Sunday, February 26, 2012

Grace

It's her name, this little girl growing within me. It's Grace. Or Gracie Bears, according to my husband.

We love her, oh how we love her.



Scott is so excited for her to arrive, tells me often how he wishes we could fast forward to the days when she is here on the couch with us, snuggling. He intends to stare at her and tickle her toes and to love and kiss on her. It makes me fall in love with him that much more when he talks about her, because he is so sincere in his intentions. Nine.point.five weeks my loves, that's all we have left!

We've known this would be her name since long before we knew she was a she, before she was conceived even... The name just seems so perfect for her, for the experience we have had as a family. It's a pretty name. It's a strong name. I think it bodes well for both a cutesy little girl as much as it does for the sophisticated young woman I hope she has the opportunity to become one day.

She will carry his name within hers.  As a nod to him, to the brother she never had the chance to meet here on Earth, Jack will be her middle name. It's an opportunity for his name to live on with hers, to continue to be spoken, to continue to be a reminder of the Grace which has come into our lives when we needed it most.

Monday, February 20, 2012

"You Said He"...

We're back from Whistler after a one night stay in Vancouver. It was fabulous and I'm a little sad it's over. It totally did what I wanted though, helped the time pass quickly after the days had begun to drone on a little up until we left for the trip. I'm back to work tomorrow (today was Family Day here in Ontario so we had the day off together), and I'm not looking forward to clearing voicemails and returning calls. Boo. Oh well, another couple of months and I'm done for a year (... goes without saying I'm hoping it works out that way this time...).

Yesterday, I was describing to Scott the switch from random kicks and jabs to the rolling sensations I've begun to feel over the past few days. He's a lot more invested in feeling her movements than he ever was with Jack... I think he was freaked out by the whole pregnancy/alien-esque movements the first time and hadn't really known what to expect. This time around? This time around he's surprised me by sticking his hand randomly on my belly and giving it a soft little rub or pat. He's attempting to interact with her through pokes back after a kick, or "tickles" after she shuffles her booty from one side of my abdomen to the other (can it still be called that if I have no muscles left in there? ;)). It's very sweet.

And I got off topic. Anyway, I was laughing after a particularly rambunctious set of rolls from my left to my right side which Scott had missed by mere seconds... I was attempting to describe the odd sensation when he interrupted me.

"You said he", he announced.

I did. I totally did. I catch myself sometimes, describing how/what/when "he" is doing something. I'm used to it at this point, I think it's so fluid in my pregnancy language that it's hard to remember that it's not in fact a he, but a little she in there this time. It seems much more natural to talk about a "him" than a "her", even though I've known her nearly as long as I've known him. I suppose when you think about it, I've known about "him" for nearly two years, and about her for only 2 months or so... It's strange, I don't necessarily feel badly about it, but I do feel a little odd that I continue to have these subconscious slip-ups.

For those pregnant after a loss with a baby of a different gender, do you catch yourself doing this? Or for those pregnant/ holding their subsequent same-gendered baby, do you refer to them by the name of their older brother/sister?
---

I had a dream about Jack for the first time the other night. I've waited a year for one.  It was only sort of like him, and the circumstances are a little foggy. I know I was going in to deliver her, and when they handed her to me, I immediately recognized that this was Jack, and not our little girl. I was confused, but didn't want to say anything as I felt like my time with him was fleeting... I was so happy to have him once again. I remember looking him over and he was definitely a boy, and definitely my sweet little man.

What a strange dream to have, my first one ever of him. I suppose it's only natural as he's the only baby I've ever had. To associate him with birth seems to make sense, but it's also one of my fears that I'm expecting her to be just like him. In all likely hood she'll be similar-looking but not the same. I don't want any part of her arrival to be disappointing and part of that is setting myself up with realistic expectations. It won't be him, he isn't coming back. But a sweet little glimpse of him, even in my dreams? I'll take it. I have a life time (please?) to spend cherishing her.

27w2 down, 11w2 to go.



Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Have Grief, Will Travel.

