Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Heartache of Easter

Easter is always so incredibly difficult.  The first one after the loss of Elias was filled with so many mixed emotions.  And even with all of the progress I've made in my grief over the past 2+ years, I feel like holidays such as Easter just get more difficult to navigate.

Did I buy enough baskets?  Candy?  Toys?  Should we dye eggs?  Do the kids even care when they are so young?  Did I take enough photos with the kids all dolled up?  Should we go see the Easter bunny?

And aren't all of these things simply massive distractions from what the holiday is really about?

I think that's why I fixate on them.  I need the distractions. 
From the holiday and from my grief.

Many loss mamas express that they feel every day that goes by they feel further away from their babies.  Further away from that last time they felt them kick, heard their heartbeat, kissed them, and held them in their arms. 

I understood this sentiment in a way but not fully, as I never felt "further away" due to time passing.  In fact, it's more like every day that passes I am possibly one day closer to Elias, as when my time comes I hope with everything in me that we will be together again.

I hold onto this hope. 

Even still.

I do, however, feel that every day that goes by I am further away from God.

Two plus years out from when I still believed in Him with every fiber of my being.  I miss that so much.  I miss praying and not feeling silly about it.  I miss going to church with genuine faith in my heart.  I miss raising my voice in love and praise for something so much bigger than me.

Now, my prayers seem to be directed at my son.  I prayed to Elias when things were going rough, and he seemed to be helping me through.  I prayed to Elias to send me a little brother for Evelyn, and he did.  I prayed for him to be healthy, to be born alive, and for a little piece of my heart to be healed.

The prayers I aim at my son seem to be heard much more often than the prayers I ever directed at God.

I say all of this very tongue-in-cheek.  Obviously I don't really believe (nor did I ever) that people simply pray to God and get everything they ask for.  If that was the case, there would be no poverty, death, heartache, or anything horrible happening in the world.

That doesn't mean I don't still find irony in how things have unfolded.

And it doesn't mean I'm not allowed to still be So.Freaking.Angry. at times when I reflect on how strong my faith had been during my pregnancy with the twins - stronger than it had ever been - and how betrayed I felt by God when my son was stolen so swiftly from me.  I had been so worried about Elias, and people kept telling me, "Let go and let God." 

If I had believed less in God, maybe my son would be here.

Biggest.  Worst.  Irony.  Ever.

During family photos and holiday pictures, we like to have Elias represented somehow.  He is and will always be part of our family, so it seems fitting.  It helps to ease the pain of missing him, just a tiny bit.  It's a statement to him that we haven't fogotten him, nor will we ever.  In our most recent family portrait, we included a butterfly from Pottery Barn that my mom had purchased for his second birthday. 

When Evelyn visits Santa Claus, we always have her holding a stuffed animal in Elias's memory (or wearing a butterfly clip in her hair). 

Every Easter, Evelyn has her picture taken with the Easter bunny, and she holds this little blue stuffed bunny that we bought for Elias's remembrance shelf. It sits next to his urn except for the one day it gets to make an excursion out of the house to visit the Easter bunny. 

It warms and breaks my heart all at the same time to watch her hold it, play with it, snuggle, and kiss it.  I say, "Evy, will you take good care of little bunny today?" and she proudly proclaims, "YES."

I don't know if I will ever get back to that place of unwavering faith. I don't know how to even go about trying.

Tomorrow, I will be going to church.

I won't deny my children the chance to have the unwavering faith that I so miss from my own life.

Friday, March 22, 2013

"Our Secret", Part Five.

I don't think anyone really reads anymore, and I know I kind of ostracized myself by keeping so quiet about my rainbow pregnancy.  Nevertheless, I still come here to write for my own sake, and I don't like starting a story and not finishing it.  And before I finish our rainbow pregnancy / birth story, I want to say that one of my fellow loss friends did exactly what I did - HID her pregnancy (as much as she could) until the baby's birth.  It was really validating for me to be able to talk to someone who felt the same way I felt.  And when people had a strong shocked reaction to her posts on Facebook, she simply said, "It just didn't feel right to get everyone's hopes up."  Yes.  Yes, exactly that.

