Feeling Blue

I know I’ve been quiet the last two weeks.  I  realize that I don’t owe anyone any explanations, but I’ve been in a funk recently. I think it started last Tuesday.  We started telling close friends that we were pregnant with Isaac a bit after the 12-week mark.  On a cold day, we cuddled up on the couch with our 12-week ultrasound images and Facetimed our friends down in North Carolina.  With one particular set of friends, just after we showed them our pictures, they responded with their own.  They were expecting too and just two weeks behind us.  A bunch of our North Carolina friends ended up expecting Fall babies, but no one was due quite so close to Isaac.

Last Tuesday, our friends gave birth to a healthy baby boy.  I saw it on Facebook while I was laying in bed, and, at first, I was okay.  I was happy for them.  Then I started to worry about telling my husband.  Should I tell him?  I had recently told him that another friend of ours was pregnant, and he had told me that he didn’t want to know that.  I ended up waking him up to tell him.  Moments later, I was crying.  I am so happy for them.  It just hurts so much to see what we are missing out on.

The next day was even more difficult.  I woke up in a bad place and things just kept going wrong.  I had to challenge a contractor on the project I am managing, and I stressed for most of the day over how to do it. A package I was excited to receive that day got delayed.  Then the MFM we were supposed to meet with Friday called to say they couldn’t see us Friday and needed to reschedule even though my husband had reworked his whole week to be home Friday.  Then at the end of the day, in response to my questions, the contractor quit.  Every last one of those things ended up being resolved just fine, but I was a wreck on Wednesday.

We ended up getting to meet with the MFM on Thursday.  It went well.  They have a plan, part of which is getting my arthritis under control before attempting another pregnancy.  It seems there is some link between autoimmune diseases and preeclampsia.  They even got us an appointment with a rheumatologist in the same hospital for this week (I had tried independently and was told they couldn’t see me until next year).  I actually left the hospital smiling, because I felt so much hope.  Then, I saw another baby boy had been born to a sweet girl that I went to high school with.  I didn’t have any immediate reaction.  However, then I started thinking more about our new doctors and how seriously they take our care.  It made me realize how NOT seriously our care was taken during my pregnancy with Isaac.  Isaac deserved this care just as much as our future baby does, but he did not get it.

If the doctors had taken us more seriously and paid even half as much attention as they are now, we’d probably be cuddling Isaac instead of figuring out how to keep living after losing a lifetime with our baby boy.  It’s hard to see how easy it is for doctors to help us now when it is too late to save Isaac.

All of this stuff has made be feel a bit uninspired lately.  I’m not excited about my pottery class and I haven’t been able to come up with coherent blog posts.  It’s even resulted in me struggling to write the letters to Isaac in his journal. Times are tough, but I know that’s to be expected.  Hopefully, if I keep plowing forward day by day, things will get a bit more manageable.

Failure

Needless to say, losing Isaac has left my husband and I feeling helpless.  I have been lucky thus far in life.  I have lost just one grandparent and one great uncle that I was especially close to.  Other than those two losses, I haven’t had to deal with the death of anyone particularly close to me.  Both of those men died from illnesses but lived full and happy lives prior to their deaths.  Neither of them was robbed of life’s many joys before leaving us.  I was heartbroken by both losses, but I didn’t feel them nearly so intensely as I do with Isaac.

There are a number of differences that I know make this feel so distinct.  I carried Isaac and he felt like an extension of myself.  He also never got to experience all of the highs and lows that come with life.  He never got to experience anything except my belly.  While I know that Isaac’s death isn’t directly my fault, it does feel like some sort of failure on my part.  I failed to bring Isaac into this world alive, and, as a result, I will never hold him again.  I tried my hardest to do everything right in my pregnancy with Isaac.  I exercised, I ate well and I followed my doctors’ instructions exactly.  We sill lost him.

