Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The boy who made it

This past Sunday, I became a godparent.

Daniel's nephew (well, my nephew too) was baptised. And we were asked to be his godparents.

There is a lot of history that I latch on to the back of this little child. He was born 3 and a half months after Alexander died.

Daniel's sister became pregnant with him literally days after we announced we were expecting our first child. She was 9 months postpartum with her second baby girl, and had talked about far into the future dreams of maybe having a thrid one day.  And 4 weeks later, she announced she was pregnant again.  She caught our baby bug.  He was the baby because of our baby, if you will.

This baby grew as my baby grew.

They would be 3 months apart.  At this time, Daniel had 4 neices, and only 1 nephew.  The last 4 babies in his family were girls.  I found out I was having a boy.  "If they're both boys, they'll be the best of friends... and cousins to boot."

His sister and I went through Christmas last year, pregnant. My first. Her third. But isn't it just awesome to have a pregnant buddy!?!

A bit of sarcasm above. Anyway...

I felt crowded.  A bit of my thunder was stolen. Someone is ALWAYS pregnant in this big Italian family... couldn't I just catch a break and be the only one in his direct family that was expecting a baby soon??

When Alexander was stillborn, my world froze.  I assumed his sister would remain pregnant forever with this 3rd baby of hers.  Or maybe, this baby would die too. I didn't want this to happen. It's almost as though my brain assumed it. "babies now die...". I couldn't wrap my head around her having a baby when mine was so simply gone. So perminemntly dead.

This baby was only ever around because Alexander was on his way.  This baby simply didn't fit anywhere in my future now that Alexander was gone.

We purposely took a trip at the end of May to Vancouver to get away for her due date. We got back on June 6th (her due date), and she was still pregnant. Blast!

She was now overdue.  And, she was GBS positive.  But that was nothing new to her.  She's had 2 healthy children while GBS positive.  But this time, she was anxious.  When we visited on the weekend (June 9) after our trip, gifts in tow, I could see her nerves were shot. 

The baby was born, a boy, on June 11th. Healthy, pink and alive.

My world crashed down all over again.  Not like it did when Alexander died... but it was gut wrenching to see his family embrace this boy... "finally another boy"... this little man... this son of theirs... this first son if theirs.  I was all alone with these feelings of tremendous sadness over his arrival.  Daniel's mother approached me the day we came to visit a week after his birth, and said, "I know this hurts, but see him once, and then it will all be okay...".  I was being ripped apart inside, seeing someone else live through all I lost. 

How did he make it, and mine not? How did the impossible happen, twice? (Impossible that mine died, and impossible that hers made it)  I didn't ever want him to die, I just couldn't ever imagine him to exist.

For months, I couldn't hold him. I didn't want to hold him. I didn't understand his existence.  I told Daniel I only saw an enigma.  Not a child.  I would look at him, and feel he somehow cheated death. But why him, and not mine?

Slowly the hurt associated with his birth faded.  He so evidently was someone elses child. He wasn't what I was missing.  But there was a hurt/let down feeling that followed me around when I thought of him... or knew I'd have to be around him.

He was the first baby born after Alexander. He will always be that first baby.



I don't know how or why...but my feeling towards this innocent baby changed. He somehow became Daniel's newest nephew, and not the heart breaking reminder that my son died. I no longer resented him, or his aliveness. He was just a boy... a different boy... he didn't have to be primarily that boy.

I've always loved babies... but over the past 5 years, I can honestly say I love his nieces and nephew. They've become my family. They've become my nieces and nephew.

Somehow, I found myself loving this one too.  This newest nephew.

We were approached in Auguest and asked to be his godparents. Our initial answer was no. We were 6 months out from losing our son... we simply couldn't bear the thought of being a "parent" of any kind to anyone other than our son.

We are extremely close with this sister (Daniel has 3). Her two daughters worship the ground I walk on, and I love them both to pieces. She was going to approach us after her second daughter was born, but she felt as if it would be pushing something on to our relationship - and she just didn't know if were we "ready" yet as a couple (Daniel and I). So she assured us this request to be her newest child's godparents wasn't out of pity.  It wasn't because we lost our son.  She truly wanted us as a part of her children's life, more so than an aunt and an uncle.

We sat with the decision for over a month.  And we ended up accepting.  It still didn't make complete sense to me why we were doing this.  I wanted to equally be an aunt all three of her children.  But eventually I let it all go, and let it all be love.

Here I am, 8 and a half months after losing my son.... 3 and half months pregnant with my second child... still sad... still missing my son ... but I am holding that baby, that boy, now 5 months old... ... and I feel nothing but love in my heart for him.


I didn't know if I'd ever get here...

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

A Mixed Bag

A lot has happened since I last posted.  I left it all a little hanging.  I've been trying to figure out how exactly to unravel here on this blog... but I cannot quite get into "compose" mode about one particular thing. 

So I'm just gonna spill.  Here's how my week ended...

My work called me just after 1pm on Thursday. 

I had a plan to ask if there was a chance for me to come back as full-time instead of management.  I was going to ask about a different location that was easier for me to commute to.  I had it all ready to go... but I'd get things started with my news....

I told them I was pregnant again.  I only wanted what's best for me the company, so if they have other plans for what they'd like to do with me, I'm open to suggestions.  But, I will be leaving in Spring 2013. 

And I was ready... for them to umm and ahh over making a quick decision without doing something illegal.  But I was ready to talk salary and contract structures... and so on....

They surprised me.  They said congratulations and expressed their happiness for me, and told me how glad they were to have me back.  They're "thrilled" to have me back for whatever time I'm giving, and they'll "take what they can get".  "Four months is better than not having you back at all."

I didn't even have the chance to dive into my plan B.  I chickened out.  I said words like, "great" and "I'm happy to be back" and we went on to talk about recent developments and changes to the company. 

I hung up on a bit of a high, but also a bit disappointed in myself.  All the pep talks I'd given myself to send that email and get the ball rolling, I had completely disowned.  The "plans" I comforted myself with about a lighter work load, and an easier location, I had totally abandoned. 

