell you that today, and the days I have checked with certain trepidation, that it is not.

I can tell you that I wholly and fully gave all of that to God.  When I was not eating (dare I say fasting), and I was reading the Bible, I was counting the gifts, I was offering *with thanks* the whole experience to God  – something amazing happened.  He did exactly what he said he would do.  He took it.  He gave me a “peace that transcends all understanding” (even mine – ESPECIALLY mine).  I don’t intend to hand that back.  What I do plan to do is that as the days, weeks, months and years wear on I plan to keep giving thanks, for everything he gave me, but none less than the peace I have.  If a day comes where I find those emotions and scars that I expect to find – I plan to do just as I have done.  Consider it joy, give thanks, and give it to God.

As for marking the days that I could – I am not going to try.  I am going to see what days become important.  I am not going to paint them with the brush of loss, but see what gifts God chooses to bestow on those days.  I will not be marking milestones of grief, but rather will celebrate in all that God has given me through this unique journey he has taken me on.

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What Is In A Name? February 28, 2012

Posted by dreamom in Faith, family, Happiness, Home, Life, Pregnancy Loss.
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Juliet:

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

I fear I have to disagree with the great poet and playwright, Shakespeare this time.  With all my other children I can give them a lot of things, but the thing I ponder most seriously are their names.  I make a point of picking a family name – to encourage a sense of history and legacy that I hope my kids will take an interest in and consider.  Secondly I give them a Biblical name for a similar purpose.  I hope that they can take pride in the source of their name and through that find meaning.

In the case of Hannah – a name is all I have to give her.  She doesn’t need anything I can give her at this point.  For that reason the consideration of her name was a most thoughtful one, as it is my only connection to her as the years wear on and the memories of this time in my life dim as they blend into the mosaic that will be my life.

She is the only one of my children without a family name, and although at the time it was a trumping by the Biblical meaning that I was wanting to pull from the moment to represent her, it feels fitting in a way.  She is so special in the way she touched our lives without us getting to know her the way our other kids are known.

The first name I knew I wanted was Heaven.  I had heard of using it as a name before, and liked it, but couldn’t fathom using it.  As soon as I was looking for a girls name I knew this was the child – since with the small exception of 21 short weeks in my womb, that Heaven is the only home she has known.  When I first told my husband that I wanted this name I think he was surprised, and had not considered it a name but was easily won over.  Few other names fit such a small life, really.

We were pondering whether to give this child one or two names, and we quickly settled on the same two names that all our children have.  At that moment I remembered being in a Bible Study in the fall and they were talking about Hannah, the mother of Samuel.  I have always loved the name Hannah, but never found it worked till now.  It wasn’t the devout mother who gave her young son to the priest to raise once he was weaned that I remembered though.  It was the Hannah before that which spoke to me now.

6 And because the LORD had closed her womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. 7 This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the LORD, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. 8 Elkanah her husband would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted?  1 Samuel 1:6-8a NIV1984

Now I realize that with four healthy pregnancies my womb has been anything but closed  This time it was, and much too soon for my liking.  When I first found out that my child had died within me I was downhearted, I wept, and I did not eat for about a week.  It was the deepest despair that I had ever experienced, and I had no idea how I was supposed to move forward.  I don’t regret that.  I needed that time to feel the pain and live it.  I needed to face it and decide where in my life that pain was going to fit.  It was essential in my processing of the situation, and my finding my way to healing.

By giving my daughter the name Hannah I am honouring that part of my journey.  She is the greatest of joy to me, as any of my other children, but she is also my greatest sorrow.  I am tempted to want to forget that part, but the fact is that I can’t forget the pain and heal.  For me healing is acknowledging the pain, and the depth of it, but not letting it taint who I am and my experience with my daughter.  When I say “Hannah” I remember the despair – and I remember the mother that gave her child back to God for the mere honour of birthing him.  Hannah will always be my daughter, but she is more God’s than mine, and always has been.  I did have the honour of birthing her though, and for that I am grateful.

So what is in a name?  Pain, weeping, despair, dedication, perfection, peace, and a home with God.  It is the story of my daughters birth on earth, birth to heaven, and my handing her back to Him who sent her.

Soooo… What was it like? February 25, 2012

Posted by dreamom in Faith, family, Happiness, Home, Life, Parenting, Pregnancy Loss.
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I can’t say that I have had this exact question, but the fact of the matter is that this is what I was trying to find out before hand – I wanted to know what to expect – but there was nothing to prepare me.  That being said I am told that it is different all the time, so my experience might be of limited usefulness, but it is not an issue for me to talk about so this is me sweeping open the curtain of this taboo subject and inviting all who have been through this at any stage to comment with YOUR experience – even if you post it as anonymous.  I am being descriptive of the process I went through, so keep that in mind if you think you might find it difficult for you to read…

My Story

Those reading have read a lot about my emotional journey through this, but there is so much more.  Hand in hand with that was the physical aspect of losing Hannah.