Other than challenging my doctor when he told me abnormal symptoms were normal, there wasn’t anything else I could have done.  This is a difficult thing to accept for me.  I’m not used to problems that I can’t fix.  I haven’t really encountered issues like this before.  I would do anything in the world to bring Isaac back, but no amount of effort could do that.  Until now, if I put in the effort, I could accomplish just about anything I wanted to.  I’m not saying that I always have put in the effort, but I could always look back and identify certain things I should have done (and generally knew that I should have done) to achieve some desired outcome.  In many cases, I was still able to fix any undesirable outcome.  Grades could almost always be improved, writing could be edited, and I could work harder to accomplish almost anything I wanted.

I have a lot of resentment towards my doctor at the moment.  I keep finding myself wanting to ask why he chose to brush off my concerns and to ignore my elevated blood pressure.  It’s as if knowing why he didn’t think my symptoms were important will somehow make our loss make more sense.  However, it does not ultimately matter.  I could rehash every step of my medical care and interrogate my doctor at length.  It will not change the fact that Isaac is gone.  I do realize how obvious this sounds.  I can’t bring Isaac back.  I can’t go back in time to the moment I so often relive, the moment where I wish I had insisted the doctor recheck my blood pressure.  I cannot fix this problem, this failure.  It’s a pretty terrible feeling.

At some point, I am going to have to figure out how to let go of the “what ifs”, the “could haves”, the “should haves”, and the “would haves”.  I will have to accept that Isaac cannot be brought back.  I will have to let go of the anger I feel towards the doctor.  I’m just not sure when I will be up to that task.

The Baby Smell

Babies have such a distinct smell.  I love that smell.  I was so excited to have my own baby for about a million reasons.  One of the million reasons I was excited seems so silly now.  I would have a son, and he would smell – well – like a baby.  There are countless things that seem like cruel jokes when you leave the hospital without a baby to take home.  My heart knew that Isaac was gone, but my body had no idea.  Here’s the thing.  It would seem that the smell I so loved comes from the milk that feeds babies, not the babies themselves.

This meant that for two weeks following Isaac’s birth the smell I so loved followed me around.  From the moment I woke up in the hospital, I kept noticing that distinct smell.  At first, I convinced myself that it was coming from the washcloths in the labor and delivery rooms of the hospital.  The magnesium IV drip made me feel like my face was on fire, so my husband made sure I had a steady stream of wet washcloths to put on my head.  I thought it might be the laundry detergent.  Maybe I was imagining it?

Then the smell followed us home.  Every so often I would catch that baby smell.  I realized it was coming from me.  At first, I found this incredibly upsetting.  It just seemed like a cruel reminder of what we had lost.  While my body initially had no idea that Isaac was gone, I knew it would figure things out eventually. It occurred to me that this smell was temporary.

I was right.  The smell was temporary.  During the two weeks I had the smell trailing around with me, I cherished it.  The smell is gone now and it breaks my heart.  I wish I could make it come back, but I know that will only happen if we manage to welcome a sibling for sweet little Isaac.  Every so often, I get the faintest whiff of the smell.  When I try to catch it with a deep breath, though, it’s not there.

 

When You Have to Avoid Your Favorite (Internet) Things

I talked a bit previously (here) about how I’d been needing to avoid my pregnant friends and family and the resulting babies.  I noticed the other day, though, that there are more pieces to this puzzle.  I am a huge online consumer.  I follow hundreds of blogs with topics ranging from lifestyle to food/cooking to fashion.  I love a good blog.  I am also a major Pinterest user.  Then there is online shopping.  I mostly window shop, but I even buy our trash bags online.

As soon as I found out I was pregnant, my search history, blogs, and Pinterest feed started to reflect that.  On Pinterest, I had a board where I stored general baby ideas (called “Maybe Baby”).  I had a board called “Baby Instruction Manual” filled with tips and tricks for managing every detail of a newborn baby’s life.  I also had a board full of nursery ideas.  I was following every major baby brand’s pins.  Pinterest and other similar platforms recognized this baby trend and filled my feeds with ideas and advertisements geared towards a mommy-to-be.  Every time I scrolled through there were ads for diapers, tips for getting your infant to sleep through the night, and guides for how much milk your baby needed at each stage of infancy.

