Monday, October 15, 2012

Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day

Here we are, once again.

So much I wish I could say.  The problem now is merely time; Vivienne - my lovely, funny, squirmy, flying-squirrel of a delightfully intense and sometimes terribly fussy and wonderfully, sadly independent living (so amazingly, stunningly alive) baby - takes up so much of it.

As it should be.

And yet -


Her brother is not forgotten, or less loved, or less missed.  Gabriel is still gone and his absence is still harrowing and hurtful, unfair and unforgiving.

The dichotomy in which I existed after his death has not changed, merely shifted.  I am still and stuck and yet move forward every day.  I am sad and despairing and filled with joy.

Vivienne didn't replace Gabriel, but she did heal some of the hurt, fill some of the gaping wounds.

Life, as ever, moves on.

But today, I can take a moment, here and now, to reflect and remember my son.  My beautiful, tiny, fragile little boy.

And so many, many others (my own lost pregnancies included).

Not forgotten.  All missed.  All loved.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Happy birthday, darling.

3 years.

My heart is full and breaking.

There is so much I want to say and the words won't come.

I miss him.  I love him.

I wish you were here, baby boy.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Been Awhile

But I've been busy!  Mostly with this (4 wks):

And this (8 wks):

I'll try to write more soon.  You know, when she's doing more of this:

Until then, I'll be like this:

Monday, May 14, 2012

2 weeks in

The birth story is still coming, I promise.  What with all the pumping and feeding and trying to sleep when the baby does (and visitors and laundry, dear god, the laundry will it ever end?), throw in a dog that is still acclimating to the change and keeping baby upstairs and a temperamental laptop, I get maybe an hour a day to be on the computer which is not nearly enough to do everything I need to do.

But in the interim . . .

It's shocking to realize my baby is already (almost) 2 weeks old.  On one hand, she's been here forever and ever.  On the other, what a terribly short time that is.  I'm realizing the heartbreak of parenting a living child - the time flies so quickly and it is so ephemeral.  Already, Vivienne is changing. 

My little tiny girl had regained her birth weight by her one week appointment, and now she's visibly bigger (and heavier).  She's getting a second chin and chubby arms and legs and her hands no longer look a size too big.  Her hair is lighter (unsurprisingly, she's going to be a blonde child - DH was platinum blonde and I had dark blonde hair until late toddlerhood when it began darkening), and her eyes are changing too.  It's still debatable whether they will stay grey like mine or turn green like DH's.  She tries to hold her head up, eager to see the world around her.

I remember telling my mother last week that I don't want her to change, that she can't get bigger yet, that she's got to stay small forever, or at least long enough for me to enjoy it.  Alas, time marches on and I can't quite get over a tiny bit of resentment at how much of it has been spent sleeping or attached to the pump.  I try to make the most of the time she is alert and awake.  I've spent hours just watching the expressions flit over her face (three guesses where my favorite nickname of 'Baby Fish Face' came from).  She has the most gorgeous smile and there is also a grin and a sideways glance of the eyes that will be killer some day when they aren't just reflexes and ingrained survival instinct but are 'real' - though I'll happily coo over the expressions now, because they are so amazing.

So she's already begun to grow, and grow up, and as sad as that makes me I also can't wait for more.  I can't wait to see how she reacts to the pool and going swimming and what she thinks of applesauce and pear puree and watching her discover things and begin moving and talking . . . I want to jump ahead and I want time to stop all at once.

It's different being a mother to a living child (perceptive, aren't I?) - the thing is that time did stop with Gabriel.  There was only then and that was it.  We only had a few minutes to cram in all the love of a lifetime.  We never got to watch the expressions on his face, we never got to see what would happen next.  I'll never know what his eye color would have been, nor what he would have liked or loathed.  He is forever frozen in that moment of his life and his death, almost as frozen as a picture.  The only thing we knew after is grief, and trying to piece together and remember what joy had come before.  Whereas, with Vivienne, it's ongoing.  She is vital, she moves, she breathes, she changes, she lives.  We are not forever mourning that moment of loss, that snuffed potential - we are mourning each tiny moment even while anticipating the next.  The anticipation, the expectation, the hope of the future, that is what is different.

