Mommy's heart for Baby Jacob

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.


Monday, October 25, 2010

The Final Bomb is Dropped

Another day to stain my head and heart. 

I was a nervous wreck getting ready for my OB appointment today.  This was my regular appointment, scheduled 4 weeks ago.  I was short with the boys this morning.  Benny wasn't eating as well as he normally does.  Sammy wasn't putting his shoes on fast enough.

The biggest thing I feared was that another bomb would be dropped on us today.  I was terrified that my doctor would tell me something like, "You could be in danger if you don't terminate this baby and it doesn't miscarry by a certain week."  My doctor already told me Friday that since I was so far along in the pregnancy if/when I did miscarry I'd be at risk for hemorrhaging and it could be life-threatening if I didn't make it to the hospital in time.  Again, not something you want to hear.

I knew in my heart that while I couldn't bring myself to terminate the pregnancy, anything like some 'life threatening' news for me would tip the scales and make the decision all the more agonizing to go against.  I seriously considered things like, "Could I give my life for my child's if it truly came to that?  Wouldn't that be the 'right' thing to do?"  My concerns primarily came from a lack of information.  The time we spent with the specialist after learning the news last Thursday was brief.  It was all thrown at us so fast.  I really left that appointment with a wall of unknowns in front of me. They barely discussed much of anything.

Back in grad school I learned of a theory called, "Uncertainty Reduction."   In a nutshell it says that we can't stand to be in a state of uncertainty.  We will do anything we can to fill in the gaps of the unknown with hypotheses, even rumors if it helps us to fill in those gaps with the 'known'.  Anything to reduce the uncertainty that we are feeling.

I think that in an effort to 'reduce my uncertainties' I was trying to consider all options.  What if I found out I'd be in danger if the baby didn't miscarry?  What if I couldn't try for another child?  I've had 2 c-sections already, how many can a woman have?  Could I trade the life of a potential future child for this child with the 'lethal' prognosis?  (Have I mentioned that I have grown to hate the word 'lethal'?  It was used so frequently in the last few days by medical personnel.)

So as we waited for an eternity--an hour in the doctor's office--those questions chased each other around my mind.  The boys watched Dora's Pirate Adventure on the DVD player we brought in for them.  Because he had only 6 hours of sleep last night, Alex dozed off and on in the chair.

I can't tell you how long and how agonizing that hour was.  I wanted to tell Dora to zip it.  She sang with such gusto it was making me sick, literally.  I grew tired of looking around the office.  The brown carpeting.  The medical certificates elegantly framed on the wall.  The statues of doctors holding babies.  The family picture showing my doctor, her husband and 3 smiling children.  The collage of baby pictures showing her twins.  The stupid pyramid clock on the desk was annoying.  It was sliced at angles and rotated by seconds, minutes, and hours.  How could anyone tell the time on that clock?

Finally the doctor came down the hall and introduced herself to Alex.  She said she wanted to get all of her other patients out of the way so she could spend as much time with us as we needed.  That was nice, but I wish they could have just told us to come later.  It was so hard sitting there for an hour with nothing but worry and Dora pummeling your head.

One of the first questions she asked us was about our preference.  I told her that I just didn't think I could terminate.  It might make all the sense in the world to do so, but it just didn't feel right to me.  I knew I could never live with my decision if I did do that.  I know many women make this decision and I respect them because it is such a difficult decision to make. But we all make our own decisions that fit who we are.  For me, it just was not something I could do. 

From there we talked in-depth about everything that could happen and when.   What if the baby miscarried in the next few weeks.  What if the baby went past 20 weeks, how he would 'come out.'  What hospital I would go to for what procedure.  I know poor Alex's head was spinning--go to this hospital before 20 weeks but go to that one after because they have a level 3 NICU.  Go to Labor and Delivery at this hospital.  Go to the ER at that one. 

We discussed having a 3rd c-section if my baby made it to near full-term.  How he could still pass away because the birth process is so traumatic.  Would I hold him for a few hours or if the neo-natologist gave him a quick assessment that saving his life was not possible, or if it was, he would be rushed to Dayton Children's Hospital where they have surgeons standing by but I would not be if anything were to go wrong there.