In my blog reader, I had a full section of baby/pregnancy blogs.  These blogs varied in subject matter but generally featured some picture-perfect pregnant woman or new mom writing about their perfect lives.  Then, there was the shopping.  I had signed up for some ridiculous number of shopping newsletters trying to get the best deals on the million items it seemed we needed in preparation for Isaac’s arrival.  I received daily offers from companies like Giggle, Munchkin, Pottery Barn Kids, Baby Gap and the list goes on (and on and on).

I certainly had moments during my pregnancy where I couldn’t believe that I would actually have a baby boy to take home and care for.  Especially in a first pregnancy, I think it is difficult to picture a real living human inside of your belly that will one day kick and scream.  I worried something would go wrong as many expectant mothers likely do.  However, at the end of the day, I didn’t really think that at 32 weeks we would suddenly lose Isaac.  Somewhere around 27 weeks, it sank in that this baby boy was healthy and with some assistance could live outside of my body.  Maybe he’d be born early or have an unforeseen problem and need to spend time in the NICU, but we were having our baby.

Then we heard the words no pregnant couple ever wants to hear.  “I don’t see any cardiac activity.”  Then I woke up cozily propped up in a hospital bed at dawn on July 16th to realize it wasn’t a dream and our baby was gone.  Here’s the thing about all of the Pinterest boards, blogs, and email promotions.  They don’t magically disappear when you lose a baby.  My husband did a fantastic job of sneakily deleting all of the pregnancy tracking apps, kick counting apps, contraction counting apps and calendar reminders from my phone.  He even smartly kept my phone away for the first week or so.  I didn’t miss it.  I did, however, have my iPad once I left the hospital.

Browsing through Pinterest and blogs was a favorite activity long before I was pregnant.  I opened up those apps, desperate to distract my mind from the traumatic loss, labor and delivery of Isaac.  I did realize that there would be some reminders, but I seriously underestimated the level at which the “baby stuff” had taken over my digital world.  I had to wait another week before going into Pinterest and Feedly (the RSS reader I use) and painstakingly eliminating all things baby.  With Pinterest it took an entire afternoon of unfollowing users, marking posts as “not interesting”, and eliminating ads.  With the blogs, I had to get on a computer to eliminate each baby blog one by one.  There are still a number of blogs in my feed where the blogger just happens to be pregnant or have adorable little kids.  I still have to swipe through those posts without reading them.

I have a feeling I will either be pregnant again (hopefully) or we will be expanding our family in a less traditional fashion, and I will still periodically be receiving email promotions from baby brands that I have overlooked in my unsubscribing marathons.  I cannot count the number of email lists I have unsubscribed to over the past four and a half weeks.  However, at least once a day, I see another email from some adorable baby brand.  Each time it breaks my heart a little bit more.

No one wants to be surrounded with reminders of what they have lost.  To clarify, I want reminders that my baby boy was real, but not regular reminders of what could have and should have been.  Then there are the moments when I have to open those baby emails to unsubscribe.  I still see adorable onesies in those emails and have an inexplicable urge to buy them for a baby who will never wear them.  That is not fun.

Maybe I should invent a service that helps couples purge the baby reminders from their digital lives after this type of loss.  I might create a page that provides instructions for each platform that directs you how to actually eliminate the baby pins, blogs, and emails.  It was not as easy as I had hoped.

Doctors Are Supposed To Know Everything

I still haven’t shared the full story of losing Isaac and his subsequent birth, but I wanted to talk about the missed signs that something had gone wrong in my pregnancy.  Of course, I have no way of knowing whether Isaac could have been saved – he did, after all, have a knot in his cord.  I also do know that it is normal to want to blame someone when you lose a baby or anyone for that matter.  However, in our case, there were concrete signs that all was not well with my pregnancy.  Perhaps the other doctors I have spoken to are just humoring the grieving mother, but it does not seem I am entirely alone in thinking that my doctor failed us in this case.

