The Wrong Sort of Milestone

Today was my second appointment with my grief therapist.  First, to those going through something similar, I strongly recommend talking to someone who is experienced in dealing with the loss of a baby.  I’m a big believer in therapy as a general matter, but in this specific instance, in particular, it is good to have someone who will be able to recognize whether you are dealing with things in a healthy fashion.  Second, today’s appointment got me thinking about milestones.

When you are expecting a baby, you go through a huge list of milestones.  There’s the first time you see the heartbeat, finding out the gender, viability – and the list goes on. Then there are the milestones you expect to have going forward.  There’s the birth of your baby, hearing the first cry, baby’s first smile, crawling, walking, and limitless other things that you are excited to experience with your baby.  These are the things you look forward to when you are pregnant.  These are the things you daydream about.  These are the things I daydreamed about.

Then we lost Isaac.  We won’t get to experience those milestones with Isaac.  We won’t see him smile, or find out who he would have most looked like.  We won’t know the sound of his cry or when he would have decided to crawl.  Instead, we face a different set of milestones.

I had my first solo outing last week.  My husband had to have a first day back at work.  Eventually, I will make it to the grocery store alone or to the mall alone.  Each time I see a new person, who hasn’t seen me since I was big and pregnant, is a milestone.  Someday, I will have my first up close and personal encounter with a friend or family member’s baby, or a pregnant woman.  Today is a milestone.  Today marks exactly one month since Isaac’s birth.  September 3rd will be the day I was expecting to be induced.  September 10th will be Isaac’s due date.  I was once counting down to those last two milestones with excitement, now I look forward at them with dread.

Pregnancy seems to make you hyper aware of time.  You count every single week.  Then when a baby is born, you mark the passage of time by counting how many weeks old your baby is now.  Those instincts don’t go away just because you no longer have your baby.  Rather, you just end up looking at a new sort of milestone.  They are sad milestones that remind us of what could have and should have been, but they are all we have.

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.

HELP – The Whole World Is Pregnant

Ok – the WHOLE world isn’t pregnant, but it certainly feels that way.  While I was pregnant and still filled with hope for the future, the fact that so many people around me were pregnant or had young babies was exciting.  I’m not one to fixate on fitting in normally, but this was something I was looking forward to.  My husband’s twin sister gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, my godson, back in January.  It was just days before we broke the news that we were expecting a baby that would join this adorable new generation.  My nephew/godson is amazing.

A few months ago, my husband’s younger brother and his sweet wife announced that they too were expecting a baby around Christmastime this year.  I was so excited.  I couldn’t wait to help her pick out maternity clothes and to have someone else join this little club.  We were all having babies in the same order/timing we got married a couple of years ago.  This felt so right.  At the same time, 3 out of 7 wives in my husband’s group of southern friends were pregnant.  One gave birth just the day before we lost Isaac.  Her daughter is precious.  Another is due just two weeks after I was due in September.  Our kids were supposed to grow up together.  Even celebrities seem to be joining in on the trend.

This situation was perfect . . . when I was still part of the club.  Now it is torture.  I am so painfully jealous of my friends and family with their perfect chubby babies and still cute baby bumps.  I don’t do well with pregnant women and babies at the moment.  I have avoided baby sections in the few stores I’ve visited like the plague.  The grief specialist had to take me in through the back entrance to ensure I didn’t see any of the mothers with babies that the other doctors in the practice treat.  I haven’t even been able to talk to my still pregnant sister-in-law since we lost Isaac.  I’d love to call her and vent and let her know how much I love her, how much I hope she is doing well.  Right now, I just can’t bear it.

I want to be these girls, but instead, I am sitting here wondering if I will ever know what it’s like to give birth to a chubby screaming baby of my own.  My mother promises me that I will, but no one can promise that.  I have an unfortunate collection of genetic “stuff” and now a history of Preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome.  I have a 1 in 4 chance of getting sick again, and if it happens, it is likely to happen earlier in pregnancy.  At 32 weeks, Isaac would have needed some NICU time, but had such a high chance of survival.  Earlier will complicate things.

All I want is to turn back the clock.  I want to rejoin the pregnant girl/newborn baby club.  Having so many pregnant women around me doesn’t feel as amazing anymore.

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.

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Mowgli

 

 

The Dreaded Question

People warn you right after you lose a baby that other people will say things that hurt despite the best of intentions.  There are TONS of things that are upsetting that make sense.  For example, “I know one day you will have lots of beautiful children.”  It’s someone sincerely hoping we one day have the baby to take home that we have always hoped for.  However, it makes me want to scream, “I ALREADY HAD A BEAUTIFUL CHILD, HIS NAME IS ISAAC.” The littlest thing can trigger me.  The thing that has triggered me the most lately, though, has been entirely unexpected. From the moment we were told that Isaac had died, people started asking us what kind of service we would have, where were we going to lay him to rest, and later where we planned to scatter his ashes.

