Sunday, March 25, 2012

Gigantic, Enormous, Terrifying Leaps of Faith...

Remember this post? I wrote it weeks before we knew Grace was on her way, it was in fact about a week later we conceived her.

I wrote about a dream house, of our fears to sell our Toronto home and trading it all in for country roads and fields, and a rural address. When I wrote the post I explored my greatest fear: we would buy the house of our dreams and be unable to fill the house with babies- the very reason we wanted the house in the first place.

Once we found out we were pregnant again, we made an offer on that very home pictured in the post. Our offer was countered with a sum which made us laugh out loud. We resigned ourselves to the fact we had tried, and now felt comfortable walking away- we would keep looking. We both remained scared of making a change before Grace arrived- because while we were pregnant, we no longer felt confident that pregnancy results in living, keeping forever babies. I'm still not convinced, but I am hopeful.

We've looked pretty consistently for the past 8 months and while a few houses peaked our interest, no further offers have been made. We would both look up the original house listing from time-to-time and ogle over it until the house went off the market just after Christmas. We assumed it had sold.

It wasn't until we returned from Whistler a month or so ago, we asked our realtor to reach out to the seller's agent who confirmed the house was in fact not sold, but rather just removed from market until the spring when it would be re-listed. We discussed our options with our realtor- the fact is no other houses had come to market for a price we were wiling to pay, and no house had captured our hearts quite as much as the house we had previously offered on. We decided to tour the house one last time (which we did last Sunday) and finally upped our original offer which was accepted on Tuesday.

We have a new house- our dream house, or at least it will be in July, when we are planning to be moving with a two month old daughter. An enormous leap of faith towards the future we have always planned, even though it means a variation of the life we had hoped for since it can never include the little boy we have longed to buy horsies, doggies or tractors for. It still hurts, that he can never be an active participant in our daily lives- that he never had the opportunity to enjoy the life we had always dreamed to share with him. But the reality is that whether or not we move, we can't have him back. We're not leaving him behind, but bringing his memory with us- to the home which should have been his.

This weekend has been filled with doing things around our own house to prepare it for sale. This meant I finally needed to address the nursery head-on. It's quite literally acted as a dumping ground for all things baby- cards of congratulations upon Jack's arrival, condolence cards and memorial contribution cards, and his cremation paperwork. It's all in there. It's also been home to purchases for Grace, cards we have received in recognition of the little lady growing within me. Gifts we've received from friends. There's a stroller and bassinet jammed in there with the car seat I carried empty into the house one cold day in January, 2011. Needless to say it was both a physical and emotional hurdle I needed to overcome before we could show it to a realtor and prepare our home for sale.

It meant I spent two hours yesterday sitting on the blue and white striped rug I had hoped he would learn to crawl on, sorting through the papers and clothing and gifts. I sorted into distinct piles: things which would only ever be Jack's- clothing he had worn and hadn't been washed before he passed away, and his paperwork (including his hospital health care he received upon birth which states "baby boy W..." My maiden name... knife to my heart), his social security card, and his birth and death certificates. A stack was made for baby boy clothes I hope will be worn by future sons, a pile for Grace's newborn- 3 month clothing, and finally a collection for clothes she wouldn't need until after we moved.  It's hard, segmenting all of the hopes and dreams we have for her from those we hold for her (hopefully) future brothers, and also the brother she'll never get to meet here on Earth.

The process was an emotional one, I cried a bunch as I packed up Jack's things, and touched his foot and hand moulds, touched the snippet of downy soft hair blond hair concealed within a tiny little envelope. Looking at the size one diapers which he wore in the NICU, even though they were entirely too big... Blankets he had touched while at the hospital- all these material things which prove he was real- they prove he was here. I cried for all the sweet things he never got the opportunity to wear- all the clothes hanging for him in his closet... I haven't even unpacked his clothing drawers yet- I ran out of time... But it's coming, in the next couple of weeks I need to do that too.

In an effort to consolidate things, I opened the wipes container which had been on his dresser. It's been more than a year since I've opened the container for the purpose of wiping his cute little butt clean, and yet the fact they were dried out was startling to me somehow. Logically it makes sense, but it's yet another example of something I never anticipated- that when I refilled that container, I would be doing it for the last time he was alive. That the contents of the container would be thrown a way as they had dried out.