The weirdest thing was that prior to finding out from the ultrasound, and for what seemed like a long time afterward there was no physical sign that she was gone.  I had an anterior placenta so I was not feeling movements much by that point anyway.  This of course meant that the news came out of nowhere, and then was almost unbelievable.  It WAS believable though as I felt the loss and grief the hardest during that time.

In actuality is was a mere four days before I had bouts of spotting/bleeding and cramps.  The cramps were rhythmic and at times fairly uncomfortable, so I believed and hoped that it would be soon.  In retrospect I am glad it wasn’t as I had a lot of grieving and processing to do.  Shortly after 24hrs of start and stop contractions they would stop entirely until I took something to induce them a couple weeks later.  The spotting and bleeding didn’t though.  That kept up for the entire two weeks and would result in my being very housebound as I was nervous about the birth suddenly happening while I was out and not in my safe space of home.

Every day I lived with the uneasiness of the birth starting and my not having support with me, and everyday I had a visual reminder that this was REALLY happening.  It was both torture and reassuring.  A true double edged sword.

I tried several emotional clearing and homeopathic methods for spurning on the birth.  In the end I chose that when two of my close friends were with me that I would take a tonic to induce labour – which it did – within minutes of taking it under my tongue.

When they started the contractions were fairly light and not terribly rhythmic.  for reasons which I could not explain, except that life goes on, in that early part of labour my friends and I were laughing and joking around, and it mostly only hurt when a contraction coincided with a laugh.  They got gradually stronger, and were noticeable uncomfortable for periods of time.  They were not as rhythmic as  I was expecting, and they were not as strong as I was waiting for either.  For many hours (about 4) my friends and I visited and chatted and waited for labour to pick up.  It didn’t.  It just rumbled along, and I fought feeling discouraged as I felt the contractions spacing further apart and lesson in intensity.  At that point my friends and I decided that we should sleep as we had been up all night (I took it late at night thinking it might take time to start having an effect).  I dozed off and on – occasionally stirring awake with a contraction just to doze off again.  In the early morning one of my friend’s baby woke up and I woke her up to go nurse her.  The contractions were still coming, but were not rhythmic, and were lighter than the night before.  I was feeling discouraged.

My friends and I discussed taking more tonic, but I was not feeling settled with that decision and dragged my feet doing so.  As the house woke up and my husband and kids were downstairs getting breakfast and starting the day I was feeling antsy.  Suddenly I felt like I had to pee – I went, and I felt I needed to go again.  There wasn’t really anything there, but I would head right back because I FELT like I had to pee.  I came back from my 4th or 5th trip to the bathroom, and I felt a really strong contraction start.  I felt hopeful – this was the strongest I had felt all night!  I tried to breathe out the pain, but it didn’t work, and it was just getting sharper.  I tried shifting my position to manage the pain, and it didn’t work – it hurt so badly I felt cold all over.  My friend glanced at my shifting and moaning, and said “You look a little transition-y”.  I remember glaring at her and saying something along the lines of “I am afraid to say that it is transition or it will all stop again!”.  She asked if I wanted to move to the area I had set up to birth on, and I said sure.  She helped me over and went and got my other friend.  At this point the ‘contraction’ was certainly subsiding.  I was feeling discouraged and thought that I might indeed just nap again.

At that point it got very strange for me.  I didn’t feel any pain, and no contractions, but I had this … urge to breath out deeply.  I thought maybe I was supposed to push, but there was no urge, and nothing to push against.  I looked at my friends and told them I was confused.  I felt my body was wanting me to just breath.  One of my friends looked me in the eye’s and said “Your body knows – just listen and relax.” Then she put her hand on my shoulder, and I felt the tension of the confusion just melt out of me.  I took deep breathes and just breathed them out hard and slow.

Suddenly I felt a ‘spoolsh’, and that was it.  I sat there while my friends checked and it seemed like everything was out.  I just sat there.  I didn’t look down, I just sat.  After what seemed like a long time I needed to pee – for real this time – and I carefully got up as my friend covered the ‘baby’.  When I got back I sat down and my friends and I looked at what I had laboured out of me.

It was amazing.  It was the placenta with the amniotic sack intact.  Even that was incredible.  That was something I had hoped for weeks earlier.  To my friends I had said “I also got an email from someone who told me about her m/c at 12.5 weeks and the baby was born in the sack. It gives me something to hope for – it seems- gentler…” just three days after hearing the news, and now over two weeks later that very wish came true.  I felt no grief.  I felt blessed.  I knew the baby was dead, nothng was changing that – but here there had been a grace – for me.  It was of no benefit to the baby to be born in the sack, but to me it was a blessing, and I basked in that grace in that moment.