I'm writing from beautiful Whistler, British Columbia. I've never been anywhere near this west before (um, the most western I've ever been is Michigan, ha!)

If I were a good blogger, I would have pretty photos to show you... But I'm not, and so I don't. ha. I totally forgot my camera, and haven't left Whistler Village, so I've left the photo taking to Scott and his phone camera... He went heliskiing with two of his friends yesterday and has not stopped talking about the breathtaking views and fantastic fresh snow. I've seen a few of the photos, they're pretty spectatular.

He's promised to take me up the gondola, and perhaps that is what we will do tomorrow. I'm looking forward to exploring a little bit- it is absolutely breathtaking here, the sky has been clear the last couple of days and the mountains are gorgeous. I wish I knew a stronger adjective to discribe it, but I really don't.

Scott's been skiing each and every day since we arrived while I've been partaking in lots of shopping, massages, and facials. Oh, and naps. You would think I'm the one who has been physically exhausting my body because I have been napping like it's going out of style. I'm the one you'll find in the hotel room watching Netflix until housekeeping comes along, then I pretend I have somewhere better to be for 1/2 hour while the room is refreshed and I can crawl back into freshly made not by me sheets. haha.

The downside of having all this free time is that I've had a lot of time to renumerate over the past year and all the should have beens and all the might have hads. Today has been a little sad and I've found myself on the verge of tears several times when I think how much I wish I had Jack here with me, dressed in an adorable outfit and loving his momma. Bah. There are so many cute kids walking around with their parents and I can't help but think how different this vacation would be if we still had him.

How I wish we had him.

I miss him. I hate that I'll only ever know a little piece of who he might had been, and that stings. I'll never have thumbnail heart Valentine's Day cards with his long spindly fingers. I'll never be able to swoop him up and cover his face in kisses while he giggles.

And so now that we're a few months out from meeting our little girl, it's emphasizing how much it is that we'll never get to do with him. I'm beginning to have dreams of her, and what life would be like when she arrives. The dreams have shifted since my days of anticipating Jack... There is far more pink in my home than ever before, and I've been eyeing baby bathingsuits for a wedding we have in Jamaica in November. I can't bring myself to pull the trigger on purchasing them, it seems like I'm tempting fate to plan that much into the future... Crazy, right? I have so many wishes and hopes and dreams for Jack's darling baby sister, but I feel like a schmuck looking forward to the possibility of watching her grow when I failed to provide the same for him. I'm trying to be gentle on myself as I know nothing I do can change the outcome of any of this, but it does weigh heavily upon me as we crawl towards the "finish" line.

It seems strange to me that people tell us to enjoy our last baby-free vacation, "because it's all about to change"... I want to remind them that I would do anything to already be covered in animal cracker drool and be held back from skiing because my little guy can't yet do it. For realz. It's all I can do to just look at people when this garbage pours from their mouths. bah.

When I was getting a facial on the weekend the esthetician asked me whether this was my first pregnancy, and I answered it was not. She inevitably asked how old my first was, and so I told her he would have been a year. Her response was "oh, I'm so sorry. I feel awkward now". HA! Imagine that- I make you feel awkward because my kid died. Sorry! Whatever, I know she doesn't get it and in all fairness I likely shouldn't have bothered to tell her since I'll never see her again, and yet I can't bring myself to deny him, and so I don't. I figure better she feel akward than I feel horrible I didn't acknowledge him...

It's lovely to be away from Toronto and have ourselves a little break. The vacation is definitely doing what I hoped it would- it's a distraction from the day-to-day and I'll be 27 weeks pregnant by the time we arrive home... I guess I just thought I would find it more rejuvenation to have a bit of a break, but it seems the sadness knows how to travel province to province alongside me. You really can't massage grief away (believe me, I've tried).

Monday, February 6, 2012

New OB, New Worries

I met with my new OBGYN today. She's lovely. You know how some people just give off an aura which is calming and serene? Well that's how it felt when we met. She started off by apologizing for our loss of Jack and asked me how I'm doing on a psychological basis. I was straight-forward and honest with her in that this is something I struggle with daily and some days are easier than others.