Today I am washing sweet baby clothing. I had initially planned to wait another couple of weeks to begin this process, but decided as I was packing up boxes, I might as well get started. I have three loads of newborn and 0-3 clothes in various stages of clean- I've folded one load of baby sheets and swaddle blankets, burp clothes, and paired up baby socks. Even as I wash things I worry I'm tempting fate by starting 6+ weeks out from her arrival.  I try to push the thoughts out of the forefront of my mind and focus on the squirming being within me, who I hope will outgrow this clothing before wearing even half of it.

I also can't push away the thought my OBGYN might move up my delivery date (I am not-so-secretly hoping she does), and since I can't do many of the things we are required to do before listing (painting and exterior window cleaning) our house next week, this helps me to feel like I'm contributing in some way. I am preparing for her, just as I did her brother, with all the hope and optimism I can muster. I have to say, the sweet smell of baby laundry makes me smile. I never realized just how much I could miss something as mundane as laundry... But I have, and it's extremely bitter-sweet preparing for a baby I can only hope is going to be coming for keeps in just a few weeks.

I'm thankful for the distractions which come with a new home and all the "to do" lists which need to be completed before we can make our dream home really ours. The past week has flown by as we prepare for the big changes which are coming, and with a bunch of doctor's appointments this week and my time at work wrapping up just after Easter, I can't help like feel like we're edging ever so quickly towards Gracie's arrival. I'm so thankful to be at this point, which I always felt was out of reach, mere weeks from when she is to arrive. I have all my eggs in one uterus-shaped basket, and I just need this baby to make it. I need her here, to help heal our broken hearts and restore some of the innocence we lost when we lost him.

Please baby girl, just get here safely.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Regrets and Fears

This past year has been difficult to say the least.

It is nothing like the year we had hoped and anticipated when we first held our little man in our arms. It still leaves me anxious when I think of those beautiful days we had him at home, with no idea he was sick... No one knew, not even the family doctor who saw him just the day before he was admitted. It bothers me still, to feel like we missed a clue, a hint as to the viruses coursing through his little body.

It also terrifies me, because I feel like my instincts as a momma failed me, failed Scott, and ultimately failed my son. I've always thought motherhood would come naturally to me- and I felt like it had when he arrived... And now... Now I'm terrified that we'll lose Jack's sister Gracie, too. Terrified. How do I trust myself to know when something isn't right next time when I missed it and paid the ultimate price?

I have yet to post on this blog all the details of our stay at SickKids... I've alluded to it before in bits and pieces, and I've written about the kind and compassionate care we received while we were there... It's a wonderful hospital with an outstanding reputation for a reason- when you have the sickest of sick kids, there's no place you'd rather be. But it was too late when they saw him, he was already gone for all intents and purposes.

There are moments in those days which will continue to haunt me for the rest of my life. Conversations we had with specialists, things I know were done to him to confirm brain death... I try not to focus on these things because they are just too much and I fear that if I were to think about it too much, it's possible I would cease to function all together.

Even just the little things, like how I felt like he ceased to be mine, and I surrendered all my dreams and hopes in handing over my baby and begging for them to please fix him. But it was too late.

I'm sure any mother who has had their baby in the intensive Care Unit and gone on the lose them can attest to the same things... I felt like I couldn't hold him until they told me I could do. Like he had to lie there, legs splayed for all to see and touch, when all I wanted was to scoop him up and cuddle him.

Once it was determined there was no more they could do, they started to loosen up "the rules" and he was held as much as possible, despite it meaning arranging for a Respiratory Therapist and two nurses to help lift him into my arms to cradle him. It took three people to lift my seven pound boy and place him in my arms.

It's a lot of the little things which haunt me.  Before he became ill, I had a tendency to hold him chest-to-chest with me, his little head resting on my shoulder and his little heart beating against mine. Of course after he became sick it was no longer physically possible given all the tubes and wires and cords to hold him in this position. I regret that, I felt like I was holding a doll, not my son. It was all very surreal.

The last evening I held him through the night, refusing to take even pee breaks because I knew I would never get this time back. I would never get a do over, and I just knew I would long for these moments all the days of my life. I held him, just he and I, and I sang to him, and I told him I loved him over and over.  I told him and promised him I would never forget his sweet spirit and his kind little soul and that I was so grateful for having met him. That I was so sorry he didn't get to stay. I reminded him I had been waiting my whole life to meet him, and that I would never forgive myself for his death. Logically I *know* he was no longer there at that point, but if it was possible for him to see my love for him, I wanted his last moments to be those of love.