As we sat on the bed and opened the sack and discovered the miracle inside I couldn’t help but be mesmerized by the wonder in my hands.  Although I would wish a thousand times over that she was still thriving in my womb, it was amazing to see such a small person in my hands.  Her feet were not quite the length of my baby finger nail, and it was amazing.  We gently unfolded her tiny body and marvelled at how perfect she was – despite the obvious effects of that time in the amniotic fluid waiting to deliver.

We took lots of pictures – my husband came and saw her, the midwife came and looked over everything and was pointing out the anatomy of the placenta to me.  A friend had knit a tiny little hat for her, but it was huge, so her hat became her nest and she was nestled in a small box in her nest and her placenta still attached.  It was the perfect farewell after the longest 2.5 weeks of my life.

Once I had showered and got settled in bed my midwife checked my blood pressure and told me sternly to rest as I just had a baby.  I smiled and nodded, and intended to do just that.  The problem is that I don’t FEEL like I just had a baby.  I am not nursing a baby, napping with a baby, or feeling the physical effects of having just had a baby.  Not even afterpains.  I only know it when I have overdone it and I end up needing to rest longer to make up for the lost iron, if nothing else.

It was the most strangely, wonderful, most sorrowful experience of my life thus far.  I still look on her birth as perfect.  I still look on her life and heave a heavy sigh for the moments I thought I would have, but didn’t.  But I DID get to see her.  Touch her.  To see the amazing thing my body was producing.  Shortly after the birth a friend messaged me that her fetal cells are in my blood for the rest of my life.  I looked it up, and it is true!  Hannah’s cells are a part of me, and will do active things in my body that people are just starting to understand – like repair tissue and offer protection from disease.  To me that is amazing.  And a comfort.  I have not lost her – she is a part of me.

I have no idea what the next few months, years, decades will look like, or how this experience will impact them – but I feel ready for it.  I feel ready to see what life after the death of my child will be like.

Do you have a story to tell?  I would love to hear it.  🙂

19 Days February 22, 2012

Posted by dreamom in 1000 Gifts, Faith, family, Fears, Goals, Happiness, Home, Life, Pregnancy Loss.
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This story starts on the day that I found out that my baby had died in my womb. After hearing the news from a midwife I had not yet met, having the OB on call at the hospital near by phone with answers to some questions – she asked if I knew what I wanted to do – I could go see the OB to talk about induction with Mesoprostal (Cytotec) or a D&E (the big brother of the infamous D&C which involves the added step of cutting the fetus into manageable sizes for extraction), or go home and wait for my body to deliver my still baby. The only options that seemed reasonable at all was waiting and induction. I looked around the office at the pictures of developing babies, and at the multiple bulletin boards of people’s pictures with their babies sent to thank the midwives for being with them for their child’s arrival. I said “My plan was always to deliver at home unless it was medically necessary to do otherwise. I still feel like that is what I want. Can I plan on that for now?” No problem. Very reasonable.

In a stooper that was brought on by the axe of grief being applied heavily to my womb, I left. I visited some friends and went home. There I fell into a grief that was wider and deeper than I knew was possible. For a couple of days I did not sleep, for several I did not eat. I went to the Dr, and saw the OB and discussed options and had blood work explained and done – and all of it was in a fog. I had friends all over the world holding a space for me to cry and talk, and vent, and question. From where I am now that week seems surreal – like a dream. Being a ‘religious person’ it was impossible that my faith would not play a role. Much like I believe that God created me, and my body, and the birth process, so I believe that He created the process to clear a pregnancy that is not viable. I decided early on in the process that not only did I deserve the homebirth I had planned, and my baby deserved the homebirth I had planned, but that unless it was medically necessary at some point that God’s design for my body would work, and I would deliver this baby without interventions.

When all this began – in that first week I was sure that this was the worst thing that had ever, and could ever happen. I thought that if I made sure that this experience had a permanent place of being monumental that my baby’s life would matter. It became this cornerstone for my faith that I needed to see through. As people commented and pushed and questioned and ‘expressed concern for my health’ over the choice to wait for God’s timing, and wait for this delivery to happen naturally **unless it was medically necessary to do otherwise** (<< key point here – I kept under the watchful eye of the local OB who was supportive, and dutifully had blood drawn twice a week to screen for problems that might indicate a need to re-evaluate the plan) I became hemmed into the choice I had made. I had people who had made different choices for themselves, or perhaps some weren't given choices criticizing me for waiting. I was risking my life, according to them, and that was not fair to my husband and kids… My mom will tell you that I am stubborn like my grandmother, and all the pressure was doing nothing but strengthening my resolve to see this out. Suddenly my baby's delivery was not only a process for me to go through and accept, but necessary to prove that God, nature, and my body could and would know what to do – and NOT to me, because I *know* – but to all the people I was feeling pressured by – most of whom were Christians themselves.