 

We were absolutely not ready to answer that question moments after being told our baby was never going to come home with us like we had planned.  The morning after Isaac was born, my husband and I knew one thing – we wanted to have Isaac cremated.  It was an oddly easy call considering the circumstances.  We honestly did not even have to discuss it for more than the briefest moment.  I am not 100% certain how the Catholic religion handles cremation (and am not looking to do any research on the matter), but I do know that Judaism prohibits cremation.  I am not especially religious and have actually been disappointed in how my religion deals with infant loss.  Judaism doesn’t really do much for babies who do not survive at least 30 days. I know it’s a rule from a much different time and world where many more babies were lost, but it is obviously a rule developed by someone who never lost a baby.  The bottom line is that we never had any doubts on the matter.

 

After Isaac’s autopsy, he was returned to the area and cremated.  It was too hard for us to go pick him up ourselves, so my parents lovingly did so. He’s still in the tiny red velvet bag that he came home in.  We have him inside the remembrance box the hospital gave us temporarily.  People suggested that we put some of his ashes with the trees we plant, but we haven’t been able to part with him.  He was such a tiny little baby, the bag we have is painfully small.  So far the only plan is to wear a special necklace with the tiniest bit of him enclosed so I can carry him with me always.  We need to do something with him besides leave him in a bag.  He deserves so much better than that.  It turns out finding an urn for a baby is really difficult.

 

On the whole service/funeral matter – I feel like everyone asks me.  They don’t mean anything at all by it.  Well perhaps they have expectations, but they don’t mean to upset us.  At first, it was easy to say that we were simply going to honor him in a lot of varied ways.  Now I am starting to worry that  eventually I will regret not having had any traditional ceremony.  Perhaps we are depriving others of a chance to say goodbye to our baby boy.  We may feel the loss the most acutely, but it wasn’t only my husband and I that lost Isaac.  I don’t want to deprive anyone, but then I panic because I don’t want to ever say goodbye to him.  Plus, what if we pick some sort of ceremony or service and it feels wrong?

 

The truth is that I don’t know what to do.  I know there isn’t a right answer.  I also know that this isn’t supposed to be easy.  The bottom line?  People keep asking me this question and I find it so upsetting, but it is just because I realize I have no idea what the answer is.

Honoring Isaac

If there is one thing that has been helpful throughout this terrible time it has been finding ways to honor our beautiful baby boy.  From the first day we left the hospital I was consumed with an urge to commemorate the fact that we made perfect little boy named Isaac.  I think my inclination is to worry that the world will forget that this ever happened.  So below are some of the ways we’ve been remembering our baby.

  • Planting a Tree: We planted a pin oak tree in New Hampshire. IMG_0464 Some day we will put a little sign on the tree and it will always be a special place for us to feel close to Isaac.  A close family friend offered to plant one here, in Pennsylvania, as well.  My husband’s parents also hinted they might plant a similar tree in Charlotte.  This makes my heart as close to happy as it will get at the moment.
  • Jewelery: I’ve likely gone overboard here, but being able to wear things that symbolize Isaac is comforting.  So far I have a necklace.Satya  It’s actually Isaac’s sign, Cancer, with his birthstone, Ruby, mixed in.  I got mine from Satya.  I actually found myself calmer while wearing it.  We are looking for a ring that I can wear as well.  I want something small and stackable with his birthstone (and his name inside if possible).  The idea will be to put small rings with my birthstone and my husband’s around it for now.  Then, hopefully, when we have more children, we can add rings for them as well.  My mom has a stack for her kids (me and my three younger sisters).  They’re perfect, but, unfortunately the jeweler has gone out of business. Etsy has tons of rings, but it is so hard to know if they are high quality and this is one piece of jewelery I couldn’t bear to have break or not look nice. We’re going to take my mom’s rings to a local jeweler we trust to see if he knows someone who can make something similar for us.
  • Crafts: I’ve always liked crafts, but this experience has driven me to learn some new ones.  When I was much younger, I went to overnight camp.  It was a sports camp and I did not like it.  However, I did learn to use a router to carve wooden signs.  Random, right?  All of those signs are scattered around my parents’ lakehouse.  The first night I was out of the hospital, I was looking at the mantle in my bedroom and just decided it had an empty spot where an Isaac sign belonged.  My dad bought be a dremel, and after a few days of practicing I carved a sign with our baby’s name.IMG_2207
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    We filled in the carved part with my husband’s favorite color, and my dad put copper around the edge.  He’s going to add a coat of varnish.  We wrote a little message to Isaac on the back.

