Isaac’s due date was September 10, 2016. I counted down the days, weeks and months until that date on a regular basis from the moment it was given to me at an initial ultrasound. Isaac was still the size of a chocolate chip. When people would ask me, though, about my due date, I would say, “September 10th, but he’s likely to be induced the week before.” I was on Lovenox, and to ensure that I would not have any blood thinners in my system when I gave birth our MFM recommended induction at 39 weeks.
Our OB went back and forth on whether or not he would follow that advice throughout my pregnancy, but at my last visit, he finally settled on induction at 39 weeks. That would have been today. I can’t help but think about what we would have been doing right now. In fact, I wrote to Isaac last night about how I dreamed it would be today. His nursery would have been perfect. His bassinet would have been set up next to our bed. We’d be nervous but terribly excited.
For the past week, I had been getting increasingly anxious about this day and the week that will follow. September 10th will always be the date I counted down to and remember most distinctly, but today is the first time I should have been meeting our baby boy. Instead, he sits in a painfully small red velvet bag on top of one of our dressers. He’s been gone 7 weeks today.
There are a lot of things I wish I had planned for today, but I really could not get my act together. I didn’t know how I would feel when I woke up today. I don’t know how I will feel when I wake up on September 10th. I wish I had planned the tree planting for one of these days, but I didn’t.
It’s hard not to reflect back on the whole journey now. It seems like just yesterday it was January 3rd and I was trying to wake my husband up to tell him I thought I’d had a positive pregnancy test. For some reason, the first half of this summer feels like a lifetime ago. I wish I could say that I am feeling hopeful about our future right now, but I admittedly feel defeated. I should have been introducing our son to the world, but instead I am wondering when, if ever, my husband and I will be able to bring a baby home with us. Our home feels especially empty today.
Happy could have been birthday, Isaac.
Going through pregnancy I was always counting down the days until my next pregnancy related doctor’s appointment. While I always got anxious that something would be wrong at the next appointment, this approach made time pass. I think this is because it was a goal-oriented approach. Instead of counting down to the ultimate goal (having a baby), I broke it into mini targets. Sometimes I only had to make it a few days, but it was never more than 4 weeks at a time. For some reason, making it to 4 weeks ten times was a lot more manageable than making it to forty weeks once. Yes – they are both the same thing in the end, but time feels more manageable when broken down into smaller segments.
I didn’t make it to the ultimate goal in this case (that date will hit in about 12 days and I am intensely aware of it looming over me). Now we find ourselves starting over. We’re starting over with an unknown timeline. We don’t know when we could be expecting to have another baby. No one can promise a certain date at which we will be pregnant again. We still miss Isaac and we are still coming to terms with our loss and our grief. However, my husband and I agree that the thing that lets us keep going every day is that we are going to try again. We have the diapers, the crib, and the cute little outfits along with every other trendy baby gadget. We just don’t have our baby. If we wait for our grief to end to start trying again, we will be waiting our entire lives. Losing Isaac will hurt forever.
So, to pass the time faster, we are already starting the never-ending schedule of doctors’ appointments that will lead up to trying again. We have a ton of information flowing in about our loss. In terms of a future pregnancy (both getting pregnant and being pregnant), we have a ton of concerns to manage including Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, blood clotting genes, an autoimmune disease, and now Preeclampsia/HELLP Syndrome. Because we lost Isaac, we need a plan to manage all of this before we even begin trying to get pregnant. This Thursday we are going to see our fertility specialist. In a few weeks, when we have our final pathology report from Dartmouth, we’ll hopefully meet with a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist. Then we’ll find a high-risk OB to help come up with a treatment plan for a future pregnancy. Once all of that happens, it will be almost time to try again. I hope.
Truth be told, I am terrified. I am scared that someone is going to tell me that we have to wait longer than we’re expecting (4 months or so). I am scared we won’t get pregnant nearly as quickly as we did the first time (first round of treatment). I am scared that we won’t get pregnant at all. I am scared that something will go wrong again. However, I know Isaac would have wanted a sibling – lots of siblings. We want him to have siblings. Being scared or paralyzed by our grief isn’t going to make that a reality.
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.
July 31, 2016
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.