We discussed his chances.  We discussed all of the things wrong with him.  There were four primarily:  1-  thickness behind the neck which could signal different problems, but not necessarily mental difficulties like I first thought.  In fact, at this time, they didn't see any specific brain or heart problems but it could have been to early to detect.  2-  A portrusion in the abdominal wall--this is something like, "Omaphele" or something like that.  It doesn't matter the exact word.  I was happy to know that it was only the baby's small intestines which were outside but still enclosed in a sack, compared to other situations were some babies have all of their organs outside and no sack to protect them.  I know it sounds strange, but sometimes you need even the tiniest of hope to hold on to.  3-  Extra digits--not a problem.  4--A cleft lip and/or palate--again, something they could fix.  I was happy that that was ALL they found.  Again, you take what you can get and not seeing any obvious heart problems right away was something ever so tiny that I could hold on to.

At this point it was around 5:30 or so.  We'd been at the doctor's office for almost 2 hours.  Dora had finally been shut off.  It was now time for my ultrasound to check on my baby.  I told Alex that he could take the boys out since they wouldn't be able to handle much more. 

The doctor came in while the technician was doing my ultrasound.  I'm no expert but I'd like to say I've learned something from all of these ultrasounds.  There wasn't a heartbeat.  I knew it before they even told me.  My baby was lying kind off all stretched out with one hand up by his face and the other down.  His legs were stretched out.  I kept hoping to see the little 'flicker' as I called it, I hoped to see the little heartbeat.  They kept looking at different angles.  The doctor came close to the screen.  I asked, "We can't see the heartbeat, huh?"  My doctor said, "No, Kim.  I'm sorry."

Even though I knew this was possible, an onslaught of tears hit again.  There was my precious little child lying dead in my womb.  Never to be held by me.  Never to be sung to Mommy.  Never to feel Mommy's tears on his face as I told him over and over how much I loved him.  Never to nurse at my breast.  How could this be?  How could he have died so quickly?   And why on earth couldn't we have done the ultrasound first?  Do you know that I actually apologized to the doctor for taking up so much of her time discussing options when it wasn't even necessary?

My baby had been so active last Thursday.  His little ankles were crossed.  He kicked his feet several times.  He squirmed, wiggled and rolled.  It was so beautiful to see.  But today, he was limp. Lifeless.  He looked like a child's doll just...lying there.

One thing touched me.  My baby died sometime today.  I hit 13 weeks today.  My baby measured 13 weeks.  That meant he was with me until sometime today.  It gives me a small degree of comfort in knowing that.  Maybe he died this morning.  Maybe it was during our visit with the doctor.  I'll never know but I am happy to know that he wasn't gone for long before we found out. I don't know why this brings me a small amount of peace but it does.  Knowing when he died.  I guess I feel closer to him somehow.

I asked one more time for pictures of my baby.  They were so kind to give them to me.  Again, they are not the best angle, nor as close up as I could like but they show my tiny little love in there all the same.  I'll treasure those pictures forever.

I was the last to leave the doctor's office.  Again, for the few nurses and staff who were left it was a hush as I exited.  Glances and quiet that quite frankly I'm getting tired of walking through. 

I had to yell for Alex in the boys from the parking lot.  They were playing in the fall leaves in a small yard behind the doctor's office.  The boys reached me first--smiles on their faces, colorful leaves in their hands and a joyous, "Hi Mommy!" echoing in the wind.  Alex trudged up the hill behind them. 

I told him, "He's gone."  He looked at me. I said it again, "Our baby's gone."  I could see the disbelief in his face.  I knew he was utterly shocked that it happened so quickly.  Before he took the boys out, I had told him how relieved I was that all factors were still equal, that I was so glad to learn that my life wouldn't be any danger or anything crazy if we didn't terminate, that no more bombs were dropped on us.  He said that for him, nothing new came of today, it was all like last Thursday--hard all the same.  Guess I shouldn't have thought like that because little did I know that the worst bomb of all would be dropped on me.

I go in to the hospital tomorrow for my D&C. I've always hated that word.  It's disgusting and I don't even like to think about it.  I took the option to be fully asleep during the 30 minute procedure rather than in a twilight sleep.  I shudder to think what I would hear or smell if I was even faintly coherent.

Well, that's all for now.  The final blow.  Is my journey over?  Oh no.  It's just beginning.  Trying to make sense of all of this.  Trying to pick up the pieces and figure out what to do next.  Trying to define a new 'normal' for us.  Trying to conceive again. All of that is a journey that is yet ahead of me.  It is the journey of motherhood.

Thank you again dear friends and readers for your support and prayers.  It's helped me immensely.  I do seriously hope that if you are going through any sort of crisis in your family, my words help you in some way.