I'm such a coward. 

But I'm going to give it a go.  See how it feels.  And if I find myself ready to break - maybe then will I make all the requests I'd originally planned.  Or, I'll quit for good.

I'm scheduled back in 2 weeks. 

***

I met with a specialist on Friday.  She is "the best".  And I can now attest, she is the absolute best I've ever met.  She spent 2+ hours with us on Friday afternoon (which led into her evening) and touched on everything I was hoping.  She asked me more questions than any doctor one has asked me.  She asked about my over all health and my medical history.  She asked about every last detail during my pregnancy with Alexander.  She honed in on every day leading up to his death.  Asked me for an entire play by play of anything I felt necessary to mention.  She had a copy of his autopsy in front of her, and combed through it with us. 

She talked about pregnancy loss, and infant death like no other doctor I've come in contact with.  She was so knowledgeable.  She talked about my placenta, gave me examples with imagery so I could understand... and she made sense of a whole lot.  I think I understand more now why my son died the way he did than I ever have.  I know my previous OB went over the results with us when they were first released, but I now know the difference between a fairly good sounding educated guess when figuring out all the medical babble and a real insightful, conclusive explanation. 

She focused a lot on the findings in my placenta.  She went over the "scaring" and "clotting" which I was once told were normal findings.  In fact, from what she's seen in her career, they were signs of a very tired, very finished placenta.  Somewhat "normal" for 41+ weeks pregnant.  But it was a simple case of supply and demand.  My placenta had reached a point where it could no longer supply to the demands of an overdue baby, still very much alive and requiring a lot in the womb.  The GBS was a bit of a nail on the head, where the placenta became infected as well... and further restricted the placenta's duties. 

I'm glad that she took the time to explain this all to us, so we now fully understand her approach - specifically towards this subsequent pregnancy.

This doctor works with a different common denominator than other GP's and OB's.  She's had pregnancies end in their 2nd and 3rd trimester - with babies born dead or prematurely - more times than the average Dr. Joe.  It's all she works with... high risk...troublesome...abnormal pregnancies.  She's invested in her work.  She's invested in these babies she's saved, or said goodbye to.  Her eyes filled with tears when I told her my story.  She listened in disbelief when I told her I was 6 days overdue and worried because something didn't feel right, and was let go to carry on, on my own.  I was crying too.  Maybe my agony caused her to cry for me.  But whatever her tears were for, they were coming from her heart. 

She talked about this pregnancy.  She talked about working with many women who have carried a subsequent pregnancy after a loss.  She said words like, "I want you to enjoy yourself in whatever way you can, because you deserve it.  I know you love his baby, and you deserve to feel that with as much innocence as possible.  And I'm here to help you do that.  Because you deserve it."  I cried.  I cried, and cried and cried. 

She asked what we named our son. 

Her son's middle name is Alexander.  Her eyes brimmed with tears once again.

She has a plan.  She has a serious plan.  We're getting babe out.  Alive.  Whatever it takes. 

She talked about growth ultrasounds at 24, 28 and 32 weeks.  She mapped out my last 6 weeks with three appointments a week - a BPP, an NST, and a check up to swab for infections and/or GBS and draw blood and test my urine for additional screening.  And within that weekly check up, she's going to do a special ultrasound on my placenta. 

There will be no stones unturned.

But, I know.... I know I know I know..... this baby can still die.

However, I was once handled by a doctor who believed babies live in spite of the prenatal care received. 

I am now with a doctor who knows babies die.  Period.  So she'll be damned if she misses something.  And that feels good. 

Dare I say, she's given me hope that somehow, some way.... I will have a living baby. 

She did a round of swabs to check for GBS, and she's taking an aggressive route regarding prevention.  Although she doesn't feel the intrauterine infection is what caused his "ultimate" demise, she understands that it did in fact occur, and it can in fact occur again.  As rare as it would be, in can happen again.  She'd like me on amoxicillin for the remainder of my pregnancy to lessen the chances of an intrauterine infection.  I'm nervous to be on antibiotics for 23 weeks.  I'm going to call her tomorrow (or whenever I work up the nerve to have the conversation and question her approach). 

She checked the baby's heart rate with the Doppler.  She got it right away... then the baby "swam away".  She assured me with a litre of fluid vs an ounce and a half baby... sometimes the heart rate is hard to find.  She then struggled for about a minute to relocate it.  My heartbeat was the only one she could pick up.

"We'll do an ultrasound.  You'll have a look, and we'll get the BPM from there."  She wasn't worried about the baby.  But I could see that she was worried I'd be.

I wasn't.

We took a peek anyway.  She said she wanted to get a good look at where the baby was at.  There was a big screen in front of me.  I didn't have to crank my neck to see what she saw.  There are definite perks to being at a fancy speciality hospital that only specializes in high risk pregnancies. 

(But one big fat disadvantage got me there...)

And there the babe was.  Doing its own thing.  SUCKING IT'S THUMB.  Twisting and turning about.  I could clearly see hands, arms, feet.... nose, mouth and a big ole head. 

I was amazed at how much could be seen at 14 weeks.  But there s/he was.  In all their glory. 

She showed me the heart, the diaphragm and the lungs.  She said development is on track.

"..and it's too early to see if it's a boy or girl..."

"...we think it's a girl.. just a feeling."

"well... actually...it's there.  I can see."

OH MY GOD I WASN'T READY FOR THIS!

I asked.  She told us.  My heart soared. 

I don't want to say, because she said the anatomy scan will confirm in 4 more weeks... but she's 95% sure it is what it is.  She told us that girls have a "tulip" in between the legs, and boys have a "digit/limb/stick". 

She zoomed in, and there it was.

I won't say.  It could be wrong.  And I've already wrestled with my mind, trying not to imagine this baby one way or the other. 

Just stay alive, and I'll be set. 

I cried when we left the appointment.  Daniel too.  Both of us, trying to talk through our tears...red faced and a mess waiting for the elevators. 

We cried because we were relieved.  We cried because we finally had someone who listened to us, who cared enough to care, who really wants what we want.