I should start at the beginning.  I was a high-risk pregnancy from the start.  I am the lucky owner of two defective blood clotting genes that can be triggered by the massively increased estrogen associated with pregnancy.  To prevent a dangerous clot from harming either me or Isaac, I began daily injections of blood thinners as soon as I was confirmed pregnant.  I was also sent to a perinatologist after my first OB appointment.  This is the first point that something was off.  I didn’t realize it until I was in the hospital after losing Isaac, but I should have been seeing the perinatologist regularly throughout my pregnancy.  I saw one of the doctors at my first visit for a discussion, and he simply made recommendations to my OB (of which I constantly had to remind him). Another one of the perinatologists came in to tell us everything was normal at our 28-week growth scan and told us he thought the other doctor was being overly cautious with my care.  He and my OB had told us that it was fine to wait until 33 weeks (rather than 32) for the first weekly non-stress test.  That’s a test that could have shown Isaac was distressed, that could have shown us something was wrong.  I learned at the hospital that I should have been regularly overseen by a high-risk specialist.

At 29.5 weeks, I saw my OB.  My OB isn’t just a random doctor I found online.  He is the doctor that delivered me and my younger sister.  He is a very capable doctor.  I had seen a different doctor at the practice 3 weeks prior to this appointment and had found myself questioning my choice of doctor briefly when I realized the other doctor seemed to pay a bit more attention to my situation.  At this visit, however, it felt like something was off.  The first warning was that after gaining weight at a healthy rate throughout my pregnancy, I had gained 9 pounds in 3 weeks.  I hadn’t changed anything.  I was just quite swollen.  My cheeks had taken on a chipmunk appearance, and my boney ankles had been replaced with cankles.  When the nurse came in, she took my blood pressure.  She even asked me if I had a history of elevated blood pressure.  I had not.  In fact, I’d never had elevated blood pressure.  The nurse suggested that I was nervous and that must have triggered it.  I did tell her that I was not at all nervous, but she didn’t suggest that they try to take my blood pressure again.

The doctor came in and told me that I had passed my gestational diabetes test and that I was the least anemic patient in the practice (at least I had that going for me?).  He listened to Isaac’s heartbeat (I wish I had known that was the last time I would hear it).  Everything was fine.  He asked how often he was seeing me at the moment, and, upon noticing the previous doctor had picked 3 weeks, he suggested I return in 3 weeks.  I explained that I was planning to be out of town and that he had previously and repeatedly given us the all clear for that week.  I suggested I would be home in 2 weeks (for a high-risk pregnancy, in particular, that would have been normal) and in 4 weeks, unless that was a problem.  He said, “See you in 4 weeks!”  As he sat me up, I told him I had some questions.  I asked him if I should be concerned about my “elevated blood pressure” (I didn’t know what it was until I was in the hospital).  I also told him that I had been seeing spots and noticed significant increases in my swelling.  I asked if that was normal.  “Totally normal,” he said as he patted me on the back and ushered me out the door.  I went on to ignore these symptoms for too long, having been told by a medical professional that they were normal.

I learned later that my blood pressure was such that they should have retested me in 4 hours to see if it remained elevated.  If it had remained where it was, even in the absence of protein in my urine, I would have met the criteria for diagnosis preeclampsia.  I also learned that my out of character weight gain should have been a red flag.  It was so clear that I was retaining too much fluid.  Further, the swelling and seeing spots were two standard symptoms on the checklist for preeclampsia diagnosis.

To the perinatologist, who suggested that his colleague was overly cautious with my care: you were wrong.  To the OB, who told me my symptoms were normal: you were wrong.  The problem seems to be that these doctors see TONS of patients around here.  I became just another statistic to them.  It’s not just their fault, I should have stood up for myself.  My doctors were making me feel like a crazy pregnant woman for asking questions when really I was just a concerned mother-to-be.

There is a clear lesson to be learned here.  If you have doubts about your doctor, change doctors.  Insist that your questions be answered.  We, as human beings, are not just statistics.  If you don’t stand up for yourself, you could end up like me, full of “what ifs” and other regrets.

 

 

The Girl Who Runs Out of Movies

There seems to be a very delicate balance between not being ready to face certain emotional triggers and just not wanting to at all.  It’s hard to discern whether things are too raw for me and I should wait, or I have to just push through a bit of discomfort and basically face my fears.  Yesterday we accidentally misjudged which category a particular outing fell into.  There are a number of movies out right now that I want to see.  One of those movies is The Secret Life of Pets, and in an effort to get me out into the world, my husband bought tickets for us yesterday.  That it was a children’s movie didn’t even cross our minds.  We’ve always loved animated movies.  The first movie that my husband and I ever watched together was How to Train Your Dragon.