I guess there's always a chance I could die tomorrow.  The doctor told me that.  Of course, it's slim but hah, you don't want to know what I think of odds anymore.  If something like that were to happen?  My prayers would be for a peaceful and loving life for my husband and precious boys.  My joy would be knowing that I would soon be in Heaven with my darling infant son.

Until my next post, may you take one day at a time and may you celebrate each and every joy in your life--no matter how tiny!


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Learning to Listen for God

In an effort to not start panicking about tomorrow's regular appointment with my OB/GYN, I've decided to write a bit about what's happened in the last two days--specifically about how I am truly try to hear what God may be telling me.

Earlier I wrote about how we shopped for Halloween costumes following my ultrasound in which they gave my darling baby a death sentence.  We stopped at a thrift store to look for a dress that I could use as a Princess gown.   I was in no mood to look and didn't find anything.  Alex took the boys to the men's section and I held back to wait near the jewelry counter.  In all of the times we'd been to this store, I'd never looked in the counter. 

I walked up to it and glanced down through the glass.  The very first thing I saw was a small, approximately 3-inch long gold bookmark with the words, "Be still and know that I am God."  I couldn't take my eyes from the bookmark.  Was this God speaking to me?  How was it that I just so happened to look in a counter that I normally never look in?  Why was it that I looked straight down at the very spot where the bookmark lay?  It also dawned on me that the genetic counselor said that the baby was about 3 inches long right now--the same length as the bookmark.

I don't know how you know when God is talking to you.  I've often wished that it was easier to hear Him.  Maybe I'm too dense or often too preoccupied with my own life to hear His words clearly, I don't know.  I joked with my mom that I wish it could be like it was in the Bible--where an angel comes to you and tells you exactly what to do.

One way that I've always believed He was talking to me was through experiences such as this--something someone said to me, something I read, perhaps something that seemed to drop in my lap such as this silly little bookmark.  Some may think that it was just coincidence, that we see what we want to see.  That's okay.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion.  For me though, I choose to believe that God WAS speaking to me--right then in the thrift store.

I waited for an employee to unlock the counter and to show me the bookmark.  It cost 19 cents.  I bought it. 

When I told my mom later she agreed with me that it was a message from God.  It seemed to bring me a small amount of peace--that I should just slow down and let God be in charge.

We went to my mom's house yesterday for her birthday, despite our troubled hearts.  After the celebration, I sat down to finish writing an Advent Devotional which was due today.  I'm a writer who writes short stories and have recently started writing devotionals for my Christian Writer's Group as well as for my home church.  I discussed the verse that I had been given with my mom.  We flipped through several Bibles to get different perspectives. 

Mom pulled out her "Leaves of Gold" book-- a beautiful book of verses, poems, and pictures.  The very page she just happened to flip to brought tears to her eyes and mine when she showed me what her finger lay on.  It was the entire verse.  "Be still and know that I am God..." 

Again, you may feel that it was just coincidence.  How is it that my mom literally stumbled on the exact verse?  I choose to believe that God is talking to me during these first few days of panic, worry and extreme anguish.  It's this verse that I'm going to hold tight to in the next 24 hours.  I will continue to pray about it. 

Tomorrow my husband and I go to talk in-depth with my OB/GYN about all of my options.  We'll discuss pros/cons and risks.  What I am most afraid of is that she will tell me that my life could be at risk down the road if the baby doesn't miscarry naturally or if I don't terminate.  This was to be my third c-section.  I don't want anything to sway making this horrible decision.

The past few days have been strange.  Sometimes it's almost like things are 'normal', while other times it's like I'm in a nightmare that just won't stop. 

Thanks for sharing in this journey with me.  Your support and prayers are a tremendous help.  I hope my words help you if you find yourself on a similar journey.  You're not alone.

Now, it's time for me to "Be still...".  I'll keep you informed of what we learn in our appointment tomorrow.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Oct. 21, 2010

Hello. Welcome to my blog. My name is Kim and I guess I finally found a topic for a blog that I've been wanting to start for awhile now.  My hope is that through writing this blog, you can follow me along this journey.  It's like a story that unfolds each and every day.  I wish I could tell you that it will have a happy ending.  All of the short stories I have written have happy endings.  I have no idea how this story will end.  It is the story of my sweet little baby that I carry in my womb.  I hope that by experiencing this journey together, we all will have a better appreciation for the precious little lives that God gives to us.  For parents going through similar situations, my hope is that this blog will serve as a way to unify our hearts and tears...and for healing for us all.

