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.

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.

When Bad Things Happen to Good People

While pregnant, I belonged to a Facebook group for women expecting babies in September.  It was a place we needed to deal with all of those pregnancy anxieties, to vent away the hormone induced frustrations.  Well, that’s how it started.  It became a group of over a hundred friends, brought together by similar circumstances.  We laughed together, comforted each other, and supported one another.  I can’t say enough how much I recommend a group like that.  Support from others is crucial during a time like this when your world feels like it is caving in on you, but it is just as helpful when you are excited, nervous, and looking forward to something so major in your life.

As soon as we lost Isaac, I felt like those women should know.  However, my husband deactivated our Facebook accounts so that we wouldn’t have to deal with letting that huge network know why I was suddenly not pregnant – why there was no baby.  The deactivation didn’t bother me, but it nagged at me over the next few weeks that this group of women didn’t know what had happened.  On Monday, in a moment of panic, I reactivated Facebook to make sure that I remembered the newly reset password (I had set it while still on A LOT of medication).  I took the chance to let the women know what had happened and promptly deactivated my account again.

Not long after, the group’s administrator, Jennifer, reached out to me.  She was hugely supportive and knew just what I needed to hear.  We talked for most of the day and into the evening.  Yesterday afternoon, it briefly occurred to me that I was surprised I hadn’t heard from Jennifer again.  However, she was looking forward to the birth of her sweet baby, and I hoped she was focussing on the “happy” instead of our loss.  Last night, another group leader reached out to me.  Wednesday, Jennifer lost her baby, Ariel.  Physically she is alright, but Ariel, her sweet and beautiful baby girl, is gone.

Jennifer did not deserve this.  No one deserves this. I had been writing something else for today, something about being out in the world.  Then a bad thing happened to a good person, and suddenly whatever I was writing didn’t seem important anymore.  Hopefully, I can be of some help to her in this terrible time.

I don’t know exactly what I believe about heaven, just that there must be something.  Whatever and wherever we go, at least Isaac and Ariel have each other.

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.