I miss him terribly right now.  I know he weighed heavily on DH, especially at the end of my pregnancy, but I was still in suspended animation.  I knew then that what would weigh on me would be the common everyday things of life with a living baby, and I was right.  Doing things with Viv, it reminds me of the things I didn't do with Gabe.  The absence is magnified by her presence.  Sometimes I think I feel a small presence, a little boy at my side peering over my shoulder, unsure what to make of this creature, unsure where he fits in now.  Poor older brother, is it any easier being a spirit sibling?

And yet, the sadness is not lingering, not really.  Perhaps it is lost in the exhaustion of a newborn, perhaps it's buried to erupt later.  Perhaps there is simply too much joy in cuddling the flesh and blood that are tangible in my arms.  If I kiss her every chance I can, and hold her close to my heart for an extra beat or two, well, that's not so strange, I expect.

Ah, I hear her stirring.  It's nearly time for her next feeding and I need to pump.  Again.  But here are a couple of pictures.  Somehow, we ended up with a completely gorgeous baby. 

                                         (Vivienne, 6 days old, half asleep, half smiling)


           (Vivienne, 11 days old, looking out the window, presumably thinking deep, deep thoughts)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Vivienne Rose has arrived!

Forgive the brevity and lateness. Between new baby girl and internet and laptop issues, this is the first chance I've had to get online (seriously).

Details and pics to come later, promise.

For now though, vital statistics:

High blood pressure that refused to go down led to 24 hour collection, which I was told was negative, but actually did contain protein - enough for a 'mild pre-eclampsia' diagnosis. Even higher blood pressure led to overnight admission for monitoring and another 24 hour urine collection (increasing proteins) on Friday night/Saturday by a fill-in doc of the practice, followed by release to strict bedrest and follow up with my doctor on Monday.

That resulted in admission to the hospital for induction. My doc said that if she hadn't been on vacation, I would have already had the baby because she wasn't thrilled with the developing pre-eclampsia, no matter how mild it appeared to be.

Cervidil was started around 4:30 pm on April 30, exactly 39 weeks. There is a really funny (to me, anyway) story I'll tell later about my labor/delivery and how it was rather precipitate for what we had planned.

Vivienne made her debut at 8:17 am on May 1 after about an hour to an hour and a half of pushing. I was on mag sulfate, and between that and the sertraline in the last tri, they had NICU pediatriacs standing by in case of breathing difficulties. She was taken directly to the warmer where she scored a 6 on the 1 minute apgar (points removed for color and tone). Her breathing was fine, but no crying or fussing. At 5 minutes, her apgar was 8 (again, points removed for color and tone) and it was 9 at 10 minutes. They handed her to DH and finally told him it was normal for mag babies to be a little pale (he was getting really concerned). She pinked up fine and hasn't stopped moving or flailing since.

She weighed in at 7 lbs, 9 oz (ha! where was my monster baby?!) and she was 21 inches long. Initially, breastfeeding went well, subsequently we've had difficulties latching, which have been resolved by pumping and supplementing with formula (making all three of us much, much happier and more relaxed). We are trying to catch up sleep - the hospital, lovely as it was, wasn't conducive to it, since I had to spend an extra 24 hours on mag in bed in L&D (which isn't really designed for that, tbh). My mom came in the day she was born, my in-laws visited soon after. We have some awesome pictures. She's absolutely delightful in every way, and we couldn't be more in love.

Gabriel is very present in my mind, as I trace her gorgeous little face and see the familial similarities, as I hold her and remember holding him. The joy is undiluted, but the sadness is also present. Vivienne does not replace him, never would we dream of asking her to, but the hole in our hearts and lives is differently shaped now - stronger in some areas and more raw in others.

Still, our girl is wonderful, and we are existing in exhausted amazement.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I will cut you.

So after all this time, I'm still here at a day shy of 38 weeks. Baby has moved head down and into birth position (though is not well engaged in the pelvis yet), and is healthy as can be or so say the tests. The last growth scan indicated a 7+ pound infant and my new doctor cheerfully informed me that if I go to 40 weeks, we may have a 9-pounder on our hands. I did not find that amusing.

