Mommy's heart for Baby Jacob

Thursday, December 30, 2010

'Jacob's Star' -- how this story helped me deal with my pain

Well, I told you I'd get back to you a bit more about my writing.  If you read some of my recent posts, you've seen that writing Christmas stories to enter into contests was what distracted me from my blog writing.  But writing those stories to send to contest also did something more...writing helped me to deal with losing my precious baby.

I think I told you that I had gone to a 'write-in' to try to write a Christmas story.  I remember really struggling with this.  I had cried to my husband a few days before saying, "I can't wait to start writing again.  Then I can make the story end how I want...with a happy ending.  With a woman who doesn't lose her baby."  I feel so awful that I said this.  I know things happen to us for a reason, no matter how difficult it is to understand.  I guess that doesn't mean that we still won't think and say stupid things.  I guess in my pain I had to try to regain control over something.  From the moment I learned that our baby had a fatal diagnosis, through the 5 days of total uncertainty, to learning that he had died so quickly, I had lost all control.  I guess I never had any to begin with.  But when you write, you create the world, the characters and everything that happens to them--good or bad.  How can a woman who just lost a baby not want to regain some control? 

So I carried a lot of these thoughts with me when I sat down to write that night in my little spiral notebook. I also struggled with finding a happy ending.  When you think of Christmas stories, they typically all end happily--whether they are secular or religious.  Even if there is some sadness in the story, things wrap up on a joyful note.  I stared at my notebook that night.  How could I even come up with a happy ending when I had felt so gloomy for weeks?  I toyed with lots of ideas but nothing came to me.  Happy ending...happy ending...where was there a happy ending for me to write about??

That's when, as I wrote in my previous post, I just started describing myself putting up Christmas decorations.  I figured I had to start somewhere, so why not start writing about myself?  It's amazing how writing anything can lead you to where you were meant to go all along.  It was like I was offering myself a gift that I desperately needed--the gift of hope.  That was my 'happy ending'.  It wasn't specific but it was something to hold on to and that was enough.

The story I wrote that night was called, "Jacob's Star."  A week prior I heard those words in my head but I had no idea what to do with them.  I liked the idea of having my baby's name in the story and something about a star...later that week Sammy (my 5 year old) had asked about wishing on a star.  That was it.  My mind played with the two ideas, threw in heaps of my pain and fast-forwarded my D&C to right before Christmas.  I played with the idea of experiencing something so painful right during a time of joy and peace.  How would a woman...a mother get through the holiday having just lost her baby especially when she had two young children who needed to feel the joy of Christmas? 

Out of these ideas and questions came my story.  My main character found hope at the end of the story.  It's that hope that I've been trying to hold on to myself.  It's also this hope that I've hoped has touched readers in the two different states where different versions of my story were printed.  The comments I heard back from the judges just lifted me to a state of non-stop smiling.  I am still feel blown away every time I think about how my story won.  I am just so thankful.  Of all stories for me to write and submit, this story was the most important to me. 

Could it possible that writing this story wasn't just for me, but also perhaps for someone else out there wondering where their happy ending was?  I've been thinking a lot since winning the contests.  Could Jacob's death have been for more reasons than we'd ever know...even possibly to touch someone else in some way?  What if we are all so tightly linked in this world that everything that happens to us can be linked to someone else--to help them in some way, to motivate them, to lift them up when times are dreary.  Perhaps all we have to do is to look, to share, to help.  Perhaps that's what we're supposed to do.  I had so many women share with me on Facebook that they, too, had lost a baby.  I felt so comforted by this--I wasn't alone.  Others knew of my pain.

Writing "Jacob's Star" was right for me at this time in my life.  I have had so many different feelings building that I had to do something with.  Why not write them down and try to find something positive to move forward with?  And for me, the best news....why not share this story with others and let them find something positive too?  I've been so blessed with this story's printing as a first place winner.  I'll never know exactly how many people have read it (or will stumble on it online in the future).  I'll never know if or how it's touched people.  All I can do is to be thankful for the opportunity to share my grief with the world and to hope that it has reached someone out there.  I am truly thankful for how this story has been read by others.  If anyone has not read it (through my Facebook links) and would like to in the future, please let me know and I can post a link.

So, stars and hope.  It looks like I've been drawn to stars this year.  To me, the Christmas Star, the one that the wise men followed, represents the hope that God sent us so long ago.  I've always loved looking at the stars.  Now I have just one more reason to love looking up.  Maybe someday just as my character did in my story, I'll see "Jacob's Star" for real.  If not, just knowing my baby's up in Heaven means I have my very own star, "Momma's Little Star".  How I love my little star! 

To my Jacob, Merry Christmas Sweetheart!  Know that your short life here on earth has touched your momma and others in more ways than you will ever know.  Thank you for being my inspiration to write again.  Know that I can't wait for the day when I'll hold you in my arms.  I'll cover you with kisses and tears of joy.  Know that when I cry now, I cry tears that are lighter...full of hope and full of loving thoughts of you.

Wishing all of my friends hope as we enter into the new year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Another coincidence? Writing is my answer

Hi Friends!

Well, I said I'd get back to you about why I grew a bit delinquent with my blogging.  I do apologize once again for falling behind. I looked and found my last post to be Nov. 12.  I don't know if the blog posting times show up here but I do a lot of late-night writing.  Right around mid-November, my writing time switched from doing my blog to writing stories.

Let me explain.  I love writing Christmas stories.  For the last 10 years, I've been writing short stories at Christmas.  I've entered several of them into contests and am happy to say that I've either won or placed in many of them through the years.

It was about 3 weeks or so following my baby's death when I decided to go attend a 'write-in' sponsored by a local writing group.  It was an event to coincide with the National Novel Writing Month (where writers sign up to write a book in one month) and being new to my town, I hadn't yet found a writing group to join. 

I went to this writing event without any ideas, with only a spiral notebook and a pen and with no motivation whatsoever.  I wasn't even in the mood to go and had tons of work to do at home since it was right before Thanksgiving. 

I met a few people, took down group meeting dates and sat down in a silent room that only occasionally was filled with keys clicking as everyone was frantically working on their novels.  I stared at my notebook.  I knew that I had to start somewhere so just started writing garbage.  Literally.  I described myself putting up Christmas decorations.  Every tedious detail was written down and as my hand started to ache, I wondered where this stupid story was going.  I looked at the clock and felt like a student waiting for a dreaded class to end. 

After some pizza and a dew it finally seemed like my story had a flow and a direction.  And then, it hit.  One line and then another.  I felt tears coming as a smile pushed through on my face.  I looked around the room wanting to share my joy with someone.  I think every writer has some feeling when they know they've got "it" for a story or article.  Things just seem to 'click' and you know that you reached the point that you didn't even now you were looking for.

I remember coming home that night feeling so happy and so uplifted.  I was so energized! I felt 'high' on writing!  I'm serious!!  I was giddy almost.  I quickly revised the story (on the computer) and sent it out to a Christmas contest.  Well, I must have been 'on fire' because from about Nov. 20 - Dec. 10 I entered 7 different Christmas story contests.  I also landed a last-minute freelance job to write a story for another contest.  That's a lot of writing for someone squeezing it in usually in the midnight hour or later!

It was late, late, LATE one night when I was finishing writing/revising one of my stories.  I remember checking my email before I went to bed and said out loud to myself, "You are stupid.  You should be in bed, not writing your stories.  You have so many other things to be doing and yet here you are wasting time writing."  I was just chatting away with myself.  Who knows, maybe the dog was listening--but then probably not since everyone in the house was asleep except for me!  I felt guilty about not writing my blog.  I had so wanted to write my blog as I had feelings piling up but with a limited amount of 'free time' to write, I felt myself called during this Christmas season to write stories. 

Well, I pulled up an email during my self-chat and was dumbfounded to see the opening line.  It read, "Kim, Keep writing your stories."

I stopped.  I stared at the screen.  Huh???  How was it that within milliseconds of me asking those questions aloud I received an answer???  I wondered who sent the email.  The email came from a writing organization and was some sort of newsletter/update mail.  Obviously they plopped their subscriber names into the opening lines.  I don't think I've heard from these people in months and yet here was an email that rolled in at precisely the right time. 

So here it was at sometime in the middle of the night when I was disgusted with myself for 'fooling around' with my Christmas stories that I asked hard questions of myself and then found an answer.  You can interpret this however you choose, but for me I feel that it was just too coincidental.  The timing was as if I was having a  live conversation with someone and that someone was God.  I feel that God was nudging me.  I feel it was Him who said, "Keep writing Kim.  You have something to say and you need to say it.  Don't waste this opportunity."

Well, that's all the motivation I needed.  :) 

I'll update more about some of these stories and how my contest entries turned out in the next post.  For now,  know that while I'm disappointed that my writing time was detoured from my blog, I believe it went to a good cause and for a good reason.  Maybe I'll never know exactly why I'm called to write these things right now, but I believe I am.  It's helping me and I do so hope that it's helping someone else out there.

Thanks my friends.  I hope you keep your ears and eyes open for those nudges you might need!  And if you ever find yourself chatting with an email thinking you're crazy, you never know.  It just might talk back.


Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas and two months since losing Jacob

First let me apologize to anyone who may have been looking for my blog posts only to find stagnation.  I'm so sorry.  It was not my intent to let my blog lapse over the past month or so.  Please accept my apologies and know that I'm back writing again and will continue to write.

I'll catch you up on my journey here in the next few posts (including what preoccupied my blog writing time) but first let me wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!  I hope you've had a wonderful time with family and friends. 

Christmas is such a wonderful season of hope.  Despite all of the beauty and joy of the season, there are still those rough times that hit so many of us--family struggles, the stress of finding the right gift, trying to get it all done, etc.  We try hard to feel happy all December long but life is still there with it's problems no matter what holiday is here.  Even after the holidays, there's the returns, using vacation time wisely and tackling the weather and traffic return to work.  More stress and strife.