When my husband booked the tickets (it’s one of those theaters with reserved reclining seats), not a single ticket had been reserved yet.  The movie had been out a while, and we expected an empty theater.  We were quite wrong.  When we arrived, it was empty.  Then a steady stream of mothers with little boys walked in and took their seats.  I sat there anxiously and mentioned to my husband that this might have been a bad idea.  A few years from now, that was supposed to be me with Isaac and his little buddies from pre-school.  However, I decided that these were emotions that I could push through.  I probably could have.

As the previews started, I continued to doubt our decision to go to an animated movie. The first preview was for a movie called Storks, a movie playing on the tales parents tell their kids about where babies come from.  The preview put a lump in my throat, but as it ended the feeling passed.

Then the unthinkable happened.  A couple came in, right as the movie was about to start, and sat down in the empty seats to our left.  So we weren’t the only adults in the area who wanted to see a kids movie on a Friday at lunchtime – no big deal.  However, this wasn’t just any couple.  The wife was extremely pregnant and happy.  I’d venture she was about as pregnant as I should have been right now.  Today I would have been 36 weeks pregnant.  I couldn’t stop peeking over at her.  Did they know how lucky they were?  Did they know how quickly it could be over?

Maybe the pregnant couple shouldn’t have been so upsetting to me, but – you see – there was a reason we didn’t see the movie right when it came out.  I was saving up movies to see as a way to escape the August heat while waiting for Isaac to arrive.  We were supposed to be that happy pregnant couple, but instead our baby boy is already gone and I am the woman who can’t stop staring at the pregnant girl in the movie theater.

I had mentioned to my husband that I was struggling, and he told me that if I was unable to enjoy the movie he would gladly leave.  However, I wanted to see the movie.  I tried to get distracted by the cute animated animals that were doing ridiculous things on the screen.  It didn’t work.  It was hard to breathe, and I was overheating despite the AC.  Eventually,  I whispered to my husband that I couldn’t do it.  I tried to get up slowly and leave, but it turned into a weird high-speed escape.  I got into the hall, where I knew I needed to wait for my husband and his mother, and immediately started crying.  I cried the entire drive home, curled up in bed, and then cried some more.  I spent the whole afternoon and evening trying to distract myself in bed.   Day over.

So, as it happens, this was a case of not being ready to face certain realities.  It’s too soon to surround myself with reminders of what could have and should have been us.  This isn’t the first time I have ended up in a situation that I needed to escape, and I am sure this won’t be the last.  To those of you in this same depressing boat, there is no shame in not being ready.  Grieving is going to occur on its own schedule.  There is no need to force it.  Know that you aren’t alone.

Anxiety

I’ve always been an anxious person.  Long before Isaac, pregnancy or any of this, I was always worried about bad things happening.  I have vague memories of calling my dad’s carphone over and over again (before they had handheld cell phones) when my parents were at all late coming home.  Something must have happened to them, I’d think to myself.  In my junior year of high school, I survived a pretty horrible car accident.  Nearly a decade later I would be driving and suddenly be convinced that I was about to be hit by another car.  I did see someone for this, and while I would still worry about things periodically, the worst of my anxiety was managed.

Needless to say, pregnancy exacerbated my anxiety.  The internet is a scary place for a pregnant woman prone to anxiety, such as I was.  Early on I was convinced I had an ectopic pregnancy or some other complication.  Finally, around week 20, I started to calm down.  I could do this.  My body was doing this.  My biggest anxiety at 31.5 weeks pregnant was that I wasn’t going to finish the nursery in time.  Obviously, there were things I could more validly have worried about.

Losing Isaac and the trauma of giving birth to him under life-threatening circumstances has reignited my anxiety.  That’s perhaps an understatement.  I’ve been told it’s normal to be anxious after such an experience, and it does make sense.  However, it is pretty paralyzing.  A little less than two weeks after losing Isaac, my uncle’s arrival at the lake house triggered a panic attack.  Facing new people (new meaning those people who last saw me happy and pregnant) is pretty terrifying to me still.