Throughout this process I was healthy (after I resumed eating) and could do anything I wanted, but didn't like leaving the house much – especially alone. The only thing that anyone could promise me was that the process is not one you can predict – less so than with a full term delivery – so the idea of delivering my dead child in the grocery store, or church did not appeal to me and I chose to stay close to home. This also meant I did not see a lot of people, but the same friends were holding my space and 'hanging out' on Google+ regularly and were my connection to the outside world when the outside world stayed away.

As the days wore on I grieved, I got books to read, planned how to handle the delivery and the body, and everything in between. I revisited my 1000 Gifts book and listed 18 things about the situation at that point that I was thankful for. During this time I made an important decision. As much as this news rocked me, and was challenging my beliefs, testing my resolve, and forcing me to learn things that I would have been happy to stay ignorant about for the rest of my life – I decided that This. Was. Not. Going. To. Define. Me. I had already lost the baby, but that was not WHO I was, but rather just one thread weaved through the fabric of my life. Where that thread was, and the prominence it would have would make no difference to my child – but it would to me. I want it to be there, and special, but not the central thing. Making this decision was a huge milestone in my processing of the whole thing. It had to be. It was up to me how this aspect of my life would affect me, and who I was… It didn't really change anything I was doing, but it changed how I thought about it.

Over the following days I would pick up my friend who came by train from Montreal with her toddler to see me – someone she had never met in person (just over FB and skype) but wanted to be with me through the process. The following weekend another friend from Montreal was coming to spend the weekend and take her home. Over the course of the next week there was much talking, tears, and chocolate, and my resolve was to have this baby with them with me.

In an effort to speed things along I tried homeopathic remedies, accupressure and trying to make sure that I was not mentally holding on at all. All the while praying for my body to release my dead child. I was sure that these things were going to work, but then they didn't. There were signs that it was close – but it didn't happen. I was SO frustrated. The friend coming on the weekend offered to bring something with her that should work that I could use at home, but that I didn't have to use it – she knew I wanted to wait and see this out. I told her to bring it, but that I didn't know how I felt.

Shortly before she got here I had an epiphany of sorts. I realised that I was making the same moment in my life that I did not want to define me, my 'hill to die on'. It was going to prove to me and all who knew me that God/nature/my body works – but NOT define me? Hmmm I had to think this one out. I KNOW my body was working to release the baby, and I KNOW that it was designed to do so when something happened to a pregnancy. Who was I proving this to, and why? The fact is I was proving it to the doubters. The people who were sure that without a D&C (but don't forget that at this stage that is a D&E) that I would suffer from infection and haemorrhage and die were the ones I was determined to wait for. *I* didn't want it to define me. So it came down to am I A) going to do this a certain way for them or B) MY way (cue Frank Sinatra). The fact is that I believe in organic and natural food, but I don't always buy it because of various choices made week to week in the grocery store. I believe in natural medicine, but choose to compliment it with Western medicine at times for different reason's. If this moment in my life was going to be like anything else I was going to make choices like in all those times for what I and my family needed. People would just have to learn to trust God and their body's themselves. This was my journey, and no one else's.

My second friend arrived, we visited some friends, came home and I took a small amount of the stuff she brought in the hopes that it would be the nudge I needed. Whether it was that or whether it was the knowledge that I had done this myself and for myself in a way that honoured my beliefs it began to work RIGHT away. 7 hours later I birthed my baby girl in one piece in the caul. Everything about that birth was perfect for what it was.

After the birth I took my time – I listened to my body and myself in terms of how to move, when to move, when to look at the baby I delivered. I cried oceans in the 19 days leading up to this, but on that day – not a tear. I was ready. I could look at my daughter as a marvel instead of a loss and a hole in my heart. In the moments after the birth I marvelled at HOW okay I was. My friends and I wondered if women who are rushed through the process to end it quickly, if they miss out on that? I think back to Hannah's birth as amazing, wonderful, a release. There is no sadness, no regret. I had who I needed with me and was in my space. I can't think of how I would change it given the limitation of the circumstances.

When I think back to Hannah's life – that is where the sadness is – that I didn't see her take a breath, nurse her, raise her. That is sad. But that is the way it was meant to be for reasons that I can't fathom. I LOVE that amid that sadness – that heaviness of heart – that I can look back on her birth and smile. It was perfect. What a difference 19 days made.