It is my hope for all of you that despite your struggles you've found something inspiring to carry you through this Christmas.  If you made it to a Christmas Eve service this year, or perhaps watched a movie or read a book that had a message of hope in it, you probably felt inspired....happy...at peace.  I know I did on Christmas Eve.  Our Pastor delivered a wonderful sermon.  I'm struggling to hold tight to the feelings I felt on Christmas Eve.  Isn't it so easy to slip back into the reality of our lives following all of the twinkling lights, the peaceful music and jolly hugs from family and friends?  I want to change my reality.

I think back to Christmas Eve and then Christmas Day and have just the best memories stored up in my heart.  My mom and I stayed up all night wrapping--literally.  Yet despite the lack of sleep, I know we both cherished every moment of Christmas.  Seeing my boys smiles light up the room, watching my 91-year old Grandma chuckle during our family's annual Santa hat photos, wondering how we'd dig ourselves out of the wrapping paper hurricane that filled my mom's house Christmas night...all of these things made the exhaustion worth it!  And that's what I'm working hard to keep fresh in my mind right now.

I'm trying so hard to hold on to hope.  It's a great test for me right now.  As you probably know, we're still trying to have another baby.  I find myself watching the calendar and hoping and praying that things will have worked this time.  I find that I hate it, if you want to know the truth.  I've always hated waiting and hoping for something to happen.  I like to just take joy in each day.  But when you're in a spot like me, it's challenging to know that things may just turn in the direction you want them to...and then again, maybe they won't.  So, you just sit and watch each day to see what will happen.

Christmas Day was the 2-month anniversary of losing Baby Jacob.  I found I was emotional at times but thankfully optimistic at others.  I also wondered a lot about my baby.  What he was doing, who he was with, was he watching us?  Was he watching his momma and feeling sad that she was in pain?  Did he hear his momma sing her favorite song, "The First Noel", during church?   Did he see my new "J" necklace that I wore, just for him?  What does he look like?  Oh how I wish I could see him!!  I have been thinking so much about him.  I would have been around 21 weeks.  And probably huge. :)  I would have been cherishing feeling every kick and nudge in my belly.

All I can do at this point is continue to hope and to pray.  My goal is to keep the feelings of Christmas with me close...every day.  I'll continue to play Christmas music if I have to.  I'll journal or jot down inspiring Bible verses, poems and notes.  Whatever I need to do, you can bet that I'll be doing it.  It's all I can do as I continue on this journey.  I'm just so fearful of my 'ticking clock'--that clock that we face as we get older and our chances for pregnancy start to diminish more and more with each passing year. 

My hope for all of you friends is that if you've been fighting your own struggles this holiday season, find something to lift you through it and hold it so close.  Christmas isn't just a day on our calendar.  It signifies the most wonderful Gift any of us could ever hope to receive.  Christmas should be celebrated every day, especially in our hearts.

I'll see you soon...with hope in my heart.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Out of the mouth of babes

Sammy came to me recently while I was doing dishes and said, "Mommy, I know what it means when someone is blue.  Widget has the 'bluey-blues' and she's blue because she's sad.  And her friends tried to do funny stuff to make her laugh but she was still sad."   Sammy, my 5-year old, loves 'Wow Wow Wubzy', a popular kids show on Nick Jr.

Knowing the episode he was talking about, I said, "Yes, poor Widget was sad.  It's kind of like when Mommy is sad about Baby Jacob.  It doesn't always work to do funny stuff when people are sad, sometimes we just have to take care of them."  Sammy said, "That's right.  That's why we do hearts.  Yup, it's all about love!" 

Sammy is my sweetheart.  He is so tender-hearted, so perceptive.  Our 'hearts' that he was referring to I mentioned in one of my earlier posts.  It's the shape of a heart with our fingers that we do for each other.  It could be at a completely random time, whenever he or I feel like sharing our love.  I was so happy when Benny picked it up too.  I made my last heart for Baby Jacob on October 26, the morning of my D&C.

I've thought a lot about Sammy and Benny over the last few weeks.  Some of you may be wondering how the boys are doing.  I thought I'd let you know.

When we first conceived, we didn't tell the boys right away.  I knew they were preoccupied with being kids and playing and simply enjoying life.  I had read that 9 months is a long time for a child to wait for a baby so thought we'd wait a bit before telling them.  I had just bought a new book about babies to read to them.  Finally, around week 7 or 8, we told them.  Sammy was so excited!  He wanted a baby sister AND a baby brother.  Alex & I had to laugh and say, "Well, we'll see honey." 

Benny was excited too.  He said in his almost 3-year old voice, "Oh boy-a! Oh boy-a!"  and clapped his hands just like you'd imagine him doing.  Both boys talked about it from time to time, especially if I reminded them not to jump or push on mommy's tummy.  Sammy would ask when he could see the baby.  He kept asking if he could see the doctor take the baby out of mommy's tummy. Well, I thought that was going to be interesting.  I had always just said that God puts the baby into a mommy's tummy when a mommy and a daddy love each other so much and want a baby to love.  And I said that a doctor takes the baby out.  I left it at that.  Since I'd had 2 c-sections and more than likely would have a third, I couldn't bring myself to try to explain that procedure to Sammy.  Not yet.

Whenever I felt sick or told Sammy & Benny I was taking a 'boo-boo pill' (actually my prenatal vitamin), Sammy was always concerned about the baby.  "If you have a boo-boo tummy, does that mean the baby has a boo-boo tummy too, Mommy?"  I always reassured him that our baby was fine.

On the day of my 12-week neucco-screen, the advanced ultrasound, Alex had taken the boys to lunch for the first part of my lengthy visit--the genetic counseling.  I was so grateful that they got back just in time for my ultrasound.  The boys were so excited to see the baby.  Benny's attention wasn't held as long as Sammy's but you could see he was happy.  Sammy wanted to know everything that he was seeing and why.  Their chatter was so gay during that time when I got a foreboding sense that something was wrong.

After the doctor confirmed the news, that our precious baby had an 80% chance of not making it to term, I broke down.  I shook.  I couldn't have stopped crying if you would have paid me to. 

I felt that we had to make a decision right then and there.  Benny came up to me and put his hand on my arm.  I was still on the table.  "You crying, Mama?"  Sammy noticed then too.  I decided to tell the boys the truth.  I said, "Mommy's crying because the baby is really sick, honey."

Sammy, ever learning to say the right things, said, "It'll be okay, Mommy.  The baby will be okay."  Again, I made a decision and said, "No, honey.  No, he won't.  The baby is very sick."  I don't remember exactly what I said.  I didn't use the word 'die', I think I just kept saying, "No, he won't get better."  I know I said, "The baby is going home to Heaven to live with God."

The look on Sammy's face as well as the sweetness of his voice when he said, "Oh," was heartbreaking.  I hated having to tell him the truth.  Don't we all sometimes just wish that we could keep our children innocent and safe and happy forever?  That they would never see the pain and hurting in the world?  I just felt that with all of the emotion that would surely be surging out of us, he'd have to know the truth.  I hoped that telling he and Benny might also help us to talk about it and hopefully understand it?  I don't know.

My poor boys.  They really did their best to understand.  When we went home that Saturday to celebrate my mom's birthday, Sammy told my mom about the baby going home to Heaven.  My mom had quietly said, "Yes, he will go live with God."  Every moment hearing that was so difficult for me. 

And then came that Monday, October 25.  Alex had the boys playing with fall leaves in the yard behind our doctor's office.  I was in the ultrasound room alone.  My baby's heart had stopped.  I waited at the car in the parking lot for Alex and the boys.  As I spit out the news to Alex, Sammy heard part of it and through a hazed tear-filled vision, I told him, "The baby went bye-bye night night.  He went home to live in Heaven.  That's why Mommy's sad."

The morning of my D&C, October 26, we didn't tell the boys what was happening.  We just told them they were going to play at a lady's house.  I did ask the boys to pose with me for a picture in our kitchen.  Sammy said they were giving the baby one final hug.  This picture is posted on my blog.  Boy boys held their hands on my stomach.  It was another heart-wrenching moment as I knew this would be the only picture of my three boys together...all of the dreams and hopes were gone.  All of Sammy's talk of the new baby and playing with him were gone.  It was all gone.

Since then, the boys still bring it up from time to time.  I'm glad.  I think they understand.  When we went to my mom's last week while my husband was out of town, Sammy made sure to tell my mom all about Baby Jacob going bye bye night night and living in Heaven now.  He said that within 20 minutes of our arrival.  Benny says occasionally, "Baby Jacob go bye bye." 

One time Sammy and I talked about Baby Jacob in Heaven.  I wrote this before, but in case you missed it, I asked him, "What do you think Baby Jacob is doing?"  Sammy said, "Um, I think he's playing!"  I replied, "Oh, I bet he is!  I bet he's laughing right now!"  Sammy said, "I hear him Mommy!"  I'd like to think that maybe he did hear him.  It was just so sweet of him to say that to me.  It was such a happy moment for both of us. 

And then another time I asked Sammy, "What song do you think the angels are singing to Baby Jacob?"  Sammy said, "The one about Baby Jesus."  I always sing 'Away in the Manger' to the boys and they love it.  I would like to think that Baby Jacob loves listening to it too. 

We were in Wal-mart the other day and browsed the Christmas section.  The boys love Christmas as do my husband and I so we're the ones you see shopping those aisles before Thanksgiving.  I was feeling sad listening to the Christmas music playing and wondering about what next Christmas would have been like with my baby.  I started crying. Sammy saw me and asked why I looked 'a little sad'.  I said, "Mommy is thinking of Baby Jacob.  I miss him.  I want to do a Christmas tree for him."  Sammy seemed to get tears in his eyes too.  He hugged me tightly and said, "I want to do a tree for Baby Jacob." 