We cried because we missed our son.  Because we wanted Alexander.  Because it was painfully clear to us that he just should not have died.  There was a way... there was time... he was a strong, healthy baby ...but somehow left alone without a chance to make it.  We cried because we thought of what could have been if this doctor was our doctor the first time around.  As impossible, and unnecessary as that would have been at the beginning, it probably would have brought us to the end with a live baby. 

In a cruel way, our emotional state was once again dragged through the mud while we learned how good this can all turn out.  It really hurt.

But at the same time, we were so happy to have this baby be given the chance to live.

We were crying, and smiling, and hurting all at once.  Luckily we were the last ones at the clinic. 

I felt extremely vulnerable that Friday evening. 

Because I trust this doctor.  Because I want this baby.  Because I believe in her approach. 

But I know it could all be over at any time... even at the very end. 

But....

But.

I'm trying to enjoy it while it's here.  For what it's worth.  A possibility?  A potential?  A maybe baby?



Every day, I'm convinced this baby is already gone.  I don't feel a flutter or a bump for half a day and I think "for sure today's the day it died."

I hope I always continue to be wrong.


Thursday, 8 November 2012

The Work Whoa's

Well,

... ...

.....          I just did it. 

... gulp.

I just sent an email to my HR department letting them know that I'm "ready" to discuss my return to work plans.

I'm not ready.

I hate this.

I wasn't supposed to come back like this.

I wasn't supposed to be coming back, now.

I went on my leave on January 23, 2012.  Used my entire 3 weeks vacation allowed for 2012, and started my maternity leave after that.  I was home, happily taking a break while I waited for my due date, February 18, 2012 to roll around to bring me my baby.

I've been working with my company for almost 8 years, and have been a stellar employee - if I do say so myself.  I was ELATED to be leaving for a year... and most likely was not going to return after my year off.  Not because I wanted to be a stay at home mom, or that I couldn't bear the thought of daycare, or that I didn't have alternative child care options.  I wasn't going to return simply because I felt done with this job.  It was supposed to be temporary I said 7 years ago and I've been looking for a good time to walk away.

And oh baby, this was the time.

I've been putting off making my decision for months about what to do about going back. 

When I was on that hospital bed, stunned out of my mind with how my life was now unfolding with a dead baby ready to be laboured and delivered... I told myself I was never going back.  AND I QUOTE --> N.E.V.E.R going back to this job. 

It's not a bad job, really.  The hours can be indefinitely long, and scheduling has to be flexible during high season (summer and the holidays), but ultimately, it was because it was something I didn't want to be doing that made it so unbearable, not because the job itself was all that hard...bad...unpleasant...draining...

But it certainly became those things as I looked at my staying put as my own self perpetuating hell.

Pretty heavy to say about work, right?  But there's gotta be other people out there that have had it up.to.here with what they do and where they work...

So it made me pretty sick to my stomach that I was entertaining the idea of going back.  But as the heavy fog of early grief started to lighten up... I was really trying to figure out what to do with this "in between" time before having another baby.  And going back to work always poked at me....

"... you could go back... just for a few months... earn another year off... make some money while you're at it...you're ABLE BODIED, mostly..."

I got an email back in August from my HR department.  They gently asked if I had plans to return to work before December.  They were trying to get all their eggs lined up for the holidays, and needed to know if I'd be back in my position to run my team for the oh so busy, commercially driven, pointless and sickening holiday season.  I really wanted to give them the silent treatment, and let them know that my status was still unknown and February 2013 was still my "return time".  I was a little miffed, as they wouldn't ask a mother to a living child if they'd be coming back before their scheduled return date. 

I had just miscarried, and didn't think I'd be pregnant again by December, so I thought what the hell... sure, I'll probably be back... I kind of want to ignore the holidays this year anyway... and what better way to do that then drown yourself in work?  So I replied to their email with a very loose November return to work date, and I haven't heard from them since. 

So here I am.  I've given in.  I'm pregnant again, and thinking about these next 5 1/2 months is driving me bonkers.  Maybe if I have a routine again, a "nine to five", I'll be less likely to drive myself crazy thinking about this pregnancy. ... Maybe not.

But nothing is set in stone.  I wrote my email in a very inconclusive manner. 

I sent my email seconds before jumping over to blog.ger and nervously composed this post.  I've been toggling back and forth to my inbox.  I just got a response.  They're going to give me a call around 1.  It's now 1. 

Jesus.  I thought I'd have a day or two to be irrationally unhinged about all this.

Guess not. 

Thursday, 1 November 2012

A little something

Tuesday, I went in for my "12 week" scan.

There is indeed a baby in there.  And, I'm told it's growing just fine... a smidgen ahead of schedule at that.

I will write more about that another day.  It's been a tough week. 

A lot of emotions I don't quite know how to talk about.

I am still hesitant to talk too openly about this pregnancy - in real life too...some people still don't know - as I feel no promise.  As affirming as that image was supposed to be on that screen, I still don't believe it. 

But, that is for another day...

When we got home on Tuesday, there was a package in our mailbox.  I had ordered this over a month ago... and it arrived on that day.

His name.  His birth stone. 

My son.



I still miss him. 

I still need him just as much as I did in those days when he was alive.  I still ache for him just as I did when I first came home, with empty arms, physically in pain from his absence. 

He is not in my belly, somehow gestating again.

He was not in the mailbox, somehow attached to this necklace. 

He is gone.  Forever. 

It still floors me.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Spoken Word Blog Round-up

(Note: this post and video was written and recorded on Friday October 26, 2012)

Well, I finally did it.  After a lot of stewing about, I finally participated in Angie's spoken word blog round up.

It will most likely be a little underwhelming for most who watch.  I picked my first entry, which is all about a miscarriage I had back in August... but I really didn't have much to choose from, and I did a run through of a few posts earlier this week... and it was taking me 15+ minutes to read them!  I'm a better public speaker when I'm telling some sort of story..reenacting a bit... if I'm strictly emoting, and unzipping my heart for conversation sake... I do better with a person (or people) in front of me (and not so much with the lovely camera in face approach). 