#92. 19 Days

To My Dear Child… February 13, 2012

Posted by dreamom in Faith, family, Fears, Home, Life, Parenting, Pregnancy Loss.
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I never thought I would have to say goodbye to you before I met you, but here we are. You are gone to heaven, and I am carrying your body in me just waiting for this last part of you to leave me. You are gone and I have never seen your face, counted your toes, or kissed your fingers. I will never have that moment when you are fresh from the womb, dripping with amniotic fluid to see you squinting at me and feel your breathing on my chest. I will never feed you at my breast, as I have all your siblings. Those things feel really huge and sad right now, and I am trying to understand why you didn’t stay longer.

Part of me feels really guilty. Guilty for not cherishing the annoyances of pregnancy for the sheer fact that you were with me. I didn’t know that was all the time we had. If I did, I would like to think that I would have jumped for joy when I was throwing up. Grinned with sheer glee as my ligaments felt tight and sore. Smiled as my hips pained me with the sciatica. Danced with enthusiasm when I thought that the exhaustion was going to overtake me. I didn’t though. I complained, I scowled, I grumbled that the pregnancy was not easier – then poof. You were gone. Did I chase you off? I know in my heart that I didn’t – That your life on earth was meant to be a mere vapour – the purpose for which I can’t conceive.

I have struggled for the last week and a half with letting you go. Physically I have tried to induce your birth for the past week. Nothing is working. I COULD go to the hospital and force you out, but I can’t do that. You are holding onto me for a reason – or me to you. If I rush that I know that I will miss out. On what? Grief, sadness, anxiety, pain? Maybe. What I am afraid of though is that I will miss out on healing. I will miss out on that moment of accepting that this is the totality of our parent/child relationship. I conceived you, grew you for a mere moment (or so it feels), and now I have to let you go. Not for you though – When I let you go has no impact on you at all. You are HOME. You are with God. The only piece of you that my body is clinging to is not important to you anymore. For me – it is all I have. The empty shell of you. I never got to witness the person that was in the shell. I don’t know how to be okay with that until I meet you in heaven. I need to though.

I am hurt, and angry, and confused at how this has happened. I can’t hold onto that though. I need to be active and participate to wade Kyle through his impending adolescence. He needs my focus and energy, so I need to leave you in my past so that I can do that. Libby is such a nervous and anxious little waif, and she needs me to teach her bravery, and trust. I can’t do that if I am holding onto fears and doubts. She needs my time to teach her how to be a woman of God, and to develop her potential – I can’t do that if I am living in the past where I have you with me. Jordan is smart as a whip, but is having problems. Behind on his speech and I won’t even start into the potty training or the problem of beating on Micah every chance he gets. He needs me to focus on his weak areas and to help him overcome his difficulties – whatever they may be. Micah is starting everything. Talking, potty training, learning social skills. He needs me to teach him everything I know, and to nurse him down at night so that he slows down and rests. I can’t do that if I am so wrapped up in you and your brief stay with me that I can’t see or attend to their needs. We absolutely wanted you, and had room for you, but I need to accept that you are gone. That you DON’T need me. That is why I need to let you go. I don’t really know what that is going to involve yet, but the first step is to birth your body to this world. I need to let go of it.

It is scary to contemplate. I have managed in the last week to get myself to a point where I could eat and function again, but what about when I REALLY let you go? How much is that going to hurt? How am I going to be able to let you go? First your body, and then your lack of presence. How will I be able to let you go THAT much. Will I ever have a day where I don’t think about you, or try to find out what went wrong? Will I ever accept that you were never meant to breathe the same air as me, or suckle at my breast? Will I ever accept that I was never meant to nurture, raise, and hold you like I was the others? I hope so. I am told I will, but right now I can’t fathom that…

I love you, my child. Until we meet in heaven watch over us, wait for us, and know that we love you. We will always love you.

Love,

Mom

Stuck February 6, 2012

Posted by dreamom in Faith, family, Fears, Life, Pregnancy Loss.
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When I wrote the other day my emotions were still quite raw, and reading back it is all still true – even as some of the rawness is scabbing over.  That was a few days ago, but it feels like months.  Time is moving both fast and slow, and I am left in a weird state of awareness of where we are, compared to where we are going.  It is like in a movie when everything is a whirl moving fast around the character standing still.

This experience earned me membership to a special Facebook group.  It is one designed to let women connect and support each other as they have all experienced a pregnancy loss.  Quite frankly it isn’t a group I want to be in.  I want to be naive to this reality – but that is not possible.  This is permanently etched as part of my story.  Sometimes I retreat to that group, but other time I want to run from it, as I can get overwhelmed by the pain of the stories unfolding there.  It is okay though because they are all the same.  Vacilating between heartbreak, happiness and envy.  No matter what there is the steady support regardless of where you are.  It is refreshing despite the painful parts.