I also find myself particularly attached to my husband.  I didn’t think anything of it until it was a “symptom” I could check off on a list at the grief specialist yesterday.  I’m nervous with my husband back at work.  I worry more than ever before about my husband’s safety on the drive back from work (he does spend nearly 3 hours a day commuting).

Today, I walked outside in the sweltering heat to call our 8-month-old Golden Retriever, Mowgli, back for his lunch.  We live at the back of a 12-acre lot, so this can be a difficult task.  We have a particular whistle that we do to get Mowgli to come running.  However, even after walking over to my parents’ house whistling the whole way, I didn’t hear the tell-tale sound of Mowgli’s tags.  The painters working over there hadn’t seen him.  He wasn’t in my parents’ house.  The guy, who maintains the property and usually can be seen with the puppy in tow, wasn’t even here.  I quickly started to panic.  My husband wasn’t here, my parents are away, and my dog was missing.  I spent an entire half hour imagining the worst.  Mowgli had chased someone down the driveway.  Mowgli had run through the invisible fence.  Something was wrong.  I imagined someone calling and telling me there had been an accident.  I imagined I’d never see our baby dog again.

I found him.  He’d gotten himself trapped in the meadow after following the gardeners down through a gate that had ultimately been closed.  He was sitting outside the fence crying, waiting for me to find him.

I don’t have some magical way to overcome the anxiety.  The hospital doctor gave me anxiety medication, but those drugs are addictive, and I only use them when I’m in an uncontrollable downward spiral.  I understand why I am anxious and know I am not alone in feeling this way.  I also know that anxiety is just a feeling, and is something I can overcome. Wish me luck.

IMG_0015

Mowgli

 

 

Day 16

August 2, 2016

Dearest Isaac,

Today Daddy and I went through the boxes that came while we were in New Hampshire.  Lots of great things came for you from people who loved you.  There was so much to love in such a tiny package.  We tucked some away for another day, but other things I had picked for your room we decided to keep out as reminders of you.  We kept and adorable bright textile from Australia.  We kept a mini globe that says “Adventure Awaits”.  I hope you are on a fantastic and dreamy adventure somewhere.

I missed you so much today.  Hardly a second went by that I didn’t think of you.  Today’s fixation was your smile.  I think I can imagine what it would have looked like.  Gosh – you were cute.  I would do anything to make you smile.  I would also do anything to hold you again one last time.  I also wish beyond anything that I had known our time together was about to end so abruptly.  I wish I could have said goodbye, or known that I needed to memorize the way your kung fu kicks felt in my belly.

Today we saw one of those things that is as close to magic as we will ever get.  It started with your Daddy convincing me to go outside with Mowgli.  Then I saw a big yellow butterfly.  No big deal – right?  But then I realized that the entire bush below was covered in perfect yellow butterflies.  I don’t know why they were there, and they were gone a few hours later, but they were so perfect in that moment.  I called your Daddy out to show him and he found a way to top the butterflies.  The trees next to our house were filled with tiny gorgeous goldfinches.  I’ve never seen anything like it – there were tiny yellow creatures flying all around us.  It had to be you.

Until that moment I felt so lost today.  Even eating felt like a chore.  It scares me.  Your Daddy has a haircut and an interview tomorrow, and I wish I could say that I will be OK tomorrow.  I just haven’t felt up to the chores of daily life.  Daddy wants your Grandma Cindy and Aunt EB to come up and keep me company and take care of me.  I don’t want them to see me so broken.  I don’t enjoy not wanting to get out of bed and not wanting to do anything.  I am embarrassed enough that your Daddy has to see me so destroyed and pathetic.   Anyways, Mommy could use an extra dose of strength from you tomorrow, baby boy.  I know that’s a bit backward.  The Mommy is supposed to be the strong one.  I promise I will be your strong Mommy again.