It was hard for me to select a post.  When I read more emotional posts, I felt I couldn't really "go back" to when I wrote it.  I could "go back" in my heart, but it wasn't reading well in my presentation.  My tone of voice was coming across as a ramble, and my reading them felt very disjointed - and ultimately I just couldn't get anything under nearly 20 minutes, and I was certain I'd be boring anyone attempting to watch as I was starting to bore myself - and I almost bailed on the entire thing yesterday.

I finally realized that my iPad has a good set up for recording (I was doing test runs on my black.berry the other day, and it was falling all over the place)... and here is the result.  One try... with a tickle in my throat almost the entire time.  And I think I said "open up my story about my son's loss" and what I meant was "open up about my story about losing my son.." 

video



I hope after this reading, who ever follows this blog feels like they've "met" me a little better.  I watched a few of the entries posted recently, and I cried along with the participants.  I got cold feet, and suddenly felt like my attempts were futile, and I'll have to give it another go with a better post next week.  But I'm not sure I'll follow through.

I know when I read last years entries (over this summer as I picked through some of Angie's archives), I felt more connected to who loses babies.  Every day, common, wonderful, beautiful people.  They were no longer just words on a page, and stories I've read from "authors".  They were people, living in homes across the world. 

So even though my entry isn't all that interesting, or isn't even all that emotionally fuelled (it was at the time of writing it!)... I just wanted to participate so I could carry a bit more of an identity in this community.. and maybe make others who are new to this baby loss world feel like they too have a better understanding of who loses babies. 

I did.  Me.  Hello.  I'm so sorry to meet you like this. 

***

back in real time...Here I am... still trying to get this blasted thing up!  I am very technically challenged, and waited nearly 4 hours for this video to load on Friday night.  Daniel came home, and checked the size, and it was over 330,000 megs!  My recent cat vid's were 30,000 megs, and took less than 10 minutes to upload.  So Daniel shrunk the video, failed, tried a different program to convert, and spent way too much this weekend trying to get it to work, and now it's finally working. 

I saw that my video wasn't going to be synced to the day it was posted, so on Saturday I wrote somewhat of an explanation, and touched on the fact that another 27th has come and will soon be gone.... and then my computer crashed without saving the changes to the post.  My updates to the post along with all the lovely things I said were flushed.

So I will try to pick my brain, and reflect on my lost words from the other night.

I definitely got distracted from my end of the month funk with trying to get myself involved in this project.  When I had some quiet time at home, I'd try to set up my phone to get a good shot for a good read.  By the time the days came to an end, I had only done a dry run through - off camera - of a few posts.  I watched the date and the 20's blew by, and I knew the end of the month - along with my dear 27 - was fast approaching.  But I felt a normalcy about it... an okay-ness

I was going to read "thank god he was ok".  I wanted to connect with the happier residual effects of pregnancy and having a baby.  I wanted to think about memories, and closeness, and talk about him while he was alive.  I tried setting up my phone, and did a "take one".  I cried, and smiled through the entire thing.  I checked my phone - it had stopped recording.  I was frustrated, and knew that another read through would come off as staged.  I almost threw in the towel.  So, Friday midday I on a whim, set up the iPad and picked my first post..and just read it and tried not to sound like a fool.

Anyway... on Saturday I watched the footage back (of what I'm now posting)... and I feel unrecognizable to myself.  I can see I was obviously in a more positive state...ready to speak all 'as-a-matter-of-fact' like about anything.  Not really all that down about anything.  I'm showered, and dressed for pete sake - and not because I have to be!  I don't know where that energy is today... I really don't know if I feel this is a good representation of myself.  I don't think I'll have the opportunity to do this again - I have a busy 2 weeks with my sister coming in from out of town - so this will have to do. 

Until next year... when maybe I'll get it right...

alas... I Will Hit Publish!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Comfort in a Cat


I have a cat.  His name is Gabriel.  I actually have 2 cats... but Gabriel is my cat.

He's always been a snuggler.  Especially when I was pregnant last year.  He'd make his way to my lap...looking for his spot.  But as my belly grew, I couldn't really accommodate his need to constantly be ON me.  I was trying to get him used to a little distance anyway, with a baby on the way and all.  I didn't want him in SHOCK when he didn't have first dibs on my lap space.

When we moved into this house at the beginning of the year... it took him some time to adjust.  He doesn't do well with change.  So the move was big for him.  I've moved three times with him before, but it was always from apartment to condo, so it only ever took him a few weeks to adjust.  This time, moving to an entire HOUSE was a bit of a big deal.  Plus, he had a new set of rules to now follow.  He wasn't allowed in the bedrooms (again, preparing his behaviour for when baby would arrive) and I usually found him sleeping in the dining room, tucked under the table on a chair.  On random nights, he would do his best to find a sliver of couch near me, or find space around my legs as my fully grown belly took up most of my personal snuggle space. 

After Alexander was stillborn, and we came home empty handed, the cats seemed unfazed.  We had only been in this house for 6 weeks when my pregnancy ended.  I sensed Gabriel could feel the emotion turmoil living with us, but essentially nothing in his reality changed.  And as freaked out as he still was over every knock at the door, and creek in the floor boards, his only response was to do what he always does when he feels I'm down - just be there for me. 

But I couldn't have anything of the sort.  My belly was all broken and floppy, and having him cuddle me was somewhat of a cruel reminder that I didn't have a baby occupying my environment and I was essentially "free" for him to snuggle.  I was too heartbroken to have some stupid cat claiming me, using me.  Jeez, how dare he!

He had tough tendencies to break.  Or, maybe he just loves me that much.  But he stopped looking for my lap, and found places on the floor next to the couch, or on our ottoman we were substituting for a coffee table... or at times, especially after a few weeks out when I'd be on the couch 24/7 with lap open (skimming articles and blogs on stillbirth) he'd find a spot right beside me. 

During the summer, as usual, we had less contact.  It's hot, and he sheds and we both would rather not share body heat during this season.