I have learned that as a victim of this tragedy I have a huge responsibility to others.  When people ask how I am chances are they want me to say “Ok”, not the truth.  This isn’t true of everyone, and some might not think that they expect this.  The fact is that if I tell you I am not fine and I have to pick up the pieces and console you from witnessing the pain I am experiencing – that I can’t tell you the truth, and I have a hard time lying about it as it seems to defile the enormity of finding your your child is dead.  If you want to hear about such an awkward situation ask the cashier of the dollar store where I was buying a stamp pad to make a foot print of our angel baby once it is born.  I can’t say “fine” and not mean it – I never know what is going to fall out instead.  Result?  One of the most terrifying phrases is “How are you?”.

Another responsibility I have is make the choices that everyone else would.  Maybe that choice is a D&C, or medical induction, or natural induction, or waiting for a natural miscarriage.  Whatever I choose (with the information I have been presented and chased down) I am doing the wrong thing.  Someone thinks I am being foolish in trying to avoid the inevitable, or I am going through unnecessary pain when it can all be over like ‘that’, or I am not utilizing everything available, and finally I am putting my life and health at risk unnecessarily (not true btw).  Whatever I choose is my choice, and my responsibility to carry out responsibly.  I might be the only one who sees it that way though, because I have to defend my choice to everyone.

I also have the responsibility to protect other people’s emotions.  As cut up and wrecked as I am about what happened, there are people who are more emotional about it than I am.  It isn’t that I don’t feel that gut wrenching pain – but I need to function – I need to work toward a place of accepting that.  I can’t do that when  I am dragged back over, and over again into the ocean of emotions that threaten to overtake me at any minute.  I am not ignoring them, avoiding them, or bottling them up.  I have to give them a space, and I need to keep it in its space.  PLEASE let me take the lead on expressing emotion – that is not to say you can’t ask, but hugging, crying, etc – let me lead – it is my tragedy.  Maybe this same event is a tragedy for you as well – as it is for our families.  It is not my job to help you deal with that – if you are with me – let me determine the level of emotion.

As far as I have come in the past few days I am still stuck.  I accept that the baby is gone.  I accept that there are limits to what I can do with the remains of my child as there is a chance that to the medical community it will be nothing more than expelled tissue, despite having all the features of a person.  I accept that how we treat the remains is NOT my choice.  I have learned that women can choose to terminate a pregnancy, but they cannot choose to have their lost child treated as a person.  I accept that I am going to experience physical pain, and have nothing to show for it other that a memorial somewhere, and a broken heart.  I accept that I will experience emotional anguish beyond that brought on by the tragedy itself as a result of my hormones adjusting from “pregnant” to “not pregnant”.  I accept that I have a husband and children to walk through the grief as I pave the path.  I accept the new fear that ‘you never know’ while still trying to trust.  I am ready for this next step.  Something isn’t.  I don’t know what, but as I type my child, who is no longer of this world, is nestled in my womb.  How do you mourn something you haven’t lost yet?  How do I dream of forcing the tiny body from mine when it is clear that it is still here for a reason.  Do I have to prepare physically? Mentally? What is it that is making it hang on so tight to a mama that can no longer meet it’s needs?

Through all of this I HAVE to trust in God.  He has a plan for me, and for my child – me on earth, and my child in heaven.  The truth is my child is already in heaven, and I missed  it.  I didn’t know.  I thought it was here to stay.  How naive to think I could foresee the plan…  So.  I trust, and I put one foot in front of another, and I dream of seeing my child’s body for the brief moments it will be in the span of a life.  I will never know my child this side of heaven.  I can’t fight letting go – it is gone already.  Oh my sweet babe.  Your mama loves you.  Will always love you.  I can’t wait to get to know you in heaven.  Can we both move to the next step now?

A Brave New World – Minus The Brave February 4, 2012

Posted by dreamom in family, Life, Pregnancy Loss.
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On Thursday I woke up with the same excitement and promise I had with all my other previous ultrasounds during the gestation of my four healthy children.  As I went through my morning I was nervously watching the clock to make sure I wasn’t late.  I had a bite to eat, and SHOOT!  Time was getting away from me! I grabbed my keys and purse and ran out the door.  A short fifteen minutes later I was tucking a towel into the top of my pants, and having gel spread on my slightly swollen pregnant belly.  There was nervous excitement as I chatted lightly with the tech doing the ultrasound.  I thought it odd that she was so sober, but thought maybe she is having a bad day.  She left to check the images, and as I laid – cold gel drying to a sticky film as I wait 10, 15, 20, 25 minutes.  She finally comes back in the room.  She needs a few more pictures, she says.  Beep, scroll scroll scroll – beep.  Right when I think that this is the part she turns the screen to me to show me pictures of my tiny bundle of joy she whips the towel off – starts wiping at the drying gel and says “I hate to so say this, but there is a problem, and you have to swing by the midwives office.  They are expecting you.”  I get up and I am confused.  What problem?  Can’t she show me ONE picture?  I am gathering my things to leave and she says “I am really, really sorry.”  On my way to the van I call Kevin and say I will be a bit late – I don’t know what is up, but the midwives need to see me.  What’s wrong?  I don’t know I say. Hopefully nothing.