She offered to arrange for a social worker or psychiatrist if I would like an assessment as we get closer to our little lady's due date. The very thought of a psychiatrist is enough to make me squirrelly as I deal with them on a professional level all the time and I have a lot of difficultly buying into it. I can anticipate what my diagnosis would be- PTSD, possibly Major Depressive Disorder, Chronic... But yeh, really, at this point I don't want someone to tell me what's wrong or how to fix it. What's wrong is that my baby died, and how to fix it is to try and focus on the positives which have come from all of this: supportive, best, most amazing husband in the world, relatively supportive friends and family (bat shit crazy in-laws not included). I tend to think I'm doing very well all things considering, and am not really interested in being told my grieving is inappropriate... Does that make sense? I don't want to talk about it with someone who hasn't experienced this/lived through this/knows me.

I'm very much a "take the bull by the horns" kind of person, so I know I have to face my fear head-on, and nothing short of exposing myself to my fears is going to resolve this or make it any easier. I did say I wouldn't mind talking to someone AFTER baby arrives, but then at the same time I get nervous at the thought of someone watching me and judging my actions with our baby since I know I'm going to be extremely emotional about it.

Anyways, that sorta went on a tangent I wasn't planning to write about, but it is what it is.



We talked about due dates and scheduling our c-section. She seemed to initially be under the impression I wanted to have baby girl super early (like in April?) and I assured her that wasn't my intention. I did tell her of my conversations with my prior OB about delivery at 38 weeks and that I was comfortable with that. She then mentioned recent studies which support babies seem to do better if scheduled sections are completed after 39 weeks... So this is where I kinda got nervous, because if I'm being honest, I don't WANT to wait to 39 weeks... I'm not really comfortable with it since I had Jack at 39 weeks and I'm nervous about going in to labour prior to the scheduled date- with my previous c-section, I'm incredibly anxious about my uterus rupturing... I'm also anxious because I don't want to go into labour and expose this baby to whatever infection killed my son... It's just not something I'm ever going to be comfortable with... The other thing which makes me want the 38 week section is that depending on which date I go by, Jack may have been 38 weeks (based on his original dating ultrasound, which was then moved forward by a week when they thought he measured ahead?).

The last and most superficial of it all? I turn thirty on May 7th... And ever since we started talking 38 week c-section, I've focused on having her on May 4th- 37W6... My thought process being that I would love to be discharged and heading home to start our "new life" on my thirtieth birthday- something about it seems romantic in a weird way... Having a love-in for my birthday with my baby and my husband is my idea of a dream-come-true, and knowing that may not happen makes me sad. Dumb, right? So the new OBGYN suggested we could look at mid-38 weeks, which puts me at my birthday or the day following which would be a great consolation prize... We should know a specific scheduled date in the next month or 6 weeks.

I realize how stupid it is in that it's just a few days difference, and that a year from now or more this will seem like such a petty thing to be worrying about, but still, it's hard. Every single day, especially those last few ones, are going to be oh.so.hard.

Anyway, after this we did the usual stuff: measuring my belly, listening to the horse galloping within my stomach, and talking about my stretch marks. ha.

All in all, I feel good about the appointment. We have an appointment in 4 weeks, then we start the bi-weekly sessions and I'm looking forward to that, too. I also get to have my delicious orange soda/glucose test at my next appointment, so that's something else to look forward to or not. Scott will be coming with me to that appointment so he can meet the new OBGYN. We'll be scheduling our hospital tour in 6 weeks or so, which I think will be nice to orient ourselves with the hospital a little better (I wandered for a while today, I'm terrible with directions).

Anyway, I wanted to put this out there, since it's been bothering me since my appointment earlier today. I actually got into my car to drive home and burst into tears at the unfairness of all of this. I called Scott to tell him about the appointment and I just cried. It's not the unfairness of the c-section date, but the unfairness of not having my little boy at home waiting for me... At the unfairness of even being in this situation in the first place... Of just wanting her (them both?) here, safe and sound, as soon as possible and not to drag on this pregnancy unnecessarily if there's no added benefit to it. I want to be one of those numb pregnant women who just prances through pregnancy without any thoughts that this baby won't make it. Do I ever...