  • Charity: While I initially had a terrible doctor in the hospital (yes – you can save someone’s life and be terrible simultaneously – another story for another time), I could not have been luckier with my second doctor and one of the most remarkable groups of women for nurses.  I was basically in the middle of nowhere in a tiny hospital with a total of 25 beds, but I received amazing medical care.  In lieu of flowers and such, we asked for people to donate to Speare Memorial Hospital’s Labor & Delivery Department.  They have received an outpouring of gifts in Isaac’s memory that I never could have imagined.  On the one hand, we’ve been able to actually see the love that existed in this world for our baby boy.  On the other hand, our loss could actually help other people in similar situations.  The hospital has two labor and delivery rooms, the one that I spent my entire visit in is going to be named in honor of Isaac.  Someday, when I’m feeling stronger, my husband and I will go and see it.IMG_2269
  • Gifts: I’m not the only one who lost Isaac.  Our family and friends lost him too.  My husband craves personal reminders of our son the same way that I do. He has asked for a subtle bracelet (this is challenging since he’s not someone I picture wearing bracelets generally).  I will find one eventually.  I did get him a keychain with Isaac’s footprints engraved on it.  The footprints we got from the hospital weren’t fantastic, and it looks like he only had 8 toes (he had 10 – we counted every one), but they are perfect to us.  My mother in law and sisters in law are also interested in something to remember Isaac.  I am searching for the perfect things for them.  Looking for the perfect gifts seems like such a trivial thing to be doing 3 weeks after our world caved in on us, but it’s simultaneously distracting and lets me remember my son. 

    I know I’m forgetting things we’ve been doing.  Also, not everything we do is something that others can see.  We’re trying to be better people every single day to honor our son.  He deserves the best.

Loss

Part of me hopes that if you have found this page, it is not because you have been through what my husband and I have gone through.  The other part hopes that if you have gone through something similar, this site might bring you some comfort.  I suppose I am getting ahead of myself.  On July 16, 2016, at 32 weeks pregnant, I gave birth to a son, Isaac, just 30 or so hours after being told he had passed away.  I had done things the right way.  I had exercised regularly, avoided cold cuts, eaten well, slept well – the works.  However, I had developed HELLP Syndrome, a dangerous pregnancy complication, related to the much more commonly known Preeclampsia.

To be clear, I had noticed the telltale symptoms of Preeclampsia weeks prior to our loss.  I’d learned about them in our Prepared Childbirth class. In fact, I had asked my OB at my recent appointment about my suddenly elevated blood pressure, rapidly worsening swelling and seeing spots in my vision.  This doctor, the man who delivered me 29 years ago and was supposed to be monitoring my high-risk pregnancy, told me everything was normal and ushered me out of his office.  I later discovered he didn’t even note the concerns in my chart. The symptoms continued, I developed a pain in my chest that radiated through to my back.  It was my arthritis, I told myself.  I gained 9 lbs in 3 weeks, but the doctor wasn’t concerned and he knew way more about pregnancy than this first-time momma to be.  My family and I joked about my feet, which no longer fit into any shoes but my flip flops.  I joked about my new superpower, the ability to see my own cheeks.  None of us realized how bad things had gotten.

The hospital apparently knew what was happening to me pretty soon after realizing Isaac had passed away.  Although, in an effort to keep me calm, my diagnosis was discussed behind closed doors.  I knew something was really wrong with me – they couldn’t get my veins to cooperate, I had to have my blood pressure constantly monitored, and some poor anesthesiologist had to explain to me that because my platelets were low, an epidural was out of the question.  At one point I insisted on executing a living will.  Despite an IV full of pain and anxiety medication and limited information, I knew something was dangerously wrong with me.

I have since filled in most of the gaps with the help of my husband, parents, and sisters, who all rushed to my side when they heard the terrible news.  I will save that for another time.  The sad and unavoidable truth is that 3 weeks and one day ago, we lost our baby boy.  We’d had huge hopes and dreams for our baby boy.  The nursery was well underway, the baby shower complete.  We were supposed to be on our last vacation as just a couple.  Instead, we were forced to say goodbye to a little boy we will never get to know.

If I haven’t lost you yet, congratulations.  The past three weeks have been a rollercoaster, and I expect things to continue on in an unpredictable and difficult manner.  I’d been thinking, though, that maybe our story could help other couples.  Maybe our story can help another couple identify a problem before a tragic loss, maybe it can comfort someone else who has lost a baby far too soon.  I’m going to be brutally honest on this blog.  I will tell our story in more depth.  I will share some, if not all, of the letters I have written nightly since leaving the hospital.  I will share the ways that we are grieving, the ways that we are choosing to remember the perfect baby we will never again hold.  If it doesn’t help someone else, it will at least help me.