There is so much sadness and yet so much truth in that statement.  I shed a tear when I read it, because I knew that feeling to my very core.  That feeling of wanting to protect everyone else, shield them in case we happen to bring more death and pain into the world through our desire to build a family.

*              *                *

The beginning of "Our Secret" was much more fun.  I think that's partially why I put off typing the end.  We had a positive outcome ultimately, but oy, what we went through to get there.  He is every bit worth it.  But oy.

I posted in Part Four that I had a scare around 26 weeks or so.  And, well, that wasn't to be my last scare.  For some reason around holidays I would feel my anxiety really ramp up.  I guess it's the pessimist in me, the Lindsay who feels targeted by the world, the side of me that feels beat up by life.  Things would be going great, but then it would be Thanksgiving, for example.  We always host Thanksgiving at our home for both my family and my in-laws, so it's a pretty big deal.  I'd be checking on the turkey, mashing some potatoes, fixing my makeup, cleaning the sinks, and then suddenly start to PANIC.  I'VE BEEN TOO BUSY TODAY SO SOMETHING HORRIBLE PROBABLY HAPPENED TO THE BABY WHILE I WAS DISTRACTED!

That thought went through my head every so often. 
But then the baby would move several times, and I'd say, "Thanks, buddy."  And all would be well for a little while longer, at least.

I think a little part of me figured it would be JUST.MY.LUCK to not only have lightening strike twice (well, it would be three times, technically), but that it would happen ON.A.HOLIDAY.  Because the only thing worse than having the worst possible thing happen to you is having it happen on a day that's inherently supposed to be full of joy and celebration.  And, well, my warped mind was having a pity party and figured that if my luck was going to take a turn for the worse once again, it would probably happen on Thanksgiving just to give me some more sick irony to add to all of the previous ironies with the loss of my firstborn son.

I definitely knew I had PTSD when on Thanksgiving night, I could not feel the baby move, and I really started to freak out.  I started sweating and shaking and breathing fast.  It was horrible.  I lay awake for a half an hour, maybe forty five minutes, alternating positions, drinking ice water, doing everything I could to rouse him.  It was the second time I really feared he was gone.
Finally he woke up and then wouldn't fall back asleep - he had such a dance party in my tummy.

I felt anxiety around the twins' second birthday, which is a given.  I had an OBGYN appointment the day after their birthday, and when the doctor said baby was great, I said to him, "Now I know for sure that history isn't repeating itself at least."  How irrational is that???  I had this fear that my baby might die on the exact date my son had died.  Getting past that date was monumental.

Christmas.  Oh, Christmas.  This was possibly the worst Christmas ever (second to the one I spent in raw grief over the loss of Elias).  Our two year old daughter had a fever over 100 degrees.  It was terrifying.  She was miserable.  I actually thought, here we go again.  How horrible is that?  I thought, Here I am, weeks away from giving birth, and the universe is trying to snatch one of us away again so that we won't all be together.  AGAIN.

It was a really rough three or four days, but then she was better, and we were ready to celebrate the new year and all it would bring.  (Other than the anxiety of another holiday - and yes, you guessed it, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day royally freaked me out, in theory at least.  But baby was cooperating with kick counts, thankfully).

We were set to have a c-section at 37 weeks (pending good amnio results).  At 36 weeks and 2 days, I woke in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, and I could not feel the baby move.  Once again, I went downstairs to lie on the couch and try different positions, drinks, foods, etc.  After an hour and a half, I really thought he was gone.  I can't quite put into words how that felt.  I was panicked in a sense while also staying calmer than I ever thought I would be facing that kind of situation.  It was the longest he had EVER gone without having movement I could perceive.  I had to wake up my husband and our two year old daughter, because there was no way I could drive myself to the hospital.  It was 4 a.m.  I tried to feel him move the whole way there in the car but felt nothing.

When they got us in a room and put the monitor on, everything seemed to be going in slow motion.  His heart tones filled the room, and I immediately started sobbing, and shaking, and praying that he would stay healthy.  I heard the nurse say, "Mommy's crying happy tears, honey" a couple of times to my daughter, and I felt a pang of guilt that I hadn't considered how my reaction might upset her.  But there was no room for that consideration, because honestly, I really thought I'd just lost another child.