Does all of this make me crazy?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Back When I Knew It All...

I've been sick with the flu since Sunday night. I'm finally feel better today (Friday), however I remain pretty darn exhausted. Looking forward to sleeping the weekend again... This is the excuse I'm going to use for my meandering thoughts below:

---

Before I was pregnant for the second time, just after we lost him, I found solace in becoming pregnant again. I was consumed by it, as was Scott. How to get us from point A to point B as quickly as possible.

I just knew it would be the one little thing which could make any of this better.  Sure, I could never have Jack back, but if the dates and months were going to fly by and be incredibly painful regardless of my wishes, I could at least be pregnant and have something to celebrate. Someone to look forward to.

My perception as to what being pregnant again would be like was far from the reality which I experience.

Back when I knew it all, I swore up and down being pregnant was going to be akin to "grieving with a little hope". Sure I will always grieve Jack, but at least I could have a little aside of joy in my life. That was my though process- a life which remained sour and tart, but with a little kick to it.  I assumed it would be better, because there was finally something to look forward to again. I felt pangs of jealousy when I heard of newly established pregnancies, just knowing everything for them would fly along just perfectly while I was left sweeping up the shambles of my life.

I thought of only the happy things, and never really gave any thought to how complicated it is to be pregnant and grieving, simultaneously. That my happiness does come with a huge aside of fear and dread and anxiety.

I feel like the outside world, those who haven't experienced this type of loss, assume things are all good now that we're expecting once again. Because they are confident we have paid our dues and moving forward life will be grand... Because they can't imagine any other alternative because they've never had to.  People who give me a puzzled look when I hesitate when responding to "how are you feeling?" questions because it is oh-so-much-more-complicated than "great thanks, you?". People who want us to enjoy this pregnancy and this baby on it's own and not let our previous experiences deter us from opening up to this new little lady, but it's impossible to separate the two pregnancies when they are so similar, so close in proximity, and my only experience with pregnancy has been a less than desirable outcome.

Of course I want to believe, more than anything, that we will welcome this baby into our arms for keeps in 13 weeks.  But when people try to convince me everything is going to be okay it sets my stomach afire with fear and anxiety. It makes me angry to hear it, even though I use these same words to ease my BLM friends... Because of course it shouldn't happen again, but then it should never really have been a possibility in the first place, right? Because there are no guarantees, and now I know it's a possibility I can't ease my worried little mine. Because it could, after all, happen again.

Knowing that just sucks.

And the worrying, it never stops.

There remain some saving graces in this pregnancy which I honestly believe have helped me to cope with the worries I carry within me, and I will try my best to describe them here in the hopes it might help someone (anyone?) and also linking up to My New Normal's "Managing the Fear" post.

1) Having a baby of the opposite gender. Obviously this is nothing I had any control over, though I do think it helps me to keep these babies separate in both my words and my heart. I have my little boy, and I have my little girl. I can't really explain why I think it helps me, but it does. I am entirely prepared to dress a little boy from 7lbs through age 4. No joke, my family is filled with shopaholics (my mother, sister and myself) and as such I am doubly prepared. So in knowing we will soon be welcoming a little girl, I've been able to buy things specifically targeted to her.  Whereas I was prepared to dress Jack in dinosaurs and monkeys on the butt, we're welcoming this little girl with ruffles and mary jane socks, and kitty cats on the derriere. I still struggle with not being able to buy more things for him, and even standing in the girl section of Baby Gap seems unnatural somehow, but I'm doing it.  It's different than the life I anticipated, but this part of it is very sweet, and so I'm trying my best to embrace this. Please note I reserve the right to come back to this when it comes time to unpack Jack's clothing in a couple of months.