I set off on the drive after shakily dialling a friends number.  I am confused and afraid to hope, and ashamed to assume, and she is angry that I am left to wonder and not know.  The rest is a blur.  I am ushered into a room as soon as I arrive.  People are averting their eyes.  I am seated in one of the  rooms and I hear “I am really, really sorry to have to tell you this, but it is clear in the ultrasound that your baby has died.”  I am looking into her eyes and my head is fuzzy.  I hear the words, but they aren’t making sense.  I am just staring back. She says in the most kind voice I have ever heard “Sarah.  Do you understand?  Are you okay?”  I nod.  “What does that mean?” I ask.  She pulls out the ultrasound report and shows me the words.  “There is a single fetus. No fetal movement is present. There is no cardiac activity. The anatomic structures are poorly visualized, consistent with fetal demise.”  She says “This means that the baby has died.  We don’t know when, but we know there was a heartbeat at your last appointment – so since then.”  I am numb.  I am frozen.  I am trying to make the words mean something they don’t.  I say “What happens now?”  I have options.  I can wait and birth the baby naturally at home.  I can induce labour and birth in the hospital.  I can have a D&E and have it be done quick.  Interventions carry risk.  The D&E would involve them dismembering the baby to get it out. Oh the choices!

I was planning to birth this baby at home from the get go.  Do I deserve any less because my baby has died?  Does my baby deserve less because they were not made to be in the world?  No.  I need to birth at home.  I spend almost two hours talking and crying, and talking and crying, and realizing that the ‘feeling’ I kept having that something wasn’t right – that kept being refuted by fundal heights and heartbeats WAS right.  I shook it off. But it was right.  This was wrong.  But this isn’t wrong.  I know that.  If my suspicion of an issue was found to be true I would have not done anything differently.  I would have given this baby a home in my womb for as long as it needed it.  For as long as God intended.  There is ONE thing I would have done different.  I would not have complained about nausea, or loose joints, or indigestion, or any of that.  I would would have cherished the moments more if I knew those were the only moments I was going to have.

As we talk the midwife makes calls to the OB to ask the questions I have, she works to track down a friend who works in a neighbouring clinic.  She hugs me.  She says she is sorry.  She says that this might be hard, and painful, and I can do this at my pace and do what I need.

Suddenly instead of using my body to nurture and protect my little one I am to start using it to protect me.  The conflict between what the day was supposed to be like vs what it turned into hasn’t sunk in.

The midwife says to call them anytime.  She says to let them know as soon as the labour starts because it will likely be quick.  She explains the pain is different than labour with a live birth and that I am likely going to need Tylenol and Advil to cope with it.  She says that I will come see them again, but that they will make sure it is a time when I can have privacy (AKA not run into ladies with babies and bellies with live babies in them).

As I leave the office she hugs me again, and offers condolences, and the whole time she looks me in the eyes.  I leave.  I call Kevin – I can’t go home.  The kids are getting supper and heading for bed – this is not the time to tell them this.  I decide to visit a friend who has lost babies before.  I drive.  For much of the evening I drive – I visit three different friends and talk to several others.  I pull into the driveway late.  I go and sit at the computer.  I tell a close knit group of friends all the details I have.  I make this dreadful post on Facebook.  “I went to my 18-20 week ultrasound expecting to post the picture of our baby. I came home with a document that says “There is a single fetus. No fetal movement is present. There is no cardiac activity. The anatomic structures are poorly visualized, consistent with fetal demise.” I now find myself waiting for the “expulsion of the products of conception”. I was 21 weeks.”

I never sleep that night.  My puffy salt stung eyes are sore and I would love to close them.  Instead I am glued to the computer.  Talking to friends, researching different aspects of miscarriages and still births.  Since my baby was alive on week 20, it is a still birth.  What does that mean?  I research and read and cry and pray and read the photocopied report again and again to make sure I am not dreaming – all the while hoping I am.