The doctors assured me there was no reason to deliver at that point.  I had another appointment in just two days.  At that appointment, my OBGYN told me I could be seen daily to allay my fears, as I was so scared of 36 weeks and 6 days, which was when I lost Elias.

I made it exactly 36 weeks and 6 days at which point my blood pressure spiked and I had a black floater in my vision.  I was sent to the hospital for monitoring, and my OBGYN met me there.  When he saw my blood pressure had stabilized, he wanted to send me home.  I could tell.  He held my hand and started to murmur reassurances.  I felt like I was going to crack.  It was all too much.  Thinking about going home and having to worry that something might happen in order to stay pregnant just for one more day did not seem to make much sense to me. 

Right then, a nurse came in and yelled that they found protein in my urine, and that was the point at which my doctor looked at me and said, "It looks like we're gonna be having a baby today!"

I am eternally grateful that my OBGYN, Dr. G, did not take any risks and simply chose to deliver.  I am also extremely glad that the on-call OBGYN, Dr. V, was there to assist with the c-section.  She apparently had a talk with Dr. G and told him that if I had been her patient, she would have planned all along to take the baby at 37 simply due to my history, and with complications starting to brew there was simply no point in taking the risk of sending me home at 36 weeks 6 days.  Dr. V was also the first person to show us our baby back when we thought we might be miscarrying very early on, and she was also the on call doctor when I had had a prior blood pressure scare (and had been incredibly understanding to our situation - not sure if I ever shared that here).  How poetic is it that the doctor to show us our baby on an ultrasound for the first time was also there to deliver him (not being my OBGYN and being in a practice of several doctors!)?  I thought it was pretty awesome.

Right before the c-section, Dr. G looked at me, put his hands on my shoulders, and said, "Maybe, for you, this is the easy part."


The only part of the csection that was terrifying for me was after they gave me the epidural they were dopplering for his heart beat before cutting into me...And they couldn't find it at first, or even after five seconds or so, which is basically a lifetime when you're THAT close to delivery.  Then a nurse yelled, "There it is!  Nice and strong, not distressed!" and they cut into me right then.

When Dr. G pulled William out of me and announced, "It's a boy!!!" it was so bittersweet, but more sweet than bitter.  Those moments truly belonged to my precious William, my second son.

My husband said it was that very moment that the light went back into my eyes that had gone missing ever since the fear had taken over.

My OBGYN had a tear in his eye when he delivered our son, and while nurses were still working on me, he walked over to me and kissed me on the cheek.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Busy. Just too busy.

Just popping in to lament the fact that I have had no free time at all to blog.  I am of course blessed beyond measure to have a healthy living newborn baby (ten weeks old already!) whose demands of course take precendence over all else.  I have also been back at work for a couple of weeks.  Everything there is snowballing, and I'm feeling extremely frazzled.  I have to take a personal day Friday to attend a wedding and a half a day on Monday for some training.  It takes HOURS of preparation to miss a day of work in my field.  It's more work than being at work, basically.  Then, I am preparing to interview for a new position, so I've had to update my resume, work on a cover letter, and basically do a lot of things that I haven't thought about since 2005.  It is a very odd thing to focus on something OTHER THAN family planning, getting pregnant, staying pregnant, grieving, etc.  My entire life has been consumed by pregnancy (and loss and/or aftermath) since 2009 when we started trying.  I am feeling so rusty professionally, and it is not so easy to balance everything, but I'm doing my best.

That said, I very very very much miss this space.  I miss commenting, getting comments, and being a more active blogger, although I've always been sporadic.

I would love to write the final part to "our secret" and share William's birth story here.

I would love to take the time to reflect and write about where I am grief-wise.

Both of those posts will have to wait, for now.

I think about all of you out there who have had losses, I think of you and your little ones on an almost daily basis, and I will never completely abandon this community, even when my life gets ridiculously busy.  But right now, I just need to focus on getting things done professionally. 

Spring break and summer break are both looming, and I can't wait to have a moment to myself (maybe?!).