October 21, 2010.  This day stained my mind and my heart.  My appointment with the Perinatal specialists was at 1:45 PM.  I was 12.5 weeks into my 3rd pregnancy and excited to soon be "out of the 1rst Trimester woods" so-to-speak.  I'd been experiencing a lot of nausea and acid indigestion and really having a rough time making it through most days.  I tried to eat something bland for lunch so my stomach wouldn't revolt during my 2-hour long appointment.  My boys, Sammy (age 5.5) and Benny (almost 3) would eat lunch with Daddy while I was at my appointment. 

The purpose of this appointment was an in-depth ultrasound that is usually done around 12 weeks or so of pregnancy.  I'd had 3 ultrasounds already and no problems.  Baby's heartbeat looked great.  No problems.  First round of bloodwork all looked great.  I'm new to the 40-year old club, healthy and so excited to be pregnant with our 3rd child.

For the first 40 minutes of my appointment, I sat through an interview with the genetic counselor.  Even though I'd had a neucco-screen before with my previous pregnancy, I hadn't ever heard of all of the facts my counselor threw out. She asked all sorts of family questions--our backgrounds, our family medical history, etc.  We had nothing to report--I guess our histories were pretty standard, nothing earth-shattering to share.  I even had my husband Alex, call his parents the night prior so he could find out if there were any cases of birth defects in his family.  Since he was taking the boys to lunch and then coming back for the ultrasound portion of the appointment, I did my homework ahead of time. 

After answering a gazillion questions--"Do you do drugs?"  "No."  "Do you drink?"  "No."  "Is there any chance you and your husband could be related?"  (Guess you never know what they'll ask!)  "No, ma'am," the counselor started explaining what they would be looking for in the ultrasound--measuring the thickness behind the baby's neck.  A certain level of thickness could indicate that the baby may have Down's Syndrome, or Trisomy 21.  I really was fascinated with her explanations of how the chromosomes come together and split to make the baby.  Even though part of me was a nervous wreck inside, I tried to ask intelligent questions and to remember what she told me. 

Finally, it was time for me to move on to the ultrasound portion of the visit.  The counselor said, "Don't worry.  I know all of this sounds scary but you have a 98% chance that everything is just fine."  Sounded good, right? 

I found my husband and boys and went in for my ultrasound.  The boys, especially Sammy, were so excited to see the baby.  Sammy loves learning about the human body so he was full of questions.  He was a little chatterbox through the whole exam.  I remember hoping that he wasn't distracting the technician.

After a couple of minutes, I asked the technician if she had found the heartbeat.  She said yes and then I saw the little flicker of the heart.  I laughed and said, "That's a good thing--always good to start with the basics!"  The technician continued to push around my abdomen to get a good view of the baby from all sides.  It wasn't the most comfortable ultrasound but I focused on watching the screen and seeing my baby squirm and wiggle--especially when she poked him to get him to flip this way or that way. 

Let me stop to explain something quickly, I am calling my baby 'him' at this point even though we don't know the gender.  I can't call him, 'it' because it's too impersonal.  Because we have two boys and would most likely have a third, I decided early on to call the baby, "he".  If the 20 week appointment confirmed it was a girl, then I'd be thrilled!  But for now, I'm in love with my little baby boy. 

After awhile, I noticed the technician doing some of the same measurements over and over.  The neck thickness.  The heart beat.  The facial angles.  I wondered in the cheeks were flat like the counselor explained was a sign of Down's Syndrome?  I couldn't tell.  When she was done, she said she would get the doctor and he would come in to explain everything to me.  The boys were starting to get squirrelly and Alex was getting tired.  I asked everyone to hang on for a bit longer.

The doctor came in, shook our hands and sat right down at the computer. I remember thinking that it was odd--I could have sworn the technician took my file out to him and they were gone for awhile.  When I saw him leaning on the desk with his chin in his hand studying the screen, I knew for sure that something was wrong.

He asked me to undress from the waist down so they could do a transvaginal ultrasound.  I knew things  weren't right.  When they came back in the room and he looked at the baby's stomach one more time, he had a dark look on his face.

With a sigh, he looked at me and started by saying, "We have some serious issues here.  There are some severe problems."  He went on to list things like:  thickness behind the baby's neck, extra digits, a portrusion in the abdominal wall and a cleft lip.  Never in my life could I have imagined hearing such things.  He said that while we didn't know for 100% sure, chances were highly likely that my baby had Trisomy 13 or 18, but he was pretty sure it was Trisomy 13.