It's truly amazed me at how strong and how loving my Sammy is.  He is my firstborn.  I joke that he & I went through so much together that we're connected in a very special way. I had an emergency c-section and both he & I could have died, it was apparently that serious.  Sammy 'turned colicky' at age 10 days.  This lasted for MONTHS!  One day I clocked his crying at 17 hours straight, I kid you not.  Alex wore headphones on some of the really bad days.  I cried.  It was a really rough beginning.  One night after taking Sammy to the hospital thinking something had to be wrong with him, the ER people laughed at us, something about being 'new parents.'  Sammy had difficulty nursing.  I had sore nipples constantly.  Sorry if that was a little too graphic but it was the truth.  I didn't give up on us though.  Nursing won.  We won.  We are a mommy and a son, forever connected by love as am I with Benny and Jacob.

Sammy also asks when there will be a new baby in mommy's tummy.  I tell him hopefully soon.  That we have to pray to God about that.  We prayed just the other day for a new baby.  I hope that one day soon, I'll be able to tell him that God answered our prayer with another baby.  I'll be a nervous wreck throughout the pregnancy but I know my boys will be there for Mommy.  They'll keep me strong, smiling and enjoying every step of my journey.

Enjoy your journey, my friends.  Keep your ears open for a child's wisdom.  Even the simplest of their thoughts can touch you in ways you never thought possible.  Remember what Sammy said, "Yup, it's all about love!"  That pretty much sums it up for me. 


The Funeral Home--just a bad day overall

Saturday morning, November 6, 2010

Mom, the boys & I took Winnie to the funeral home for cremation.  I know that may sound odd to some of you.  That's okay, at first it sounded bizarre to me too. 

Several years ago, we learned of pet cremation from some wonderful friends of ours when we lived in Oklahoma.  At first I wasn't sure what to make of it.  Who cremates their pets?  Well, it turns out a lot of people do.  Pet crematories and even cemeteries are nationwide. 

As a kid, I have no idea what happened to our beloved pets.  I probably don't want to know.  My mom & step-dad bury their deceased pets as they live on a 2-3 acre 'hobby farm'.  I buried two 17 year old cats that belonged to a friend of mine who passed away years ago.  His cats were his companions and I called him my "Texas Grandpa."  His senior feline friends died two days after he did. 

As my husband & I have been moving around so much in the last few years, we wondered what we would do with our pets upon losing them.  There was no question with Winnie.  My mom offered a spot on her property where we could place her.  I said, no.  She would be cremated. 

We pulled up to the funeral home on that chilly morning.   A pretty dusting of snow sat on all of the trees and lightly on the grass.  I was shocked to realize that we were at a regular old funeral home--one that deals with people.  Why did it have to be a regular funeral home?  It just so happened that they also dealt with pets.  I cannot describe how difficult walking into this place was for me.  How many funeral homes would I be visiting anyway?  Memories of going to Baby's Jacob's funeral home pummeled me.  I looked into the dark rooms while I waited for the owner.  It was so quiet.  The darkened rooms just look like they are waiting for sorrow.  Chairs placed casually around.  Flower stands are lined up near the front.  And of course, the table or whatever it is that holds the casket sits empty.  Boxes of tissue on tables.  Silence.  Silence that at any time could be filled with sobs and hushed whispers as loved ones grieve. 

I was glad that our paperwork was quick, I felt anxious.  The floral and other smells were starting to get to me and I felt as if my tears were unleashed once I told the woman of losing my son a week earlier.  The woman told me where to bring Winnie.  We had to go to a back entrance.  I felt sick.  This was probably where bodies were brought.  I didn't want to go to that room.

My boys wanted to say goodbye to Winnie one more time so we held her bag up to the window so they could wave at her.  Mom carried her in and laid her on a table.  There was a gurney in the room.  The woman locked a big walk-in cooler.  It kind of looked like a big open storage room.

My son had been in a place like this   Jumbled grief and agony started giving me a headache.  Baby Jacob.  Winnie. 

I made my final farewells to Winnie.  I stroked her soft ears for as long as I could before leaving her.  My sweet old girl...I truly hoped there was a 'doggie Heaven' somewhere.  Maybe she'd be kissing and playing with my baby.  Maybe.  I really wanted to hope for that.  I know there's a lot of views about this.  Does anyone believe that God made a place for our pets...those little creatures that He gave us, so full of unconditional love?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

The woman hugged me with tears in her eyes too.  Upon learning of my son and she had called my whole situation, "A pretty big kick in the butt."  A 'kick in the butt'.  Yup, that's a great way of putting it.  I almost laughed.  Winnie died 10 days after I lost my son.  There's just not words to describe the pain that I felt.

Part of me cried for Winnie.  My sweet girl.  Guilt hit me.  Maybe I should have taken her to the vet when I saw her breathing hard the night before.  What if I could have saved her?  You know how we frequently second guess ourselves?  I think that's a natural part of dealing with loss.  We look for ways that we might have done things differently. 

I mentioned losing my 'Texas Grandpa' several years ago.  I met him through the Meals on Wheels Program and I was his 'Care Caller'.  I called him daily as he didn't have any family or friends really to check on him.  We grew to be great friends over the next year and a half.  Several of our calls were an hour long!  He would chat about his past, about his writing, stamp-collecting or about his cats--they were his family.  We even took him to dinner on a regular basis.

When I found him that hot July morning several years ago, I slid into a guilt-ridden period of grief.  What if I could have been there?  Could I have saved him somehow?  It finally took talking to his doctor to realize that even if someone had lived with him and noticed when he went down, he would have only had seconds to be helped.  As the doctor put it, he was more than likely gone before he hit the floor.

As much as we try to listen when others console us with words like this, it's still often an emotional nightmare.  On the 30 minute ride back up to my mom's the boys and mom sang the name song ("Sammy!  Bananarama Bo Bammy, Fee Fi Fo Fammy...Sammy!") and I was grateful for how she distracted them.  Amidst a smile here and there as I listened to my Sammy & Benny's laughter, I thought of my Baby Jacob.  I wondered if he felt any pain when he died?  I thought back to our 12 week neucco screen ultrasound when I saw his mouth opening and closing.  I loved watching his movements.  I wish that ultrasound could have been recorded for me. 

I read that babies are practicing breathing for when their lungs fully develop.  Would Jacob have gasped for air in his final moments in my womb?  I knew that I'd have to ask my doctor how he died.  It was something I had to know.  The guilt still pummeled me.  Even though women of any age can have babies withTrisomy 13, it is more common for older women.  Me.  My age could have hurt my poor baby.  No woman wants to think that anything she did or didn't do could have harmed her baby. 

The rest of Saturday was a full of headaches.  I finally broke down, called a pharmacist and asked what kind of sinus medicine I should take since I figured out that my headaches were largely sinus related.  Do you know that it has been over 6 years since I'd taken sinus medication?  Seriously.  Because I was either pregnant or nursing, I suffered through colds, sinus problems, allergies, you name it.  You can't take those types of medications when you're pregnant or nursing.  It was almost comical that night as I kept reading the medication box over and over.  I think it's a good thing that I found humor in laughing at myself.  It helped to chase the day's storm cloud away.

The boys love a Winne the Pooh episode where Tigger insults a cloud and the cloud follows him everywhere.  It finds him when he's sleeping.  It hovers over him soaking him with rain and grey shadows.  That's how I felt all day.  A big grey cloud was following me hour after hour.  I wished I could have solved my problem as easily as Tigger had--all he had to do was to apologize to the cloud!  At least my medication quandary helped to finally lighten my mood around midnight.

So,Saturday, November 6 was one of those 'heavy days'.  Unending tears, hunched shoulders and my head bent low.  I'm happy to say that things haven't been that rough since that day.  I've had up and down days and I'll keep you informed of the clouds and the moments when sunshine peaks through to warm my heart.

Keep a look out for the sunshine, it really is there even if it's just a little ray.  One little ray can sometimes brighten a whole room.

I welcome your comments and am so grateful for all of you who read this.  I've heard from several of you through the last few weeks through Facebook.  I had no idea that my words could touch anyone or even possibly someday help someone, although it's been my hope since I started writing.  I knew that I needed to do this for me, but was truly hoping that I could reach someone else.  Thank you for your wonderful words of encouragement.  They have helped me get through these dark times.

Until next time my friends,

Friday, November 5, 2010

When Life Throws a lot of Loss at You


There were originally lots of other things that I was going to write about today.  Funny how one short moment can change all of that.

The boys and I have been up here visiting my mom and family since Monday.  It's been a pretty good week so far.  Ups and downs, tears and laughter...just an overall good time to be home while my husband's out of town.

We had returned from Polkas today--my Grandma loves listening to Polka music.  Every Friday she and my Mom go to a place which plays polka music from 2-4.  Grandma loves it.  Well, it turns out that my boys love it too.

We all went today, including my step-dad and aunt!  I enjoyed it for the most part, felt a dark cloud pass over me off and on.  It was just 2-3 weeks ago when I had told some of the ladies there that I was expecting.  They were so excited.  I kept imagining what next year would be like with a new polka fan to bring to the club.  My mom told them last week of our loss.  No one said anything about it today. 

From time to time it was difficult listening to the music that just a few weeks ago I listened to with my baby still in my tummy.  Thankfully, watching the boys clap along helped to chase away the blues.

We picked up pizza on the way home.  Dinner was enjoyable with happy chatter spreading across the table.  Afterwards, my mom & Benny went downstairs to get my dog Winnie from her cage in the basement.  She was in the cage while we were gone.  My mom walked into the kitchen and I knew something was wrong.  I guess it doesn't take me long anymore, I feel like I'm so on edge.  I blurted out, "Oh no, Winnie's dead, isn't she!"  Mom said yes, that she must have died in her sleep.  I asked if she was sure.  She said yes and that she just told Benny Winnie was sleeping.