 

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Our beautiful son, Isaac.

 

 

Day 19

Agust 5, 2016

Dearest Isaac,

Your Daddy went back to work today.  I missed him so much even though it was not a whole day.  I did OKAY.  I woke up, I took care of Mowgli and I even took my medicine.  TI took me 4 hours, but I eventually ate my breakfast (and lunch).  I didn’t feel like doing anything, so I watched TV.  I never realized how many TV episodes have pregnancy, birth or baby loss in them.  One episode featured the birth of twins.  I thought I was fine.  I thought that if I could watch, I’d get closer to being able to go places.  When the babies gave their first cries, I totally lost it.  I knew I was missing out on cuddling you, nurturing and loving you. I didn’t realize how much it hurt that you were silent and still when you were born nearly 3 weeks ago.  I guess it didn’t hit me because I was so out of it that night.  I don’t even remember what it felt like to push.  I just remember how you felt coming out (it was nothing compared to the contractions, though).  We were robbed of that happy moment when the baby finally comes out and cries.  At least it was peaceful, I suppose.

Your grandpa reached out to CHOP to help us find the best medical care for the future.  We ended up speaking to one of their doctors. She was nice as can be.  She can’t treat me, but she can help get us the right team. She already had someone in mind for us to contact.  She basically confirmed my suspicion that you and I didn’t have sufficient medical care.  I am so sorry I did not realize it sooner.  She did, however, put some hope back in Daddy’s and my life.  She said we CAN try again.  She also suggested that trying could commence at 4 months instead of the 6-12 months we heard previously.  It would still be risky.  Now that I have had HELLP Syndrome, there is a 1 in 4 chance it will happen again and it would likely happen earlier.  BUT if it happens, they would catch it sooner.  Things didn’t have to end that way and, hopefully, they never will again.  Mommy couldn’t bear it.

I am so broken over losing you, but now I have a spot of hope on the distant horizon.  I have to get healthy, to eat well and to exercise.  It’s what I know you would want and what must happen for the sake of your future sibling.  I will still count the days and weeks from your birth, still count down the days until your due date, until we could have taken you home.  But now I can also count the days until we can try again.  To be fair, “trying again” seems wrong.  We succeeded, the first time.  We made a wonderfully beautiful miracle named Isaac.  Nothing can ever change that.

Love you to pieces,

Mommy

Day 18

August 4, 2016

Dearest Isaac,

Daddy gave me a pleasant surprise this morning.  I remember being cuddled by Daddy in the middle of the night.  It amazes me the myriad of ways you have changed me.  For years, I have despised cuddling, but now? Now, I need that closeness.  Anyway, even in my state of semi-consciousness, I was panicked about daddy returning to work.  This morning, I woke up and rolled over, crushed that I didn’t have your Daddy to ease the wave of sadness I now wake to every morning.  So I grabbed my phone and sent him a panicky face.  As it happens, your intuitive Daddy knew I wasn’t ready to be alone yet.  He had woken up and decided he needed to stay home.  I was so epically relieved.  This does, however, mean he will be gone tomorrow.

The good news is that we did check some stuff off the to-do list.  We got Mowgli’s medicine, grabbed my mini cooper’s title, got some groceries, and even stopped to get some more embroidery floss to practice with.  Afterward, we stopped by the house I grew up in.  I didn’t make the connection until now, but I grew up on East Grand Oak Lane, a street named for its big strong oak trees.  Now, we’re planting oak trees for you.  Fitting, I suppose.  It was nice to show Daddy where I grew up.  We even r grabbed Pepper Mill cheesesteaks on the way home.

This afternoon, I practiced my embroidery.  You won’t be shocked that I am using your name for practice.  I told you I would write your name everywhere, and I plan to follow through.  I am waiting for nicer fabric to arrive for some more practice.

I have faced some harsh realizations today.  So far, since losing you three weeks (not sure how that’s possible(, I’ve had this weird sense of waiting.  It’s like I have the flu.  If I rest, hydrate and wait, eventually I’ll wake up feeling better.  With time, you forget  exactly how terrible the flu felt and life returns to normal.  That’s not going to happen this time.  No amount of time can fix this.  No amount of sleep and soup can fix you being gone.  Even a smudge on the wall from Daddy smushing a scary bug hurts me now.  I was laying right here nearly 7 months pregnant, and your daddy saved the day by getting rid of a scary bug on the ceiling.  Just seeing that smudge hurts me so badly because it reminds me that I was pregnant with you.  I miss you so much, and nothing can “fix” that.  I just want you back with every fiber of my being.  I wanted to give you the world and I never got that chance.

Love you dearly,

Mommy