But I wondered if he'd still be his regular snuggly self if I allowed it.  After all, he might hold a grudge.  I had a monster belly for about 3 months, and then for a good 6 months after that I denied him his lap space. 

But lately...coincidentally... he's been all love.  I'm pregnant again, and a part of me feels like he knows, and he's doing his best to love on me hard while he still has the chance. 

Earlier today, I was channel surfing on mute and browsing emails on my ipad (I know, another tough Tuesday) and he slowly nudged his way on to my lap.  I was feeling bloated and cramped up, so rested the ipad on my stomach so he couldn't knead his way into pissing me off.  So he happily found a spot balancing awkwardly on my thighs.  He purred deeply from behind my ipad, and I couldn't help but feel like he was telling me he'd be gentle if given the change to sprawl out. 

He laid down, and started kneading the air around my belly.  He was cuddling his head right into my belly while his pawns spread and flexed their way into some sort of hugging gesture. 

Yeah yeah.. I have a cat, in every sense of the definition... but today just felt extra oozy and cozy!  I grabbed my phone, and tried to capture the sweetness... but of course, he saw the device in my hand, and acted less adorable.  I tried whispering sweet nothings to him to induce a little more cat love... but he was pretty ready for a good cat nap after his little pet himself silly on a mushy tummy fest.



video


8 years of cat love from this guy. 

There was a time after Alexander died that I resented having him around.  I couldn't find any enjoyment in his company, and I simply couldn't love him the way I used to. 

Whatever stage of my grief induced those feelings has since (mostly) passed.  We have old love for each other... and I'm happy he didn't give me reason to want to kick him to the curb after our baby died.  I've come terribly close with my other cat, and Sam is still on thin ice most days, but Gabriel and I are in it until the end.  And as cheesy as this sounds, I'm thankful that he's around. 

(Mind you, if he does ANYTHING to make me feel like our next baby's well being is in jeopardy, in.a.heartbeat, he's gone...or up for adoption... or will be locked in the basement!, but I've explained that to him... and I'm pretty sure he gets my drift ;))

And yes, in this video, you can see my belly roll, and humongous pregnant boobs.  And I'm wearing smurf pyjama pants!!

video
I know it's probably overkill, but he snores too!  Again, he was much louder before I fumbled with my phone, and woke him up a bit.

P.S I hope the video upload works!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Our Wave Of Light

 We lit up the night with love and light




For all the baby A's, B's, C's, D's, and E's .....all the way to the baby Z's
 
 

 We are here because of one special A
 

 Alexander David
 
 
 We felt the love that fell upon us
We had no will
It has become us since that blessed day
 
 
 We hugged
We cried
We were warmed by the light
We felt the glow
 
 
 
 He joined us
In spirit
 
 ... I'm just so sure of it that he did
 
 
To our perfect son
First
Always
We love you

Monday, 15 October 2012

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awarenss


When October crept in… I was filled with desires to take part in so many projects, and events that were taking place all over the web.   But after being totally caught off guard in the first 3 or 4 days and finding myself in a deeper depression than I anticipated, I stopped dead in my tracks.  I was overwhelmed with the feeling of not being able to do anything “right”.  I didn’t feel at all prepared, or inspired by myself.  I wanted to do so much, but I didn’t know how to jump in.  I saw Carly’s Capture your Grief project pop up on my reader, as BLM’s I follow were participating this year.  I felt so behind, and having already missed the sunrise on October 1st (and having several days of overcast skies following), I felt I missed my chance.  I know there were no rules, and any which way one wanted to go about participating would be absolutely fine – but I felt like I couldn’t even be a good BLM after all is said and done. 
This weekend, I talked to Daniel about what to do on October 15th.  I told him I wanted to email everyone we knew… and ask them to light a candle.  Not only for us, but for ALL the children gone too soon and for the families that miss them every day.  I talked to him about how lonely and isolated I feel, and it’s becoming somewhat my fault because I keep myself so far removed from everyone else’s life.  I talked to him about how I didn’t, and don’t feel any support from his extended family.  (He has 30 cousins, and just as many aunts and uncles living within a 1 hour radius… and the most we got were a few phone calls the week after we lost our son).  I told him how I felt his family didn’t know how to deal with tragedy, and in typical Italian fashion – you go to church, pray for who you love, and then mind your own business but talk about it all behind closed doors.  I’m sure our loss went through so many circles of inner family gossip, and it all doesn’t even compare to the lack there of that actually made its way to our reality. 
I thought maybe I sort of caused this.  Initially I tried to not have anyone outside of a few very close family members find out about our loss, as I felt so embarrassed, and heartbroken – and I only expected everyone to down play our loss – so I didn’t invite any sort of support to our door. 
Everyone was having children left and right.  As often as someone would sneeze, anew pregnancy was announced and without fail – a new baby would arrive in 9 months.  One of Daniel’s cousins had a baby girl on February 15, 2012… another cousin had delivered her first in late October 2011.  His sister was due with her third in June of 2012…and here we were, announcing our son was stillborn.  Because I wasn’t able to carry on as everyone so easily did with their new babies, and have everyone pour over our new arrival on FB… I felt no one would validate me as a mother.  No one would see Alexander as a part of our family forever.  I hid away for months, and had Daniel do all the talking.  Any time a phone call would come in… I’d get cross with Daniel, and say, “stop telling everyone I’m ok!” 
But that’s what they did in his family.  Bad things happen.  People call and ask if you’re OK.  And you say you are.  End of story.  Didn’t seem as if anyone was willing to venture deeper into what this loss actually meant in our lives.
Looking back, I thought, maybe I didn’t give anyone a chance.  Maybe they were too ill equipped to deal with such a monumental loss in someone’s life.  Maybe it’s time I tell them, and invite them in, and let them know it’s OK to say sorry, and to let us know they are thinking of us. 
And ask them, to please think of our son. 
After procrastinating the entire Saturday away, last night I decided the time was now or never. 