More tears.  I know a dog can't compare to a lost child, but Winnie was my girl.  She would have turned 15 years in February.  She was with me from about 3 mos old on.  I got her 6 mos after I got my first dog when I moved to Texas to go to graduate school back in '95.  They were my family since I had moved to a state where I knew no one.

Winnie's been with me through every move, through getting married, through having kids.   She's flown across the country on planes and ridden across the states in our van.  She never complained.  She was a stout, red, goofy dog with her tongue hanging out of her mouth half the time.  She growled if another dog came too close to her space but never picked fights.  She was easy-going and happy to lay around wherever she found room.

She was healthy too.  A couple of years ago we spent an insane amount of money on her--she had some sort of cancer so she had the whole kit-and-caboodle taken out. She's never had any other health problems. 

Last night when we gave the boys baths, I noticed Winnie up on my Grandma's couch.  I was shocked.  Winnie is too chunky to get on couches and hasn't done that since she was a pup.  She seemed to be breathing hard, yet wore her same old goofy smile on her face.  I didn't think much of it, just that she was getting old and that it was probably hard on her to jump up like that.

Do you ever wonder why so much seems to get thrown at us all at once?  My baby died a week and a half ago.  My dog died today.  I found out on Tuesday that my brother and his wife lost one of their twins.  They found out during almost the same ultrasound that I had when I learned of my baby's condition.  So much loss in one week.  I know, dogs don't compare to babies, but they are still a loss all the same.  They are still family.

When my brother told me of his loss, I felt my heart breaking all over again.  I had felt apprehensive about their appointment.  I kept praying that all would be well.  Apparently, their baby passed about 4 weeks ago, around week 8 or so.  We are all thankful that since it happened so early, it shouldn't impact the remaining baby which is doing really well.  I know they are still feeling pain though.  I'm keeping them in my prayers.  Three little babies down to two and now down to one.  I remember how excited my step-dad was so excited about next Christmas and having three little babies around.  Wow, how fast things can change.  I remember when my mom gave him my brother's news he said, "What's going on?"  Mom simply said, "Life."

Life.  That's what it is.  For all of the good and the bad within it, it's life. 

And then today losing my sweet old dog.  I have to say goodbye to her in a little bit before my mom takes her outside for the night.  It's going to be hard.  Any loss right now is hitting me really hard.  I told my mom that I'd be leaving on Monday for home with yet another empty space in my life--Winnie's cage will be empty.  It will be hard.  Her cage in our basement will sit empty.  We'll pick our younger Maddie dog up from the kennel on Tuesday.  I know she'll look for Winnie.  They were buddies with Maddie always licking Winnie's eyes and ears.  Mary, my other senior dog, won't have Winnie to snarl at when they go outside.  Mary's always been 'alpha dog' and Winnie knew and respected that.  No more Winnie for Mary to put into place.

A friend and I were discussing my baby's condition soon after I found out.  My friend had a miscarriage 6 weeks or so prior to my news.  I had really felt her pain and was grateful that I could talk with her.  I remember her asking me, "I wonder what we're supposed to learn from this?  I think we're supposed to learn something, I don't know...maybe it's to truly embrace life."  I've thought a lot about her question since our chat.  I know there are just some things that we'll never understand.  Why little children suffer and die, why some people are taken from us way too soon, why bad things happen to good people.  We try to justify things.  We try to pray.  We listen to others' kind words.  We try to make sense of loss in our heads.  While it may make some sense in our heads, I don't think it ever makes full sense in our hearts.

And when multiple losses hit you in one time, that's pretty difficult to make any sense out of.  The similarities between my brother and I were numerous.  Our babies were due almost at the exact same time.  He had told my parents on a Sunday and me on a Monday.  I told my dad that same Monday as well as my brother about our good news.  I received his 'announcement' in the mail on Tuesday.  We all laughed at the number of secrets we had kept from each other!  Then, we both made our happy news public (i.e. on Facebook) that Friday.  Just two short weeks later, I found out about my baby's  condition through our neucco-screen.  For me that was week 12.  My sister-in-law and brother learned of losing one of their twins on the exact same week--week 12.  Very strange coincidences but they have allowed us to not only share the happy but also the sad and confusing.

Winnie.  Well, what do you say about that timing?  I could sit here and whine and say, "God, why me?  How much more can you throw at me??"  I'd like to say that but I can't.  I can admit that it's hard to feel optimistic.  Where is that glass that's half-full?  It's just hard right now.  I feel even more emptiness now without Winnie.  So much change in just two weeks.  Pregnant to not pregnant.  My brother expecting twins to now just one.  Three dogs down to two. 

I don't know if I'll be able to make sense out of this any time soon. My pain over losing Baby Jacob is very raw and intense still right now.  If anything, I'm very open to thinking about loss.  To thinking about the many things we should try to learn from it--be it a sweet little baby or a sweet old dog.  We all know we should celebrate life.  No one would question that.   Enjoy every moment with our loved ones.  How true this is and it's ringing loud and clear to me right now, so loud that it's almost blaring. 

As the temps start to fall and we look for blankets to keep us warm while watching a movie on the couch or reading a book, ask your loved one to sit and snuggle with you for a bit.  Hold your baby, your child...put your arm around your mate.  And of course, don't forget to cuddle with your furry friend--I've always believed that they were also gifts from God.  They always seem to understand our feelings and don't ask for much in return.  Such a great example of unconditional love. 

With loving thoughts of all that I've lost in the last week--my precious Baby Jacob, my sweet little niece/nephew and my loyal Winnie.

Stay warm and loved my friends.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Finally holding my son

Monday, November 1, 2010

Wow.  Another really tough day.  It's been one week since our sweet baby has left us.  I can't believe it was just a few short days before that when we found out the horrible news.  I'll never be able to say time stood still, it went so fast.  Too fast.  Way too fast.

I felt short-tempered this morning.  Cranky.  Edgy.  I was trying to finish packing and it was going slow as usual.  Alex was going out of town for the week and asked if we'd like to go to my mom's.  I thought it was a good idea.  I didn't like him leaving, but knew he had to so was grateful that we had the opportunity to go to my mom's.  I'm still not supposed to lift Benny so I knew Mom would be able to help with that, when needed. I also knew that the boys would love being there with her, my step dad and my grandma.  They love it there.  And of course, I knew Mom & I could talk and cry whenever we needed to.

I pushed through the drudgery of packing.  Finding the boys' socks.  Chucking them in the suitcase, I decided I'd match them later.  Their Pillow pets--can't forget those.  Their 'cuddly guys' --for Benny that meant Bob the Builder and Elmo.  For Sammy that meant his sockadiles, snake, bear-bears, oh the list went on and on.  Sippy cups.  Cars.  More cars.  My baby stuff to show mom.  Coats. 

I wonder if life sometimes has a way of lining things up.  I was already in a teary state today and found more things to keep bringing on the emotion.  I got the mail and found 4 beautiful sympathy cards sent from family and friends.  Each one made me cry.  I was so touched by how much people care about us in this time of need.  The In the Company of Angels book we had just ordered last Wednesday was here too.  Every page was so beautiful.  I can't wait to fill it out, despite knowing how sad it will be to do so.

And then, the time came.  I had gotten out of the shower and barely gotten dressed when I heard Alex get home.  I slowly walked to the dining room where he was greeting the boys, taking off his coat and petting tail-wagging dogs at his feet.  I stood in the doorway.  He and I didn't even have to say anything.  He reached into his green bag and pulled out a small item and brought it over to me.

It was our son.  Alex handed me our son.  The remains of our precious Baby Jacob were in a small cream ceramic box with the letters, "B", "A", "B" and "Y" on each side in pastel colors.  When we thought we were picking him up on Friday at the funeral home and found out we weren't, we changed our urn request.  They had offered the baby blue square before knowing of Jacob's small size.  I picked this little box from the few they had to offer.  I knew it would be just the right size to hold my precious treasure.

We had both been nervous anticipating dealing with the funeral home today.  They communicated terribly.  They never expressed condolences.  It was all business and poor business at that.  We feared they wouldn't have our baby ready today but there he was.  Alex said the man he dealt today with was very sympathetic and even asked how I was doing. 

I sobbed so hard while I held my Jacob.  This wasn't how it was supposed to be.  I was supposed to be holding a sweet little newborn baby in the spring, not the tiny remains of my son's short life in the fall.  I sobbed again as I asked Alex, "Is he in there?  He really is?"  We both cried as I held my son so tightly.  Alex's eyes looked a bit swollen.  I shook the box and heard faint little 'clinks'.  At least that's the closest sound I can describe it as.  My son.

As awful as a time as this was, it was also a brought a bit of peace to me.  Even though these were just my son's earthly remains, they were him nonetheless.

For those of you who may find the following offensive or too 'graphic', I apologize.  I feel as though I have to describe the rest of what Alex handed me.  I looked over a small certificate which stated that the crematory had cremated the remains of our son.  His name was typed clearly in caps on the envelope.  I looked over the form.  One line said, "Remains identified by:"  and then the word, "Ankle", was checked. 

I almost felt sick at reading this.  Had they really managed to salvage one of my tiny baby's feet during the surgery?  Had they really kept it whole and then labeled it with our name?  As sick as I was to read this, it made me cry with tears of joy.  My son existed.  He wasn't just some 'tissue in a jar' as our doctor had said in haste at one point.  He was a human being.  A tiny little baby with tiny little feet and hands--those very feet and hands I had seen moving just a week and a half ago. 

I thought back to my decision to not wait out the full miscarriage--if that's what you call it at this point.  I just wished I could have seen my baby and held him.  I could have tried to wait for things to happen on their own.  Who knows if my body would have recognized Jacob's passing.  I know things could have gotten more dangerous for me since I was so far along.  Having two prior c-sections would mean that I couldn't necessarily try for a VBAC without risks associated with that.  But, maybe I could have seen him.  Maybe things would have been okay, I don't know.  All I have to remember him by are fuzzy ultrasound photos.  It's hard to say goodbye to those images of him even though the pain of having him naturally if it would have happened that way would have been unbearable too. 