In many ways, I feel like this is an unfinished story. It was too short, it was too sad, and despite several days of laughs and getting peed on, it just will never be enough. But it's also all I have and I can't help but still feel like we have been f'd over by the universe. Because in what world do these horrible things continue to happen to good people, but bad things happen to those who certainly don't deserve it or appreciate it and they will just never know how lucky they are.

We are just fifty one days out from when Jack's little sister is scheduled to arrive. The day we have been hoping and dreaming of since our hopes and dreams were last dashed is just around the corner. I'm filled with hope, excitement, crippling fear and anxiety. Scott and I were talking in the car yesterday about a photo montage he wants me to make of he and Grace for his birthday next December. He's specifically requested it be set to Calvin Harris- Feel So Close, a song he has already informed me will be one of he and Grace's "songs" (he has also said this regarding several other songs, they're all for "them". ha). He plans they will dance and he will sing the lyrics to her for their mutual amusement.

"I feel so close to you right now, it's a force field.
I wear my heart upon my sleeve, like a big deal.
Your love boils down on me, surrounds me like a waterfall.
And there's no stopping us right now, I feel so close to you right now".

I'm so happy he's getting happy and excited about her arrival. It warms my heart to know this little bundle shuffling around inside me has people pulling for her. People who can't wait to hold her in their arms... It can be overwhelming at times, which is precisely what happened yesterday when I began to tear-up as was telling me about his plans for the song. Scott couldn't figure out why I was crying, and I just blurted it out- I just need her to get here. I want to fast forward my life until May when I am sitting here with her in my arms (please?). I quite literally have all my eggs in one basket and I feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times, so much responsibility to bare and there really isn't much input I can have to ensure a positive outcome... So many people banking on her arrival to shine a little light into our lives, but there is just so much fear which comes with that.

I just need her here. Fifty-one days.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Hook, Line, and Sinker

As I sit here, worry coursing through my veins, I am humbled by the very activity taking place within my body. She's growing, she learning, she's shuffling.  When I don’t feel her moving, I am overcome with anxiety and slight panic that maybe she’s gone... 
"What if she’s gone"? It’s not unusual for this question to play on repeat in my head, seconds before I feel a nudge or a kick from her. It's as though she's trying to say, “chill out mom, I’m fine”.
When I wake at night I pause before flipping sides or getting out of bed to see if I can feel her. She gives me a few pokes in acknowledgement to waking me up, and I’m good to resume my sleep again. It’s as if she knows exactly what I need, and when. She's such a good little girl already. :)
My New Normal wrote a beautiful post a couple weeks ago which had me in tears. She wrote about hope sneaking in and taking over when she least expects it, and the vulnerability that comes with that. It’s true, there’s so much on the line, so much to fear. What if it doesn’t work out this time, either?
But oh if it does... 
It’s too late for me. I am already hook-line-and-sinker for this little stinker. My heart is hers already. Despite my attempts to keep my expectations at a reasonable level, and although I want to approach her life and my love for her slowly, cautiously, and realistically, it’s really been over before it even begun. 
I feel unabashed pride and excitement at the mere thought of holding her for the first time, hearing her sweet cries and (please?) bringing her home for keeps.  My heart swells at the very thought of it... Of having someone to physically hold in my arms after months and months of emptiness. Of someone to keep me up at night begging for sleep, because I’ve slept all too well without the obligation for the past year. It's difficult, because I possess equal parts optimism and downright terror. For the most part though, I choose to let the happy take over and consume me.
Just like her big brother, Gracie has a personality all her own which I have come to know through her movements and responses to stimuli. For example, she’s already a daddy’s girl.  Last Sunday I awoke before Scott and moved myself (with great effort and a lot of noise from my creaking hips, I hasten to add) to the couch to watch television while Scott slept.  As I did so, I felt a few movements from her- enough to know she was okay, and then didn’t feel much of anything.  I assumed she went back to bed, which is more than okay with me. Not thirty minutes later, Scott awoke and came to check on me. He asked if everything was okay and before I could even answer, Gracie started rapidly moving around in my belly, as though to scream “hey dad! I’m awake. Look at me”! Not even seconds before she was sleeping but in hearing her daddy’s voice, she was awake.
So cute.  I’m in so much trouble. These two are going to be inseparable, and really? I can't wait!
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