They originally told me less than a 5% chance of getting to May, and now we're looking at scheduling an induction for that first week of May. It's surreal - happy news, of course! the best possible outcomes - but surreal. I'm hanging in there - the complaints of pregnancy are normal ones and I'm tired and ready to be done with work. They will not let me go past my due date, but unless baby makes an appearance this coming week or the 24-hour urine collection or bloodwork I'll do tomorrow (due to another high blood pressure reading in office) suggest pre-eclampsia, then we're pretty much looking at induction the following week. I'm guessing this will end with induction, given that not much has happened naturally. No cervical change (save some shortening) since the cerclage came out.

I find that I am tired and more grumpy than I've any real right to be. My doctors have been great with listening to me and really hearing what I am saying about my anxiety and working with me to put me at ease. I have a lot of testing and monitoring (probably made easier by the fact that my blood pressure has given high/wonky readings so they can categorize it under PIH/Pre-E observation and testing, though it continues to come back clear time and again. . .). I have a few contractions - mostly BH, I think. Random, mildly annoying. The baby is big and stretching makes me cringe because various sharp body parts are poked into painful places and there really isn't much room in there any longer.

We're mostly ready. Not at work, but hey, if I can just finish two or three things, I'll rest easy about it. We've got our plans laid out for leave and are 90% sure about our plans for childcare. The upstairs is as clean and organized as it has ever been. It's nice up there - I want to spend time there. Amazing that a mere few weeks ago, we couldn't walk all the way into one room and had dedicated pathways to navigate the other. Everything up there now has a place (save the linen closet, which we are working on today now that we've gotten new shelving). The carseat has been installed and the hospital bag packed since the night before the cerclage removal. The co-sleeper, pack'n'play, swing and bouncer have been assembled and have batteries ready and waiting. The nursery is pretty much done, though DH is going to go over the carpet with the steam cleaner one more time (there is a persistent sort of stain in one corner - it gets lighter each time, but isn't gone yet). We've interviewed a pediatrician, and while I won't claim it was love at first sight, the practice's policies were in line with our own and she is board certified and affiliated with the hospitals I wanted and takes our insurance, so it's as good a place to start as any. If we don't really click with her, there are hundreds of others to choose from.

 Beyond that, I'm just sort of assuming on-the-job training. I know a fair amount about newborn and infant care nad my husband knows much less, but in the end, we shrugged and said they'll show us much of what we need in the hospital and the internet is full of resources. Certainly, dumber people that us manage to reproduce and not kill their offspring through sheer ineptitude or lack of experience, so I'm going to assume that we'll survive.

God, I hope so.

 But mostly, the only thing I really wanted to say is that the next person who smirks and tells me to get some sleep now, HAHAHAHAHA, because you won't be able to once the baby arrives is getting shanked. It's neither clever nor helpful advice, and because I can't sleep and am fucking tired, I'm nearing the point where I will not be held responsible for my actions.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Oh, hi! Yeah, we're still here.

So . . . yeah.

Short version: Baby is doing well, at 35 and a half weeks, passing BPPs and moving strongly, practicing breathing and flipping breech and back (currently breech. sigh). Cerclage is being removed on Monday. More on that later.

Long version:

Let's start with work. I'm going to summarize a long period by saying this - I applied for a vacancy in my office when my colleague left. I was one of the final candidates, but I didn't get the job. It went to someone with more experience. The entire episode left me feeling pretty bitter - not that they didn't hire me, I can understand why on many levels and the person they did hire is fantastic and I genuinely like that person - but the way certain things were handled (or not - like not informing me that I was not chosen, which is a huge lack of common courtesy given that I've worked here for four years and share an office with the new person). It's been a revelation and a big disappointment; not only not getting a job that would have been personally loads better for me, but finding out that I mean less to this organization than I thought hurt me a lot. Stupid in many ways, but after all the time and effort (unpaid and largely unrewarded effort) I've put it in, it was distressing to learn that it didn't matter more. Add to that the fact that I took on an extra department (essentially a full time job by itself)in September and have not received any additional compensation for it, and when I became eligible again in March was asked to wait until September 2012 for a reclassification, and I haven't been a particularly happy worker bee. Now, before pitchforks and such go up, the main reason for the request to wait was to my monetary advantage in the long run - there are raises coming, and if I reclass now I will be ineligible. Waiting allows me to get a higher salary (based on a higher rate + plus higher equity rates across the positions), but still . . . a full year of trying to do 3 jobs, for free, is not easy to swallow. Nor is the fact that I essentially allowed it to happen and screwed myself over in the process.