My son is home.  His earthly remains are home with his mommy and daddy.  What's more important though is that he is Home with our Heavenly Father.  I try to remind myself of this daily.  I try to imagine him cooing as the angels sing to him.  I imagine him grabbing my grandpa's white beard while my grandpa laughs and holds him close.

It's brought a bit of closure to me, I guess, having this part of the journey come to it's end.  I know there's lots more to go yet.  I hope to have Alex & I have a small memorial for him--just the two of us sometime in the next few weeks.  I think it will do both he and I a lot of good.

My son is home.  May that bring you the same peace it's brought me--especially if you've lost a child.  I bet our precious babies are playing together in Heaven's nursery.  I smile at that and I hope you can too.


Laughter and "Normalcy"

Saturday, October 30 was Trick-or-Treating.  Part of me was grateful for the distraction and the 'busyness' of getting ready for that evening.  The other part of me felt weighted down by the sadness of missing my baby.  It hadn't even been a week since our baby had passed.  Because Sammy & Benny love Halloween so much, as does their daddy, I had to do my best to make the evening fun for all. 

I was treated to an unexpected surprise, complete with tears--this time happy tears.  I put my Princess costume on in the bathroom.  It was a floor-length purple dress with gold trim and lacing down the front.  It was a Medieval costume and a little too big for me, but the extra room gave my stomach the space it needed to still show. 

I remember I had asked Nancy, our nurse, on Tuesday about my stomach, "Will my stomach be back to a normal size after the surgery?"  She said, "Oh no, it will take a while to go back to it's normal shape."  I can't believe I had asked such a stupid question.  I knew better.  I replied, "Oh, that's right.  It takes awhile for your stomach to go back down--just like when you have a normal baby, right?"  A 'normal baby'.  More tears. 

So with my stomach still showing a bit, I smoothed out my Princess dress in front of the mirror.  I even curled my hair like the model on the packaging.  I placed the crown-like silky fabric on my head.  When I walked into the kitchen, both of my sons instantly came to hug me and gush all over me.  How could you not feel like a princess when two little boys look up at you and say, "You look so pretty Mommy!  You look like a Princess!" (from Sammy, age 5) and, "You pretty Mama, soft...you Princess Mama!," (from Benny, age almost 3) and the best, "I love you Mommy!" (back to Sammy) 

My little sweethearts.  At that point, I knew I had definitely made the right decision to get dressed up and to go make the rounds, despite my physical aches and my emotional state.  I seriously considered staying behind to pass out candy but Alex had pushed me to go.  He didn't want me to miss out.  We walked around the neighborhood for about an hour and a half.  Alex pulled the wagon carrying the boys and I pushed the stroller carrying cameras, coats and Sammy's Ironman.

About halfway through the trek, I was starting to feel the effect of the walk.  When the wagon lost a wheel pin and I had to put Benny in the stroller, the pain worsened.  We were about 20 minutes from home and going up a hill, I stopped and yelled for Alex to come back to push Benny.  I knew that I just couldn't attempt that last hill or I'd be in for a much more painful night.  My doctor had cleared me to go Trick-or-Treating as long as I didn't overdo it.  I felt like I was quickly getting to that level.

I watched for heavy bleeding the rest of the night but found none.  I was grateful that I didn't aggravate things.  It hurt to bend down and pick things up but that was it.  I figured that a good night of rest would allow everything to settle back down.

Emotionally, the night had it's ups and downs.  When the first few parents we saw on the road wished us a "Happy Halloween!", I had to quickly wipe the tears from my eyes.  When I saw a beautiful sunset touch a hill behind our house, I cried.  I found myself thinking back to my doctor appointment that Monday.  After discussing everything in great detail yet before discovering that our sweet baby had passed, my doctor shared a story with me about a woman who found out her baby also had a fatal diagnosis like mine.  She had decided to take her baby Trick-or-Treating and painted her belly for the night.  Because things had moved so fast for us, I didn't even have time for something like that.  My belly was empty.

It was an up and down night.  Tears mixed in with laughter. I laughed whenever Benny said, "Look me!  I Thomas!"  He said this to oh, probably every person he saw out that night.  He was so proud to be Thomas the Train.

Later that night, not knowing what to do with myself yet again and knowing I shouldn't do anything more physical for the night, I sat down to watch TV and found Pirates of the Caribbean 2 just starting.  Alex & I hadn't seen it and rarely watch movies together, so decided to see if it was any good.  I could not believe how much I laughed through that movie.  You know those movies or shows that are full of corny physical comedy?  Slapstick kind of stuff?  No matter how cheesy, it might be, we laugh anyway.  Must just be something about people--we'd like to say we don't find that stuff funny but I bet more of us chuckle at those behaviors than we'd like to admit. 

So Alex & I both laughed at Jack Sparrow's antics.  Sword-fighting on a spinning water wheel.  Trying to outrun creepy pirates.  I found myself laughing and laughing.  It almost felt good.  That was the first time I'd laughed in awhile.

I guess it did feel good but I was mad at myself.  As much as I enjoyed laughing and know that it's good for you, I can admit that I don't want to laugh.  Not yet.  To me, laughter is a sign of returning to normal.  But what is normal??  Normal should be putting maternity clothes on.  Normal should be counting the weeks--I'd be 14 weeks by now.  Normal would be still griping about feeling sick every day.  Normal would be crying at every little thing like pregnant women do--loving that I had the excuse that the pregnancy hormone gives you to cry at sappy animal commercials and Cinderella movie previews. 

Normal would be anxiously awaiting my baby's movements.  I couldn't wait to feel him kick!  I had been feeling little flutter type of things in my stomach at night when laying down.  I knew they were probably just gas but I liked to dream that perhaps it really was my baby that I felt.  I knew that in just a few more weeks I'd be feeling the real thing--kicks, punches, rolls.  I couldn't wait.  Normal.  That's how things were supposed to be. The 'normal' that I knew for 13 weeks.

But instead laughing means that I will soon be returning to normal--that is, the normal that was before my pregnancy.  It will mean returning to how my life was before--taking care of my family, unpacking boxes, getting ready for the holidays.  It's almost as if I never was pregnant.  It's difficult to explain how I feel about this and I hate that I even write something like that.  I know I was pregnant, my baby was alive.  He was alive for 13 beautiful weeks.  He even showed me his energy when he kicked to protest the ultrasound technician's prodding.  I loved watching him--every second of that ultrasound I had my eyes glued to the screen.

But the farther from Jacob's passing that I go, I feel like it's too easy to forget. I don't want to forget.  I don't ever want to forget.  The more that life sucks me back in, the farther from my baby I feel.  I have responsibilities--I'm a mom, a wife, a home-maker.  I know that.  I pay bills.  I unpack and figure out where to put everything.  It's again just so hard to know how to navigate the tug of war you feel -- you are pulled towards your loss and grieving and remembering your lost baby and then you're pulled back to 'reality'--dishes, dogs, diapers and more.  Where do you go? 

I'd like to think that maybe it's just a constant blend of where you are in the healing process. I think I need to research and read more about healing after a loss such as this.  Expecting a woman to simply 'suck it up' and bounce back is completely unfair.  For me, I guess I'll just laugh when I have to and cry when I want to.  I hope the laughter strengthens me for those really hard days when the tears just won't stop.  I hope the crying keeps me close to my lost son, my precious Baby Jacob.  That's all I can do at this point.  That, and of course, to keep praying that God will lead me through this darkness.  That maybe He's the one sprinkling my life with just enough 'laughable moments' to show me that it's okay to laugh between the tears. 

Thanks for staying with me on this journey, my friends.  It's still a difficult road and I think it will continue to be for quite some time. 


Friday, October 29, 2010

The First Few Days

Hi Friends,

I thought I'd let you know how the first few days have gone since my D&C on Tuesday.  It's barely been a week since we learned the devastating condition of Baby Jacob. It's hard to believe that such much has happened in a such a short time.

Day 1 - Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2010
This day was particularly difficult for me.  I hadn't slept well at all.  As soon as I sat up in bed and eased my legs carefully to the floor, I started crying.  I don't remember feeling anything, I just cried.  Somehow I knew that this wasn't a good way to start the day.  I stared at the floor for awhile before finally getting up.

I cried throughout the day.  Any thought could trigger a feeling of emptiness and overwhelming sadness at losing Baby Jacob. This was the first day I woke up alone--he was no longer in my tummy.   He was gone. 

I felt desolate all day and hated feeling that way.  The waves of sadness continued to pummel me.  I'm so glad that Alex was home. We had talked about it on Monday and he told his boss that he would be taking both days off.  It helped to have him take care of the boys and the dogs so I could be left alone when I needed to be. 

I also felt horribly drained that first day. I think the lack of sleep caught up with me.  The surgery, the anesthesia, the loss.  Being tired did not help my state of mind.  I noticed that I didn't even want to talk with anyone.   A wonderfully supportive friend from TX had sent me flowers.  They made me cry. I was so happy that she thought of me but just couldn't bring myself to call her to thank her personally. Talking was difficult--even to my mom.   I didn't want to talk, I think I just needed the day to feel bad.

Alex finally took the boys out for a quick errand and to pick up dinner around 4:00.  I tried to take a nap.  How does someone sleep after suffering such a loss?  I felt so cold in bed.  I had tons of blankets on and the dog stretched out along my legs.  Even her warmth could not take away the chill.  I was too cold to sleep.

Alex came home with the boys around 6:30.  We ate pizza and I finally felt more able to talk.  I discovered that a lot of what had been bothering me was the phone call I received from someone the night prior. I think I had been in too great of a state of shock for the hurt to truly sink in.  It did sink in and it hurt.  Everything cruel that this person said to me was draining me. I felt angry that my grief for my son was overshadowed by this person.