So I wrote this…

Dear Family and Friends,
Please bear with me as I stumble through this email. This isn’t easy for me to talk about, and address large groups while doing so.
October is Pregnancy and Infant loss awareness month. I will be the first to admit, had I not had a baby, or lost a baby, I probably would not know this fact. It was sometime in the late 1980’s that October was declared pregnancy and infant loss awareness month to honor this very sad and tragic subject matter. Many countries around the world, England and Australia to name a few, have since taken this month under their wing as well.
Lots of rituals and ceremonies around the world take place for grieving families to take part in, to give them the space and support to honor their children. October 15thspecifically is the day when most ceremonies take place. Families release balloons, butterflies, lanterns or just gather to light a candle and say a prayer. And you don’t have to venture far on the world wide web to catch a glimpse of said ceremonies.
Daniel and I are still “new” at this. It has been 7 and a half months since we had to say good bye to our first born son after a horrible twist at the end of my pregnancy lead him to his demise while I was 41 weeks pregnant. We still miss him. We are quite certain that no matter how many months, years, or decades go by…the missing will still be there. It gets softer, yes. It becomes more bearable to take part in everyday activities and celebrations, yes. But he will always be the missing part of our family.
I have met hundreds of women and families as I’ve made my way through this post loss journey. There are literally THOUSANDS of people who have had stillborn babies that are somehow plugging along, doing “life” as best they can. These people are not from your grandmother’s generation. These people didn’t lose their babies because they were denied proper health care or come from third world countries. These people didn’t smoke, or drink, or practice any type of risky lifestyle. These are just normal people, in real time, who lost their children for the same reason I did. And no matter how you look at it, it’s no good reason at all.
I don’t think the average person thinks about how many people actually lose children. I for sure didn’t! I knew that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage…. But I did not know that 1 in 150 pregnancies end in stillbirth or neonatal death. That seems like a small percentage. It’s less than 1%! Most people will go unscathed by those odds. But… imagine how any people you pass in your day. At the bank, in the grocery store, driving to work, walking to school. It’s possible that at least one person you’ve brushed shoulders with on a weekly basis has lost a child. Nearly every day, dozens of people brush shoulders with me…
It’s a taboo subject. It’s unheard of in this day in age. People don’t talk about it… but let me tell you when it happens to you (and I truly hope it does NOT ever) the stories come out of the wood work. It still happens. Just because the statistics have gone down significantly in the past century and you only ever hear about it in movie plot lines, and from your brother’s co-workers friends grandmother and it almost seems too unreal to be true…the pain is still real. The unimaginable life that has to be lived after your child dies is still someone’s reality. EVERY DAY. And I wish with my all my wishes that when it does happen, they do not feel as if they’re alone.
Women and families that experience stillbirths or neonatal deaths do go on to have more children. But the ones we have lost do not in some way disappear. They do not vanish from our heart space, or fall off our motherly radar. We need them, miss them, and want to mother/parent them as much as any child we will ever bring into this world.
On this October 15th, mothers and families around the world come together in a special way to honor their lost children. They will light candles and say prayers. We release love and light up into the heavens. We say their names, and think of all the families whose hearts have now been constructed to love a child that they cannot hold.
Many ask for their friends and family to participate in this celebration of remembrance to strengthen the “Wave of Light” around the world for the lost children. And that is why you are finding my email in your inbox tonight.
Tomorrow is October 15th. And at 7pm, families around the world will be lighting a candle for their children, gone too soon. I ask that you not only think of our son, but all the babies gone too soon. And send healing prayers, and love to all the families suffering this unthinkable loss.
I cannot send you updates of my 7 and a half month old son…I cannot tell you how he is standing or babbling all day long… I cannot tell you that he is sleeping through the night, or keeping us up and that’s why the bags under our eyes are so heavy these days. I cannot parent him as my heart begs to do so every minute of every day. But I can ask you to remember him.
If possible, any time tomorrow, please light a candle for our son, Alexander David. And remember that he was here, born into this world on February 27th, 2012… and he will always be our first born beloved son.
And to ask for a step further… for my own contribution to spread the “wave of light” around the world… I ask that you take a picture (cell phone camera, pocket cam... anything or any quality) of your candle with a simple message across the bottom – whether it be photo shopped on or actually included physically with the candle – “Love. From (your [first]name[s])" or "Remembering Alexander. Love, from (your [first]name[s])". I may not be the only person you know that has lost a child to stillbirth or neonatal death. Please include any names or children you are lighting the candle for.
I would love to share your wave of light with all the grieving families I’ve come in contact with over the past 7 months.
I try to break free from this isolating and lonely space that losing a child can put you in. I encourage you to tell my story to those who are in need. To those who too, have lost a child. I ask that you forward this email to ANYONE (your family and friends) you feel would want to take part in the “Wave Of Light” to honor and remember all the babies gone too soon. And please, if you know anyone that has lost a child to stillbirth or neonatal death (or to anything for that matter), tomorrow, please let them know you are thinking of them and remembering their babes – gone way too soon.
Thanking you for taking the time to read this email – and if possible, for lighting a candle tomorrow. And thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for your continued love and support in this very trying time.

Love,

Veronica and Daniel
***

I did the best I could with what I have.
I have received a few responses… and someone has already sent me a picture of the candle they lit to honor all the babies gone too soon.
I think one of Daniels sisters forwarded our message off to a bunch of his extended family… and the “Wave of Light” might have been over looked.  In her message, she said, “if you can’t light a candle, please say a prayer for them tonight”.
(often times, people don’t read “forwards” in detail…and just take the gist from the sender – oh well…)
I’ve since got a few responses saying that Daniel and I will be in their prayers tonight.  So the wave of light will be from within.  And my hopes to posts a bunch of pictures of lit candles from my friends and family might fall a little flat. 

But I did what I could.

***
There’s an amazing energy I feel today.  I feel a tremendous sense of loss, but the energy of togetherness and always remembering gives me a sense of peace. 

Remembering all of our children today.

Alexander David.  We think of you every day – but today especially as we honor your life, gone way too soon.