Love you forever,

Mommy

Day 15

August 1, 2016

Dearest Isaac,

Grief is a funny beast.  One second I feel like I see a path forward or I pause and I think I can enjoy things, the next I fall totally to pieces.  I miss you, I obsess over you and I feel like my heart and soul have been torn out.  Being back in Pennsylvania feels like torture.  Your Daddy continues to be a champion, my hero and my rock.  I know how lucky I am to have him.  He keeps reminding me that we are a family.  It just feels so broken right now.  I have told you before, but i will tell you again – I will someday fill this journal with happy stories.  I will tell you about your Daddy, your grandparents, your aunts, and uncles.  I’ll tell you about fun things we do.  Someday, I’ll tell you about your little brothers or sisters.  For now, I will vent.  I keep feeling guilty about it, but I’ve promised to always be honest with you.  To be honest, things are still too raw to write letters with any joy.

We took Mowgli to get some much-needed grooming today.  We dropped him off and went to the grocery store.  Your mommy stinks at grocery shopping.  We did get some good frozen ingredients.  We bought a freezer to fill with meals in preparation for your arrival.  I had always wanted an extra freezer.  I said I would fill it with meals for rainy days.  I do wish I had filled it sooner.  The days sure feel rainy right now.  I will fill it eventually.

After the store, we picked up Mowgli.  He is fluffy and adorable.  As I write this, he is rolling around in our bed like a big goober.

We received some news about you today.  You were a beautiful, perfectly normal baby.  In my sadness and anxiety, I had convinced myself that something was wrong with you – that perhaps I thought you were perfect just because you were my son.  I can see how someone might get blinded by love.  The doctors, however, agreed that you were perfectly normal.  There were not infections, not a hair out of place on your adorable head.  In part, I am relieved.  Yet the guilt – however unfounded – is overwhelming.  But for my body’s failure, you would have been okay.  I’ve never wanted to change something so badly in all my life.  In fact, I can’t remember wanting something so badly in life that I could not obtain with some amount of effort.  Maybe with things I wanted previously I did not put in the effort, but I always could have.  Losing Bup Bup was similar, but despite how much I loved him, it is nothing compared to this.  There is nothing I can do to bring you back.

I hope, at least, that I can be a person, a mother, you would be proud of.

I love you,

Mommy

Day 14

July 31, 2016

Dearest Isaac,

Today we went home.  Every second of it felt wrong.  I know you are with me and Daddy always, but it still felt like saying goodbye.  Bringing you home in a tiny box, containing an even tinier red velvet bag, felt so wrong.  Traffic was brutal, I cried until I was sick, and both Mowgli and Cali ended up sick.  Daddy held you in his lap the whole ride home.  It’s not a  ride in a car seat back from the hospital, but it is the best we will ever have.

This house feels like a prison of memories.  Seeing the nursery returned to a guestroom brought me to my knees.  Thank goodness your Daddy was there to catch me.  I found the package of positive pregnancy tests I had saved.  The so comforted me once, proving that you really existed.  I couldn’t believe we could be so lucky and so I proved it to myself every single morning.  I’ll never part with them – my concrete proof that this wasn’t just a terrible dream.

Daddy keeps trying to comfort me, saying there will be another baby.  While I so want a baby, there will never be another Isaac Immel.

Unfortunately, I’ve become a bit obsessed over what happened to you.  I know my body failed you, but I can’t help wondering if there was something else we missed.  Maybe your toes, while perfect to me, might not have been normal?  For all I know you were genetically perfect – I mean you were perfect and we love every millimeter of you.  I just want to know why I am not laying here cuddling you.  What did we miss?  Could we have prevented it?

The doctor in New Hampshire said we would have results in a few months.  I need answers now.  The wondering is eating me alive.

Mommy’s are supposed to be strong and I promise I am trying.  I will be better for you.  I just need more time.

Your Grandpa almost finished your signed for me today.  He sanded it down and hammered on a gorgeous copper border.  It still needs varnish, but it came out better than I imagined.  I am certainly going to make one for home.  We also got a letter from Grandpa’s friends.  They’re going to get us a pin oak for home too.  I can’t wait.  We want to have a physical place to feel close to you.  We will put a bench under it and it will be lovely.  This isn’t how it was supposed to be, but we will try to make the best of it.

Love you,

Mommy