On the other hand, it made cutting back my hours easier and boy oh boy can I not wait for maternity leave just to be away for awhile.

What else has been going on?

Baby stuff. I kept meaning to update and then I'd think, well, let me wait for the next appointment. And uh, here we are, coming up on cerclage removal.

Generally, things are fine. No gestational diabetes, child growing nicely. There was a bit of a scare around 30 weeks, when the perinatalogist appt revealed a baby 1-3 weeks ahead in measurements across the board and also fluid levels above normal, but not quite into official polyhydramnios range. That could be associated with birth defects. However, when I returned for what ended up being my last appointment at 33 and a half weeks, the growth had evened out and was within a week of gestational age, and the fluid levels had returned to normal. Apparently, we just literally caught a growth spurt in progress. At 33 and a half weeks, the baby weighed over 5 lbs, and the peri absolutely glowed about how well things had gone and . . . released me. He told me he'd see me again next pregnancy for another stitch.

I've since been on weekly appointments with my OB, with a BPP/AFI each time. The first one passed, but not by much, as the child decided that was the perfect time to nap and apparently takes sleep as seriously as I do. No big deal, except when you are doing an u/s specifically to check on things like, oh, movement and variable heart-rate and practice breathing . . . but the last one was a fiesty moving baby. Literally flipping back and forth, back and forth between vertex and breech.

Cerclage is coming out on Monday, around noon. We hope baby has returned to vertex, but it comes out either way. It is possible that baby could be born shortly thereafter, though more than likely it will be some time. My cervix has begun to shorten, but no signs of dilation or effacement yet. Of course, the instability/incompetency is at the interal os, so my water could break next Wednesday and then comes baby. Or I could be induced at the end of the month. It doesn't really make planning very easy, to be honest, when you say "I could have the baby Monday. Or in four weeks. Yeah." We just hope baby is head down when/if my water breaks, as it is an emergency c-section otherwise because of the risks of cord prolapse, etc. Clearly, there is room enough to move, but the inclination appears to be . . . lacking. Monkey baby. Or as I blurted out when I found out we were breech AGAIN, "Little bastard!" The u/s tech looked horrified, and not overly reassured when I said, "Oh don't worry, I know who the father is!" Ok, no, that just happened in my head. I thought it would be in poor taste to call the baby a bastard. But I thought it. So I'm not a very nice person. Meh.

As for how I am feeling - awful. I am completely exhausted, not sleeping well (does any pregnant woman sleep well at 9 months?) and my pelvis feels like it is going to split in half whenever I get up and walk. Also, if I stay in any one position (sitting, standing, laying down, whatever) for too long (how long is too long is unknown and variable) I can barely move. It's awful and painful and I feel vaguely amazed that I never realized before how painful this could be. But so long as baby is good, I hang in there. I'm starting to feel more cramping and a contraction here or there, but nothing awful yet.

Emotionally, I'm fairly stable, but the anxiety is increasing and the idea the baby could be here next week is stressing me out. We don't feel ready. At all. There is just so much to get done. The nursery is mostly finished, save a few details like ironing curtains or carpet cleaning, etc. Diapers and clothes are washed and ready. But the rest of the house is a mess and the carseat isn't installed, etc. Much to do.

We toured the hospital last night - there is a new wing that has just opened for maternity services and it is swanky and nice. I mean, like really really nice. That, more than anything, bummed me out about the increasing likelihood of a c-section. I mean, whatever is necessary to get baby here safely is what needs to happen. But the labor/delivery rooms are incredible and the labor nurses are all doula trained and so on and so on. . . I want a chance for one piece of this (other than conception, as my husband reminded me mischievously) not to require the highest levels of medical intervention and monitoring and care, you know? I won't feel like a failure or anything if it doesn't happen that way, but it would be nice. But again, whatever is needed to get baby here alive and safe and sound.

So, that's the rough update. I'm sure I've skipped tons, but frankly, I have to get back to work. Too much left to do and potentially very little time left to do it.