Friday, 5 October 2012

All Over the Place

This past weekend Daniel and I, along with a handful of family and friends, attended my sisters’ wedding.  It was a 5 hour drive out of town, and we had to book 2 nights in a hotel because no matter what way we looked at it – we couldn’t make it in and out in one day.  And just a few weeks before the wedding, my sister informed me that she wanted me at the rehearsal dinner as she included my brother and me in the ceremony … and with the following day starting at 1pm, and the reception at 6pm, it sealed the deal with 2 nights at the Best Western, and us being 350$ poorer.  But it’s my sisters’ wedding… so come on, right?! Nickels and dimes! Right?!

Well, it didn’t help that I was completely under enthusiastic about the whole thing.  Leading up to the weekend, I had a lot of “I just don’t give a damn” feelings.  I felt incredibly sad, yes.  We were supposed to be planning this, and accommodating our time around our 7 months old. So the entire ordeal that was her wedding felt very empty to me.  I expressed my feelings to my mother, and brother… but they gently tried to help me see things from another perspective.  “It’s about her.  It’s her day.  One doesn’t have to do with the other”.  I get it.  I know that.  But still.  God, but still.
We were able to get ourselves packed up Friday morning, and I found myself feeling…OK.  Kind of uncomfortably OK.  I was just going through the motions, and got ‘er done.  The drive in was good.  I surprised myself with only one stop needed to pee, and we got to her in-laws farm for dinner.
And it started to unfold.  This feeling.  I’m not jealous, I insisted upon myself.  I’m not bitter.   I couldn’t put my finger on it.  My sister showed up over an hour late, and this melting pot of guests just swirled around me and I felt like I could jump out of my skin, I was so uncomfortable.  I eventually isolated myself to this gazebo style outside room attached to the back end of their farm house, and just waited to be summoned for my part in the rehearsal.  I was a horrible pile of unpleasant hormones and emotions.  My mother found me, and didn’t even have to ask the question.  She knew I was pissed off, and DYING to leave.  The dinner invitation stated 5PM with the bride leaving at 8PM.  It was now 6:30, and NOTHING had happened.  There were sorry excuses for food randomly scattered throughout the house, and people were getting too drunk to care that dinner wasn’t even in sight.  Call me a snob, but  if I invite people over to my place, or eek, host a dinner party, I make sure people are happy.  Everyone was hungry.  Everyone was reaching for conversation, and everyone that wasn’t directly involved with the wedding or the wedding party didn’t know what the eff was going on.  So, on top of my complete disappointment that I wasn’t being hosted to my satisfaction, I was a messy pile of my own grief.  I shouldn’t be here.  This is stupid.  Everyone’s life is so fucking SIMPLE.  I don’t even know who KNOWS about me.  Fuck all of you who do know, and are not giving me some sort of sentiment.  I dunno, I’D say something, do something, if I knew.  I’m not going to make the effort to play normal.  I’m not going to MINGLE!  Could you imagine?? “how many dead children do you have? Oh, none?  Must be nice.  What’s that like??”
My sister planned her entire wedding.  She budgeted everything.  Singlehandedly hired everyone needed.  Picked the time, place, colours, dresses, everything.  It’s been 18 months in the making.  But really, she’s been playing this day over in her head for over 10 years.  I knew that.  It was evident when she rallied us all up, and had a custom made itinerary, full page – front and back, with different colours, fonts, text sizes –  to read from for something that was going to be less than 10 minutes in real time. 
And it hit me again.  This feeling.  Look at her.  Look at everything.  This is all so pointless.  This all means nothing.  ANYONE CAN DO THIS.  This is nothing special.  This is nothing worth celebrating.  A pretty awful way to feel about your sister getting married.  But I couldn’t help it.  I was getting so frustrated with myself that something so important to her was only coming off as something pointless and trivial to me.
Pesky details regarding the ceremony were finally behind us, and it was now time to eat.  IT WAS 7:30.  I checked out the spread.  Cold cuts, cubed cheeses, iceberg salad, and Kaiser rolls.  What-the-fuck.  This is what took an EXTRA 2 and a half hours to prepare?!?!  I was shaking I was so hungry.  But the lonely, pathetic rolled up ham slices had no appeal to me.  I needed out of there, ASAP.  Daniel fixed himself and plate, and wolfed it down and we got the hell out of farm country and to our hotel in downtown Ottawa. 
(Side note:  I love farms.  I love the country.  We had several close family friends growing up who lived on farms, and I have wonderful memories playing in haystacks and barns.  Wearing wellies and walking through poop while petting pigs, cows, horses and chicks.  LOVED IT ALL.  I have farm living associated with fresh foods, colourful spreads, corn on the cob, potato salads, and more.  We had BBQ’s out on the farm that could feed an army.  So… my farm living expectations were not met in my experience above.)
The next morning:

The feeling came to fruition.  I got it.  I understood all that I’d been feeling.
This was all happening for them.  All the planning, and budgeting, and WAITING… it was all finally happening for them.  And there was NO RISK of it being taken away.  They wanted something, they worked for it, and they were in a matter of hours going to get it.  How about that?  Just like that.  And for me and Daniel, it just didn’t. 
“They’re gonna get theirs.  And we didn’t get ours.  That’s why today sucks.” I said to Daniel as I was putting on my make up.  “It's not like they had to survive anything to get here, or do anything particularly HARD to achieve this.  And it’s just so incredibly unjust, I could be sick.”
I know it’s a wedding, and not a child.  But so what.  They’ve been gushing over this for 18 months.  And a full 9 months of those 18, I was pregnant.  I was a very quiet pregnant woman.  I didn’t go ahead and jump into conversations and make everything about my expected arrival…I would sit and listen, and comment on how great everything was going to be on that day (their wedding day), but I’d have my own dialogue in my head.  You’ll have the wedding you always wanted, and I’ll have my child.  Way more exciting, much more anticipated, WAY-BIGGER-DEAL.  And there I was, the morning of her wedding…in the hotel room, just myself and Daniel, facing this nauseating injustice.  I didn’t find anything about the day worth celebrating.  So what?  She’s getting married.  ANYONE CAN GET MARRIED.  As if it’s HARD?!  And I know too much about their union to be expecting monumental, against all odds type years to unfold. 
I’ll bottom line it.  Even though my sister would probably SPIT ON ME in disgust for summing up her marital intentions in this way, but….
She’s almost 31.  All of her high school friends have been married for 5 plus years now, and 90% of those friends have a child.  And, a hand full of said friends are working on their second.  My sister has been in 2 long term relationships that ended because the guys didn’t want to get married “too soon”.  My sister summed them up to be “not marriage material” and was forced to move on… because her end goal has always been to be married and to have children.  AND THOSE ARE NOT BAD GOALS TO HAVE!!  But in my sisters’ case, it seemed more about the end result and less about WHO she reached it with.  Her husband is 24 years old.  He’s younger than our little brother.  She’s on more than one occasion called him by my brother’s name.  She says it’s because they both start with “M”.  ooookaay then….