With the sunrise comes the job of telling the kids.  The baby we were discussing the gender of the other night at dinner – it is dead.  We are waiting for Mommy to birth it.  No – it won’t be alive.  No – it won’t get better.  Yes – it is with God.  Yes – God will look after the baby.  No – I don’t know when it will happen.  There are tears and sadness.  One goes to school in the face of his grief. He knows he can come home if he wants.  One can’t stop crying, and finally says she is sad about the baby AND a dead mouse she found near the barn.  I hold her while her sobs shake her little body.  I fight the tears so that I can comfort her – if they spill over I won’t be able to help her.  She finally goes to start her day feeling much more sober than when she awoke.  The other two neither know or care what happened.  I break.  I sob.  I stop because no one can cry all day.  I fight the tears.  I have a rest – after a night full awake I sleep for an hour or so.  I wake up to dreams of pain and anguish and a friend preparing our lunch and dinner, and the house ticking along.  I sob.  The world forgot to grieve with me.  I check Facebook and amidst everyone else’s lives continuing on, I take solace in the messages of sorrow in response to my post of early that morning.

I get a message to get a blood test.  The OB wants it to track different levels.  I go to the hospital.  After repeating why I am there 5 times I have lost my patience.  I have been waiting in the ER waiting room and I can’t sit, can’t stand I have to move but there is no room.  I finally convince them to do the blood draw so that I can go for a walk while the Dr finishes in the OR.

Again “Why are you here?”, “Why are they ordering this?” over and over again.  I don’t know.  I was told to go, so I went.  (Famous mistake, I know…)  The fiasco goes on and on, and ends with me sitting in front of the hospital, on the phone to the midwife, sobbing so hard she can barely understand my “I want to go home!”  She tells me to leave and says she will call and let them know I left.  By the time I get home I have cried oceans of fiery hot tears that sear their way down my face. I have eaten nothing – I can’t.  I have done a lot of thinking. I talk to Kevin who agrees.  We have a plan.  We know how we want to remember the baby, what to do with the body and what to name our angel baby.

I get home and it cuts like a knife to see other people’s lives carry on without having to plan for the birth of their dead child.  People post funny pictures and my heart cringes at the thought of laughing. There are projects to work on, but I can’t imagine anything else to think about than my baby – how long was it dead before someone else had to tell me it was gone?  How did I not miss it?  How could my child’s life END and I not know?  I shake it off and read through messages of condolences, and stories of people’s own losses.  I am comforted knowing that others know the pain I feel.

I talk to a friend in the funeral business and arrange for his family to handle the body of my angel.  The one I carry lifeless inside me.  His words and his wife’s tears quell the pain for a moment.  I know that I am cared about, and I know that they will care about the little scrap of a person I am going to entrust to them.  I don’t know what the body will look like.  I don’t know how developed it was, or if it was properly developed, or if it will start to break down in my womb and arrive lifeless this side of earth in pieces from it’s wait.

I have to keep moving, talking to people, and finding the little fragments of comfort and peace where I can.  I go to Facebook.  I look to my friends who are asking questions and telling me that they don’t know what to say.  I am comforted because I mattered enough to risk talking to me.  I accept the hugs and prayers, all the while offering up my own.

Suddenly, as hot tears trace now familiar paths down my face I feel the blood drain from my body and pool in my feet. I feel woozy, and start to shake.  Sobs shake out of my body.  A gut wrenching pain rips through my core, and I feel cold all over.  There in front of me is the still image of someone’s ultrasound picture.  The still body “No fetal movement is present.”, the still heart “There is no cardiac activity.”  It is the pregnancy announcement of a family member.  “It official!!” it screams, and it echos through my womb that is carrying my dead child.  I see family members who claimed sorrow on my post not 12 hours ago, rejoicing with exclamation marks that pierce my skin and twist in my flesh.  It feels like betrayal.  How could it not.  There is no evidence that these people notified this family member that she had missed something tragic, and that maybe keeping it subtle or delaying AT LEAST until my dead child is in my arms and not my womb would be a good idea.  No one messaged me to warn me.  The people that claimed to care showed no sign of it.  Reading the likes and the comments was one stab wound after another, and another, and another.  The comfort the words held hours earlier were ripped from me and the gaping wound was open more than it had ever been.

Here it is hours later and I am still reeling, still sobbing, still trying to make sense of how so many people thought it was okay,  and would be, and should be.  I haven’t even lost my baby yet.  That image is very much what you would see during an active ultrasound of my baby.  Still.  Motionless.  Lifeless.  I feel like Hannah who was taunted by Peninnah for her ability to bear a child.  In a couple weeks as she takes joy in the baby moving and growing in her womb, I will be getting the ashes of mine from the funeral home.  “Each time, Hannah would be reduced to tears and would not even eat.”  I was, and am, and can’t.  Or sleep.  I wait.  I wait to give birth to death.