We decided to go to Walmart for some groceries.  I took my time walking around with the cart.  My doctor had told me to take things easy and to not do any heavy lifting.  Sammy was my helper.  He picked up what I needed and chunked everything into the cart.  We went by the baby section.  You might think this is strange but from what I'd read about dealing with the emotional pain of losing an infant, it was perfectly normal to shop for your lost child.  I only had bought one toy for the baby prior so I found an outfit that I thought he would have worn.  It helped to see something that I could imagine him in--3-dimensional--if that makes sense.  I also bought a small stuffed yellow and brown giraffe.  Since buying that giraffe, it hasn't left my side.  I have slept with it each night.  It helps to have something to hold.

I also bought new jammies for the boys--Sammy picked out Cars jammies for Benny and Sponge Bob jammies for him.  I'm not sure why I bought them now.  Guess it was just something I did.

Wednesday night was really hard. I found a website that sells a book called, In the Company of Angels.  It's a book to record your memories of your pregnancy and your infant's loss.  I'll post the link in the next day or so.  The website flips you through the book and plays a very emotional, very beautiful song along with it.  I sobbed so hard watching it that I could only watch it twice--once by myself and once with Alex.  My physical pain was worse after sobbing so hard. We ordered the book and plan to order the song as well.

Day 2 - Thursday, October 28, 2010
I was grateful that the second day out wasn't as hard as Wednesday.  I still felt a dark cloud hanging over me but I didn't find myself crying steadily throughout the day.  Oh, things would trigger it for sure but that was at least better than constant sobbing.  I wondered though if this was normal?  I find that I have two concerns right now.  Am I grieving in the 'right' way?  Is there a 'right' way?  Am I trying to get back to 'normal' too fast?  Should I be sitting and mourning my loss?  Should I be cooking dinner, laughing with my boys and putting away clothes? 

My second concern was that I'd forget my son.  I don't want to get back to normal so fast that I forget about my son.  I had read that women who lose a child want to make sure that their child is remembered.  That their child existed.  I felt so strongly about this and was glad to see that I was not alone.  Would getting back to normal make me forget my son?  Or make me forget about what had happened?

I know that recovering from grief takes time.  There are phases to go through--denial, shock, fear, rejection, etc.  All of these must be gone through before you can accept and 'move on.'  What if I rush through the phases just to get back to normalcy and then hit rock bottom later on because I didn't grieve the way I should?

Leave it to me to worry about stuff like this.  It just stinks, you know?  I would have been counting the weeks.  I would have been going about my business--getting the boys ready for Halloween, continuing to unpack boxes, paying bills, etc.  But not anymore.  I just had a death in the family.  A very close and personal death and it's difficult to figure out what state of mind you're supposed to be in from one day to the next.

I talked to my Pastor today.  That helped.  I found out that he had lost a child too.  His wife had a stillborn son at 26 weeks.  I heard the sorrow in this voice as he shared his painful memory.  I asked him if he thought Baby Jacob was for sure in Heaven.  I needed to hear it from my Pastor, I don't know why. He said, "Without a doubt, yes."  He talked about how my son was now perfect.  How God showed us mercy by taking him now.  How both of our children are there waiting for us.  I was so grateful for his time.

At one point I asked Sammy if he thought the Angels were singing to Baby Jacob.  He said yes.  I asked if Baby Jacob was crying or happy.  He said, "He's happy Mommy!  I can hear him laughing!"  When I asked what song the Angels were singing to him, Sammy said, "The one about Baby Jesus."  This is "Away in  a Manger" that I always sing to the boys.  I sing the non-traditional version because I think it's prettier.  They both love it.  Sammy went on to tell me, "Mommy, God will fix Baby Jacob, don't worry.  And he'll put another baby into your tummy."  I felt happy tears trickle down my cheeks as I smiled at my firstborn and said, "You're right Sammy, God has already fixed Baby Jacob.  He's up there with the Angels singing to him.  We'll have to pray that God puts another baby into Mommy's tummy."

The doorbell rang for the second time in two days.  Our landlord sent us flowers.  They, too, had lost a child years before and understood our loss.  Our house smells pretty.

We ran out to Hobby Lobby Thursday night.  I needed to buy light blue ribbon for our trees.  I will tie a bow around a tree in the front yard and one in the backyard.  I can't wait to do this for Baby Jacob.

We also stopped at Macy's.  While I wanted to take off my hospital bracelets because they were itchy, I couldn't take them off until I had something to replace them. I needed something to remember my baby by.  I plan to shop online for some baby memorial jewelry in the next few weeks but wanted something special to wear now.  I found a sterling silver bracelet with three charms on it.  One is an angel.  Another is a circle with three crosses on one side and the word, 'Strength', on the other.  The last charm is a heart with a cross on one side and the words, 'Believe, Joy, Love and Faith' on the other.  The bracelet, originally $80, was on sale for $31.  Alex thought the bracelet was perfect and so did I.

I went to bed fearing the future.  I so want to have another child.  What if we can't?  It would be one thing if we simply had to delay having a baby and had to just deal with this horrific loss first.  But I can't say that.  I can't say that we will for sure be able to have another baby.  That scares me so bad.  I feel jealous of other pregnant women.  I'm so happy for them, but jealous too.  Why did this happen to me?  Why am I no longer pregnant?

Day 3 - Friday, October 29, 2010
Another day like the day before.  Triggers would set off the tears.  I found a picture frame that I had bought for my mom for next Mother's Day.  It says, 'Grandkids', and has three spaces for photos.  It was really hard to look at that frame. 

I went out to tie Jacob's ribbon today.  The tree in the front yard that I picked has three large trunks.  Those symbolize Alex, Jacob and I.  I tied the ribbon onto the section with two branches--to me it symbolizes mama and baby--Baby Jacob was a part of me and always will be.  I cried as I smoothed out the bow.  I am so happy to have Jacob's tree for all to see.

I did a lot of physical work today getting things ready for our Halloween meal.  I started the tradition last year for the boys.  They love it.  I make 'Halloweenie' foods and make the table look fun with doo-dads for the boys to play with.  Benny got a Bob the Builder book and Sammy a Winnie the Pooh book.  It was hard proceeding with normal activities especially something that I had hoped to spend more time on.  I almost couldn't find the pumpkin napkins.   I had stuff tucked away somewhere but couldn't find it.  I did the best I could under the circumstances and was happy that the boys enjoyed our "Halloween Party" as much as they did.  Sammy even wanted to dance.  He said, "You put on music at a Halloween Party and you dance. Can we dance, Mommy?" 

I find that I ache a bit more today--physically that is.  The pain hasn't been too bad and the bleeding hasn't either.  I think I hurt more because I did more.  I'm grateful that the pain isn't worse though. 

So that's my first few days. I'm not sure how I compare with other women who've gone through this or even with other's experiencing loss.  What I know for sure is that all I can do at this point is to take one day at a time.  I know it's a cliche, but it's true.  I just have to keep going.  One day will lead me to another and another.  I know eventually the pain will lessen but I have no idea when.  That's all I can do at this point.  Just go through each day and see what happens next.

Thanks for staying with me on this journey.  I welcome your comments.  Until next time...


Tornadoes, Tears and my D&C, part 2

I was told we had to evacuate.  Nothing like coming out of the bathroom with your IV bag in hand to find this out.  They were moving all patients away from windows and outside walls.  I asked Alex to grab one of my bags--it was the bag with my baby's ultrasound photos in it.  My cell phone.  The boys' sock-a-dile.

I was quickly ushered across the hall to a very small triage-type of area near the nurses station.  Pink curtains were pulled around my bed for privacy.  It's a good thing I'm not claustrophobic because it was very narrow.

I was anxious.  Nurses were buzzing around getting patients situated.  They kept talking about the tornado sirens.  Have all patients been moved.  Then I heard the heavy doors close off our area from the hallway and outside rooms.  A security guard came through and asked if everything was 'all clear' or something like that.  A nurse responded, "Yes, our doors are closed and patients are moved."

My thoughts catapulted all over at this point.  I did know a storm was coming and that it was to peak around 1:00, the same time as my surgery.  I was glad a storm was coming.  I wanted the world to know my anguish--well, at least Dayton and surrounding areas.  Let the skies open up and let the tears fall.  Let the lightening strike and the winds blow.  Let the dark and gloom cover the land for just a bit.

While it seemed fitting that the storm was indeed peaking, I was terrified that a tornado would literally strike.  How often do hospitals evacuate patients?  Maybe it happens regularly, I don't know.  I found myself thinking, would we know before it hit us it if did?  Would we feel the force?  Would we truly be safe in this tornado shelter area four floors up?  My thoughts immediately jumped to my boys.  Benny hates rain and storms.  About 6 weeks ago we were at a festival outside when it started raining.  It rained sideways and Benny freaked out.  Ever since then, he's panicked even at the mention of rain.  I wondered how they were at Martha's house.  Was there a tornado in her neck of the woods?  She lived about 20 minutes from the hospital. I didn't have a TV in my 'room' but I could hear parts of a weather report from the nurses station. I strained to hear what they were saying. Was a tornado sited? I prayed that my boys were safe and that no harm came to them.  It killed me to know that they could be in danger without their mommy and daddy to comfort them.

My doctor came in to tell me things were on hold.  The operating room was an outside room so surgery would be delayed until things were back to normal.  I don't know if I was happy about this or not.  You want it to be delayed for as long as possible but then you also just want to get it over with.  It didn't help that I had to listen to another pregnant woman in labor.  There were 4 of us in the beds and I could hear her moaning.  I smiled thinking of her pain and how she would soon have something wonderful to show for all of that pain.  It hurt knowing that she would be leaving with a baby while I would not.