2) Talking through & preparing for my anxieties. I talk to anyone who will listen to let them know my fears and anxieties- I don't keep it hidden. I'm a pretty open person to begin with, and discretion really isn't a specialty of mine which should come as no surprise considering all the things I've shared on this blog... I've been straight forward and honest at work by letting them all know of my intentions to take my leave earlier than my due date. Originally I told myself if I could get to February at work without losing my mind, that would be my goal. As I passed Jack's anniversaries, I told myself I could easily get to March, and perhaps even to the beginning of April before I would grant myself the option to let panic take over and become a freak show. So, this is the plan I'm sticking to. April is my new goal.

This point is actually two fold though, in that I also talk about what I anticipate so people will be checking in on me and my emotional state as birth approaches, and after we get home as well. By talking about it, I'm letting them know it's okay to ask me, and in fact I encourage it. I really can't think of anything I would hate more than if once she gets here, people don't ask me how I am doing mentally... It will be the biggest, pinkest, loudest elephant in the room, and I want people to talk to me about it in case I can't vocally ask for help. I already know some of my triggers (and breast feeding will undoubtably be one of them). I want to know people will be looking out for me when the time comes, because I am fully expecting there to be a PTSD aftershock. I'm not even kidding a little bit.

3) New OBGYN & new hospital. Something's gotta give, and in this case it was either my mind or my experience. I feel really badly, my OBGYN wasn't even the one who delivered Jack and I absolutely love her. It is thanks to her I got the "all clear" to start ttc once again, and thanks to her I was on Provera and later Clomid. She accepted my spastic phone calls and never made me feel judged. Honestly, it came down to the fact that she only has privileges at one hospital, and I don't think I can step foot in that same hospital again. Scott's made it clear he would be extremely uncomfortable there, so at my 22 week appointment I asked for a referral to a pretty new hospital in the city (with a top-rated NICU to boot) and my OBGYN obliged, letting me know she'd request a friend of hers take over my care. I know this is the right decision for us because for the first time in this entire pregnancy, I am actually looking forward to the delivery. Can you believe it? I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I love my OBGYN, but I love my babies more.

4) Giving myself targets. I'm a list person, through and through. I don't need a physical list (though anyone that has seen my desk at work can attest I have plenty of those, too). I give myself a mental checklist of dates and numbers and anniversaries. I turned the very thing which used to haunt me in the beginning (the incessant anniversary dates creeping up on me) and turned it into a coping mechanism to get through pregnancy after a loss. I gave myself goals: to get to eight weeks, then twelve weeks pregnant. Then each ultrasound, including the anatomy scan. To get through Christmas, New Years Eve, Jack's birthday and anniversaries. February first. Now that I'm 25 weeks pregnant, I've started a count-down of the number of weeks/days/work days left. It seems crazy (and I'll admit it is!), but somehow these little breakdowns of the time left is working and I'm starting to feel like time is getting away from me pretty quickly.

5) Distractions. We continue house hunting, planning out our dream home, crunching numbers. We're going on vacation for a little over a week next week- when I come back I'll already be 27 weeks pregnant. Then I only have 11 weeks left 'til she arrives. <-- See what I did right there? :)

6) I cry, wherever and whenever I feel like it. Most often it's at work and the most inconsequential thing is said to me, and I'll start silently sobbing at my desk. I don't make a big deal out of it other than when I run out of tissues and have already slobbered on my sleeves to the point of no return. I let my grief take over and I give into the fit of tears. I used to think that perhaps people who saw me cry might think I was weak or wonder whether I'd lost it, but then I realized I don't really give a shit, and that this is an impossibly difficult card I've been dealt and none of them can relate to it in any meaningful way- therefore, who are they to judge me, you know? I also tear up on the train when I hear a meaningful song on my Ipod (the other day it was Tim McGraw's "My Little Girl" that set me off). I don't make apologies for my emotions, they are what make me who I am.

7) I write emails to my BLM BFFs. I alert them to my craziness and they talk me off the edge. I try to reciprocate. I Can not describe how much these ladies have helped through this. At the end of the day, it's so nice to know you're not alone.
 
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