Suddenly the the genetic counselor's information and diagrams came flashing back in my head.  I was thinking, "Wait a minute, isn't Trisomy 13 the most rare of the chromosomal abnormalities that a baby can have?"   People sometimes say that time stops when they receive horrible news. I wish I could say that time did stop.  I'd give anything if it just would have stopped.  It didn't.  It just kept ticking on with each second, each minute getting more and more unbelievable and awful with what the doctor told me. 

The doctor put his hand on my arm and said, "I'm very sorry."  Again, more red flags went off in my head.  It was almost like I had to pump him for the 'bottom line.'  It was then that he told me that my baby had an 80% chance of not making it to term.  It was difficult for me to form words at this point, but I asked, "So, are you saying I'm just waiting for my baby to die?  That it's just a matter of when and how?"  He said, "Yes."

I don't think any woman ever wants to use the words, 'baby' and 'die' in the same sentence.  It should be illegal. It was almost surreal as I used the words.  The doctor said I would more than likely miscarry.  Again, more shock.  Don't the statistics say that once you see the baby's heartbeat, once you reach the end of the first trimester, you have something like a 95% chance that everything is good and that you won't miscarry?  What good are statistics like that?  Again, I asked, "So, I'm waiting for my baby to die?  Is that what you're saying?"

My mind raced ahead through the next 6 mos.  Trick-or-Treating is next weekend.  My mom's birthday is this weekend.  Thanksgiving.  My husband out of town for various November weekends.  Christmas.  Do I just continue to live my life waiting for this awful thing to happen to me?  It could happen at any time.  How?  How do I do that?  How do you continue to get bigger, wear maternity clothes and at a time when you should be getting things ready for the baby, instead prepare yourself for your baby's death??  How?  How do I do that?

Of course the doctor ran through my options--have more testing done to confirm which chromosome was extra, wait and do nothing, or terminate the pregnancy.  I shot the testing down right away.  If they weren't even going to do the finger-prick blood test on me because things were so obvious on the ultrasound, why should I go through more tests to hear that everything is what they thought?  It sounded pretty bad as is.  The counselor said that even if it wasn't Trisomy 13, it was probably something else very rare. 

That left me with my other options to consider.  I always knew that termination was never something I could do.   I am praying for guidance right now.  I have my standard doctor appointment in a few days and I hope to get more questions answered. 

Before we left the ultrasound woman, I asked the technician for my pictures.  She had told me that they would be taken at the end and I had asked her twice for them.  She looked uncomfortable and printed three from my exam.  One was from the top down so you couldn't even see my baby.  The other two were vague, but still show my baby.  I thought, every other woman left here with baby pictures, why shouldn't I?  It was just all so sad. They left with smiles, I left with a face streaked full of tears.

Finally, it was time to go home.  I'd been told, "I'm sorry", one too many times by nurses and felt like it was  all hollow sympathy.  I knew they meant well, but it was just overwhelming--especially the whispers and glances from them as I came out to the main desk.  It was like the news that a woman's baby had been found to have Trisomy 13 spread through the office like wildfire.  I found myself thinking that doctor's offices like this should really have a "bad news exit" for women who've just found out that there dreams were shattered.  The worst I thought would happen at this appointment is that I would find out my baby had a chance of having Down's Syndrome and that I would have to start preparing myself for that.  I never knew that I could learn something so awful, and that my baby's life will more than likely end before I can ever hold him.

The rest of the day was as they say, a blur.  We went costume shopping for the boys.  I got myself a Princess costume because Sam and Ben want Mommy to be a Princess.  Sam will be Ironman and Benny will be Thomas. Daddy will be a pirate.  You might think it's silly to dress up as adult but we do it for our boys.  Some day they'll probably beg us not to be near them on Trick-or-Treat Night, but for now we're loving every minute of it.

I finally ate dinner around 8:00.  Every swallow was an effort.  I seriously hoped I wouldn't choke on my food.  Later I researched Trisomy 13 and found several children born with it.  Every parent said they wouldn't do a thing different even if they only got to hold their child for a few minutes or hours. Most of those stories were from people who didn't know their baby had it until they were born. I hope to find stories of parents, like me, who found out so early in the pregnancy.

Where do I go from here?  I guess I just wait.  It's possible that things might just happen on their own and I might miscarry at any time.  I'll meet with my doctor and pummel her with questions in a few days. I'll pray.  I'll cry.  I'll cry some more.

This is a journey of unknown depths, highlights, pitfalls and sadness.  I truly hope it ends with something beautiful, somehow...I'll keep you informed.