My doctor wheeled in the ultrasound equipment.  I had almost forgotten that we said we would do one final check to confirm that the baby's heartbeat had indeed stopped.  Normally I'm the one who likes to double and triple-check things.  When I had told Alex of the news Monday evening in the parking lot, he kept asking, "Are they sure?"  I never asked the doctor.  I was pretty sure they were but thought it would be good to check since he asked.  When I talked with her later that night, she said they would be happy to do one more ultrasound.

This was the moment where I held my breath.  Maybe things had been wrong.  Maybe they had the wrong angle yesterday.  Maybe there would be a miracle and my tiny baby would still be alive.  Alex leaned forward in his chair to stare at the screen.  No heartbeat.  The doctor apologized.  Alex and I held hands.  The doctor showed the blood flow with colors on the screen.  There was very little and none by the heart.  We talked about how Baby Jacob was lying.  He was all curled up on his side.   His feet were tucked up under his butt and hands were pulled close to his chest.  The doctor printed two more photos for me. 

I love when babies lay on their side.  The pose is just such one of innocence and sweetness as they find comfort in their sleeping.  I'm happy Jacob was in this pose.  He looked like he was taking a peaceful nap.  I wished I could have put a blanket on him.  Sammy and Benny always kick off their blankets and I'm up throughout the night covering them back up.  I would have covered Jacob up too.

The doctor left us alone for a bit and I talked to Alex about what would happen if I didn't make it.  He didn't was uncomfortable with that discussion.  The doctor said it was slim but always a possibility.  With what I'd been through lately how could I not face that fact?  Trisomy 13 is apparently the rarest chromosomal defect.  Since being at the new office, I was only the second case of Trisomy 13 that my doctor had seen in 5 years.  I don't know if I'll ever be able to look at words like "rare" and "slim" the same way again.  With all that had happened, I wanted to say two things to my husband.  One was that I loved him.  The other was that should anything happen to me, I wanted him to remarry so my boys could have a mommy.  That was all. 

I went to the bathroom again.  This time on my way back they said they were ready for me.  The tornado warning was over.  Again, things just happened so fast.  I hugged and kissed Alex and started crying as they walked me into the operating room.  I don't know how I feel about walking into a room like that.  It feels weird. I wonder if anyone has ever turned and bolted from the room?

I hate how those rooms look and feel.  Tall.  White.  Bright.  Cold.  Equipment and tools all over the place--many of which you shouldn't have to see. 

They had me get on the table and the nurse anesthetist brought me a second pillow.  She put a blood pressure cuff on my arm.  The clock on the wall showed it was 1:20.  My tears wouldn't stop, they ran freely right now but I didn't care to shut them off even if I could.  Two nurses came in and started attaching the stirrups to the table. I was told I wouldn't be placed in those until I was asleep.  It would have been nice not to have seen those big clunky black things either. 

My doctor came in and held my hand.  She introduced me to another doctor who would do the ultrasound for her.  I couldn't speak at this point.  Everyone looked the same.  Pairs of eyes floating in space.  The nurse put a mask over my mouth and told me to breathe deeply.  My doctor pulled it away saying it's too claustrophobic for most people.  She held it near my face.  I was grateful for her attention.  I had my left hand on my stomach and said goodbye to my baby.  I told my doctor, "I trust you," and she pulled my mask way so she could hear.  The nurse said she was putting medication into my IV.  I thought it might be an antibiotic, they weren't specific.  I watched the lights on the ceiling sway down and then up.

I heard myself crying and talking in the darkness. My eyes were still closed but I heard myself plainly asking the nurse questions.  Did she puncture the uterus?  Is my uterus still there?   Was there a lot of bleeding?  And then my eyes were open and I found myself in my room talking to Nancy, our original nurse.

She was telling me I had done beautifully.  Everything went perfect.  Uterus still intact.  The clock on the wall said it was 2:05.  It was done.  My baby was gone.  Why hadn't they let me sleep?  It would have been so much nicer to be in a state of nothingness rather than in a place of feeling.

For the most part, I just couldn't understand why I was crying.  It frustrated me. I think I woke up that way.  The nurse told Alex the anesthesia has an amnesiac affect.  He told me I sounded like Sam asking so many questions.  I don't know if I asked the same ones over and over or not.  I know I asked a lot, I had a right to know.  He said the nurse never flinched.  She continued to answer what I asked. 

Whenever you wake up from anesthesia, you feel strange.  For me it's the sudden loss of time.  One minute you're somewhere and the next you're somewhere else.   Surprisingly I didn't feel any pain. Nothing hurt.I was grateful for that. 

Nancy asked me to eat some crackers and pop to make sure I could keep them down.  Alex handed each Saltine to me.  The Sierra Mist felt good in my mouth.  I normally hate Saltines but I have to admit after not eating since the night before, even they tasted good.

We then had to make our funeral home selection. Alex called the one I had circled.  When he told me Jacob would be placed into a baby blue infant urn, it was almost unbearable.  I knew that moment was hard for both of us.

At one point I asked him, "Who do you think is holding Baby Jacob?"  A range of faces slid through my mind--both of us have lost grandparents.  A sweet old friend of ours from Texas.  My great aunt who died a month ago.  Then my Grandpa King's face popped up.  His twinkling blue eyes and white hair and beard.  His loving smile.  I told Alex, "I think Grandpa King is holding him."  Alex said, "I bet he is."

My doctor came in to reconfirm how well I had done and to say goodbye. She asked to see me in 2 weeks.  Nancy came in to discharge me around 5:00.  She reviewed everything I shouldn't do as well as what medications to take.  I asked her about the emotional healing.  Was there a certain point where I should start feeling better?  She said no, this would take a long time.  She listed several time where the pain could become more intense--being around other pregnant women, including my sister-in-law, my due date...she said to simply take my time to grieve.  We lost a child.  She reminded me that 13 weeks is a long time, "It's a third of your pregnancy," she said.  A third of my pregnancy.  All of weeks of sickness.  I had just started the second trimester.

An old man brought up a wheelchair.  I remembered how with my first c-section in 2005, they made me walk out of the hospital.  My mom was furious that I wasn't given a wheelchair back then.  My feet had been so swollen that I couldn't even get my shoes on. I was in horrendous pain.  And here I was riding out after a D&C.  Instead of a baby on my lap, I carried my bags.  Before we left, I showed Nancy a picture of Sammy and Benny sitting in a chair after their recent haircuts.  She said they were beautiful boys. My voice broke yet again as I told her, "Thank you for taking care of their mama."  She cried and hugged me.

As we rolled away, I found myself hoping that the woman who would use my room next would find nothing but joy in that room.

The old man pushing me chatted away about the tornado.  He said he'd never seen anything like it.  He said that most patients were brought downstairs to the cafeteria where it was safest.  Only patients in beds were kept in the center areas.  I learned that while he was a volunteer now, he had been the Chief Surgeon or something like that back in the '60s.  I thanked him for his kindness and was grateful that we didn't talk about anything further.  I wonder if he suspected why I was there?

We dropped off my prescriptions on the way to pick up the boys.  It was so good to see them.  Martha's sister had come over to help.  Both women were so compassionate and understanding.  They praised our boys' good behavior.  Martha said that she took them downstairs during the tornado warning.  I was thankful that she took such good care of them.  She said Benny had done fine.  Sammy was chatting away about the tornado.

We had to go to two different Walgreens to pick up my medications. By the time we picked up some food, and got home it was after 7:30.  I ate an entire foot long sub.  I guess I was hungry.  And chips.  And a chocolate chip cookie that the boys had made with Martha. 

For most of the night, I was in shock I think.  I wasn't supposed to do much physical work.  I really didn't know what to do with myself.  What does a woman do the very day she loses a child?  Pay bills?  Sleep?  Wash dishes?  I sat at the computer and stared at the wall for awhile.  I sat at the dining room table and talked with Alex.  I cried a lot.   I talked a bit to family.  I researched D&C recovery and found my way to sites about memorializing your baby.  This made me cry even more.

I experienced a difficult call from someone.  It's too hard to write about here and I'm grateful that I think was in shock during that time.  That's all I can say now.

I talked with my mom. I told her about what I had asked Alex earlier at the hospital, about who might be holding our baby.  I told her that I thought her dad was.  Mom cried.  She said that today, October 26 was both she and her dad's birthday.  She reminded me that Grandpa had delivered her on his birthday and that surely he was the one who was cradling my infant son up in Heaven.  My grandpa died back in '93--he was the first of my family to pass away that I was close to.  How I had thought of him now, I don't know.  It was only after my mom and I shared that beautiful realization of the special beauty of today that...well, I just think it was my grandpa who holds Jacob.   Mom and I have cried lots over this beautiful and symbolic thought.

I finally went to bed around 2:00 AM.  I have no idea how I made it up so late, especially after only 2 hours of sleep before.  It was hard getting into bed.  Not as hard as after a c-section but it was difficult to lift my legs up to our king-size bed.  I grabbed the Upper Room devotional booklet that I had picked up at the hospital.  I felt that I needed to leave with something so took it from their waiting area.  As I tried to get comfortable, I flipped the first page open. I had hoped to read something inspirational before trying to get to sleep.

You'll never believe this.  The very first page I opened to was titled, "Silence."  It quoted and was based on the exact same verse that I'd been seeing over the last few days--Psalm 46:10, "Be still and know that I am God."  I was almost in disbelief that I had found this verse for the third time, and all by accident.  I showed it to Alex.  He agreed that there was something there.

I wondered what I should do to "Be still."  I know God is trying to tell me something.  I hope I can hear Him.

Eventually I found myself drifting, my pillow damp from my tears and the cat at my feet.

So that's what a D&C is like for anyone who's ever wondered.  Perhaps you've never had one or never will.  Even in times of crisis, I hope my words find their way to you somehow.  Let yourself be in the moment, whatever that moment is.  Surround yourself with photos of loved ones.  Sit in a funk if you have to.  Write if if helps.  Cry.  Cry a lot. Listen for God.  He's there, just as He was with me today.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tornados, Tears and my D&C--part 1

Tuesday, October 26, 2010.  It was my mom's birthday. It was supposed to be a day where I had my boys call and sing  'Happy Birthday' to my mom over the phone.  A day where I'd look toward the weekend with excitement as Halloween comes closer--my boys can't wait for the fun.  Instead it was a day of pain.  Great pain.

I had only slept about 2 hours the night prior.  I'm not one for sleeping well before major events, especially if something is on my mind.  Monday night was no exception, obviously.  I flipped around in bed thinking all night long.  Thinking about my baby.  About how this was the last night with him in my belly.  Thinking about all that had happened in the last few days.  I cried throughout the night.

I finally got up around 8:06 AM.  Alex continued to hit the snooze.  I told him I was going to take a shower.  I caught sight of myself in the mirror before I stepped into the shower.  It dawned on me.  This was the last time I would see my pregnant body.  This time when I looked at my swollen tummy, I didn't see 'fat'.  In the last few weeks, I'd been complaining that I thought this would be my biggest pregnancy yet.  I had only gained 2 lbs but with two prior c-sections and everything stretched out in that area, I thought I'd be bigger. 

In the past I'd been 'all baby.'  When I was pregnant with Benny, no one could believe how big I was.  It was early September and he was due at the top of December.  We were at a fair in Tennessee and had stopped for a moment to watch one of those guys who guesses your age, weight or birthday. The older man saw me and said he would guess my due date.  For fun and because we knew he would be wrong, we agreed.  He said, "One thing--you're not carrying twins are you?"  I said,  "Nope!"  He guessed mid- October.  I said, "Try December 7."  He couldn't believe it!  He said that he had 9 grandchildren and was never wrong.  Just goes to show that being all baby can really throw off when people think you're due.

I was standing in front of the mirror thinking about all of that.  Feeling so guilty and ashamed that I had worried about my appearance just a few weeks ago, I can't lie--probably even a few days ago.  Afraid that people would compare me to my sister-in-law who IS carrying twins.  Our due dates were 2 weeks apart.  She is very tiny and even though I'm thin but taller than her, I feared that people would think I looked like a big clod and that she'd be all tiny and cute.  I beat myself up for thinking these things.  How dare I worry about something so ridiculously stupid.  And all that time my poor innocent baby was growing wrong.

This morning I didn't think I looked so big anymore.  As I stroked my belly holding my dead baby, my fingers naturally formed a heart over my belly button.  The boys and I have this 'heart' thing that we do.  I started it with Sammy when he was little.  I showed him how to make a heart shape with his thumbs and forefingers.  He came up with the idea to put our hearts through each other's.  Benny now understands this simple exchange of love and will frequently come up to me and say, "Heart me!" and hold out his hand for me to put my heart of fingers around his arm.  Whenever we do that his smile warms my heart.

I guess it was only natural that my fingers should now form a heart on my stomach for Baby Jacob.  He'll never say, "Heart me, Mama!" but I hope he could feel my heart today.  It's always been something between my boys and I and at least I can say that all of my boys have received 'Mama's heart'.

After showering I stared at my clothes.  What does someone wear to something like this?  I opted for comfort but paused as I looked at the colors of my shirts.  Should I go with something cheery to brighten my mood or something dark to match my depressed state?  I went with a baby blue turtle neck.

I packed my bags.  My Bible.   A journal, pens.  Some bills that needed paid.  Water and crackers for afterwards if I was starving. A pumpkin-flavored Pop-tart for Alex. My cell phone.  A box of kleenex.  A small plastic Eeyore toy that I had bought a month ago for the baby.  It was the only thing I had bought for him so far.  A picture of my mom.  A picture of my boys.  A 'sock-a-dile' that I had just made Sammy about a week ago.  She was purple, fuzzy and wears a silly grin.

I felt very anxious and crabby.  It didn't take me long to get things ready and I snapped at Alex when I couldn't figure out what was taking him so long to get ready.  We loaded up a ton of toys, the diaper bag, snacks and my bags and drove the boys to the lady's house who was going to watch them.

We have only left our boys with one person other than my mom.  She is "Miss Pam" to the boys.  She is a dear friend from Texas that we met in our dance group. She watched the boys while we were in practice and we trusted her completely.  The boys grew to love her as do we.  Aside from her, we've never left the boys with any kind of babysitter.  We've always taken the boys with us everywhere.  Part of the problem is that we've moved so often that it's hard to make friends and to find people that you trust.  This move in August was our 5th move in 7 years.  We barely know a few neighbors.  I called our landlord Monday night and asked if his wife was free to watch the boys. We get along really well with them and they love our boys.

He was so helpful.  His wife was unavailable but called a neighbor who offered to help.  Normally, we would never have taken our beloved children to someone that we didn't know.  We had to trust our landlord that this woman was the best there was.  We had to trust that she would care for our children.  Somehow we just knew that while Alex could have taken the boys to the hospital and tried to entertain them all day, it wouldn't have worked.  He needed time to be with me and we needed to be together with our sweet little Jacob as his mommy and his daddy.  I cried as I hugged Sammy and Benny goodbye.  They were already happily chattering away to Miss Martha.  She reassured us that the boys would be in good hands.

We got to the hospital at 11:03.  A man in a little golf cart drove us to the main entrance.  We found the elevators and proceeded to the 4th floor, Labor & Delivery.  Every step was agonizing.  We buzzed the doors to the Labor & Delivery section.  Alex said we had an 11:00 appointment.  They let us in and we walked past a 'Special Care Nursery'.  You couldn't see in the windows.  It was decorated with scenes from the book, Guess How Much I Love You?, I think it was. I cried.  This should be a happy place for mom's.  A place to welcome new life, not to say goodbye to it.

We approached the nurses station where there were about 6 nurses chatting. Alex again spoke, "We're here for an 11:00 appointment."  One nurse came right around and ushered us into a room.  She said, "We thought you'd be more comfortable in here."  I asked her, "Do you know who I am?"  She said quietly, "You're here for a D&C, right?"  I said, "Yes."  I felt stupid. How many pregnant women come in for appointments?  If you're pregnant and coming to Labor & Delivery it's usually not by appointment unless you're having a planned c-section.  Of course they would know who I was. 

I changed into my gown and crawled into bed.  I had forgotten how uncomfortable those stupid hospital beds were.  I was cold. Nancy, our nurse, brought me heated blankets.  Alex tried to get more light in the room and propped open the drapes.  There was a major storm coming. It was to peak at 1:00, right during my surgery.

Let me say something about our nurse.  She was the best nurse I could have ever hoped for. She was so caring, compassionate and loving.  Her voice was soft and slow and gentle.  She took as much time with me as I needed.  I am so grateful that she was there.

I called my mom around 12:00 to talk briefly.  The anesthesia nurse came in to ask the standard questions.  She laughed when I said I ate right up until midnight the night before.  I still felt sick. I was so hungry, nauseous and with major acid reflux--all pregnancy symptoms that continued to torture me even though my baby was dead. I guess my body didn't realize that yet.  I had only felt minor cramping the night before and no bleeding.

I asked the nurse why I was doing this.  Should I wait for my baby to miscarry naturally?  She reminded me how the body works.  That sometimes it doesn't recognize the baby's death and that this could go for 2-3 weeks.  The risk of infection was there.  With me already being 13 weeks it would only get more difficult and dangerous if I were to wait.  I also agreed that the emotional turmoil would be unbearable if I were to have simply waited.  I think about it though.  I could have maybe seen him.  Maybe.  It would have depended, I guess, on things.  But...to have had that chance to have seen him--oh, how I ache to see him.  I prayed last night that God would let me see his face in a dream.  Just once.  I know it's probably not possible, but I thought I'd ask God anyway.  Please, Lord, let me see my baby's face just once in a dream...

I did receive one unexpected gift during my time waiting for surgery.  Nancy told us of a recent law passed in Ohio called the "Grieving Parents Act."  She said that normally the state of Ohio issues death certificates for infants at 20 weeks or older.  This new law allows parents the option of having a death certificate issued for infants less than 20 weeks.  I was so touched by this.  My baby existed.  He really did.  People need to know he was here.  Ohio would know and would register him in this way.  My baby was real.

In addition to the death certificate, we took the option to have a funeral home pick up his remains and cremate them for us.  Again, I didn't even know something like this was available.  He will be placed in a baby blue infant urn and returned to us in a day or so.  I will be able to hold my baby.  I can't wait to hold him...even in that way.

Later my doctor asked if we were sure that we wanted to do that.  She said that when things were done, he would be "tissue in a jar."  I was sickened that she said this.  It's not like we were going to take him as is.  I'm not sure why she chose those words.  She's been so remarkably supportive.  I think she just wanted to make sure that we knew we wouldn't be able to do the advanced chromsome testing.  I asked her straight, "Is there really any benefit to this?  Will the information help us in any way in conceiving a future child?"  She said for the most part, no--that it would only confirm Trisomy 13.  We said we'd had enough.  If the evidence was so damning (forgive my language) on the ultrasound and our baby was dead, we didn't need some stupid test to tell us what we already knew.  Supposedly Pathology would also do some tests.  That was enough.

You'd think that all of this stress and anxiety would be enough for one woman to handle.  Around 12:20, I was coming back from my umpteenth trip to the bathroom.  Those fluids in my IV were working well.  I was told by a nurse that we needed to evacuate.  Tornado sirens were going off.

I'll continue more tomorrow.  Today has been an especially dark day.  Tears have overwhelmed me today.  I have so much to say yet.  For now, I'll leave you wondering about the tornado...

Thank you dear friends for your prayers and support.  This journey continues down a dark and cold tunnel.  I truly hope to see a glimmer of light soon.  I feel so empty.