Now that that’s out in the open, you all can formulate your own opinions. 

Truth of the matter is before I got pregnant… while I was pregnant… I was completely indifferent to what my sister did.  As long as she’s really happy.  That’s all that mattered to me.  But something about the way that this life is all unfolding has got her life really rubbing me the wrong way.  Not fair, not fair, not fair.  I was off doing my own things, living my own life… and now I cant help but feel like I’m desperately needing to play catch up.  She got what she wanted.  She got her happy.  I’m still chasing mine…to no avail.
Anyway…
The ceremony was fine.  There were a few mistakes that I’m sure my sister will NEVER be able to let go once she gets off her wedding day high (music was choppy, and not synchronized.  The song they arranged to walk down the aisle as husband and wife was in the wrong spot when they began their stroll.  Whatever, nothing’s perfect.) 
She threw a little private party for the wedding party and the bride and grooms siblings and dates.  Free booze.  And yes, everyone got all loaded up before the reception.  I for one, stood out like a sore thumb.  I stayed by Daniel’s side as he loosened up, and started to mingle after his third gin and tonic.  I did my best to join into conversations while they were in full swing, not leaving any openings for the dreaded question “so, what have you been up do lately?” 
She had a custom guest book made by Shutterfly.  She had pictures of all 100 guests, and started to pass it around at this pre party for everyone to sign.
I flipped to the back.  I remember her saying she didn’t want anyone to write anything on the back pages as they were in remembrance to those who were no longer with is.  There were pictures of my two grandmothers, and my father.  And that’s it.  “Forever in our Hearts” was written along the bottom of the page.  I could have ripped it out.  What a fucking hack.  MONTHS ago, my sister asked if I wanted her to make something to memorialize my pregnancy with Alexander.  I emailed her back telling her I wasn’t ready and was unable to think clearly about anything like that… but I definitely wanted to do SOMETHING.  And I wrote the line, “9 months in my belly, forever in my heart” as something I wanted to incorporate in a collage, or in a frame…  So when I saw that last page, I could have stopped the show right there.  But I didn’t.  I calmly found my picture, and wrote some cheezey, meaningless sentiment and signed my name.  But you’d better bet that I’ll ask about his absence that day in that book.  Especially after she’s claimed Alexander is an actual absence in her life, and that she thinks of him and misses him in all the ways an aunt would miss their nephew. 
My brother and Daniel walked out of there a little shitfaced.  6 drinks each in just over an hour.  Yeah.  Smart moves on their part.
On to the reception.  That was probably the more tolerable part of the evening.  My brother was pretty persistent with his jokes, and pokes towards the happy couple.  He hasn’t swallowed one bit of their relationship since day one… so this wedding has been front and centre to all things he makes fun of these days.  And hearing him let loose at our table was just what I needed.  
And then my sister said her speech.  And she said a few things that I had to shut out, and not let replay in my mind as reasons to hate her.  She talked about how she looks forward to facing “the challenges” as a couple that life will bring.  She talked about how she’s “been through so much and if it weren’t for Mr. new husband, she doesn’t know if she would have made it”.  She dedicated a part of her speech to my mother… on being a mother… and how that is her lifelong dream.  And how she “knows” what being a good mother means because of my mother. 
I know you don’t have to have a dead baby to know what it’s like to be a mother, or want to be a mother.  But that part of her speech hit a chord with me.  Just let me be the first to flick her on the forehead and tell her to shut the fuck up as she hasn’t a clue as to what she’s talking about.
Dinner was OK.  I’m allowed to be picky and insulting.  My baby died, and I’m gonna call a thing and thing.  The soup was mediocre, and the chicken breast was dry.  It was cheaply catered food.  There, I said it.  La dee da, my baby died, and your wedding sucked and your food was bland.  HA!

The reception plowed through the evening and the dance floor finally opened up.  I got out there with a few of my aunts, and older family friends (as all the occupants on the dance floor under the age of 40 were all the grooms old high school and current university friends… and I didn’t know ANYONE) and did some pretty mean side to side moves.  I had really sparkly shoes on, and I couldn’t deny them a dance floor.  They played the typical wedding party dance songs… YMCA, Macarena, SHOUT!, but the majority of the play list was very much catered to the groom’s generation… lots of top 40, and songs I’d rather not admit to knowing. 

Finally, a few slow songs rotated on the playlist, and I dragged Daniel out of his chair, and we swayed, hugging, and missed our son.  I sang “Don’t wanna miss a thing” and “Always” into his ear as I felt him cry while nestled in my neck.  It was the most bittersweet and heartbreaking part of the night.  But I couldn’t help but feel ever the more in love with him.

We went back to our hotel room at around 1:30AM.  There were still a few people hanging on, including my brother and his date/friend, but for the most part, we were of the last group of people to leave.  When we got back to our hotel room, Daniel broke down.  He told me how much he missed our son.  He told me how much he felt like he was out of place all night, and not a single person could tell.  He told me how celebrating other people’s happiness is impossible after what we’ve been through.  He told me how his heart was breaking every time he looked over at my mother, and caught her alone at her table in between songs, and just thought how she wouldn’t have had a moment to herself on this day of Alexander were here.  I thought that too.  I looked over at her, too, a lot throughout the night.  I wondered if she was missing his presence as much as I was.  I danced with her a few times, and she saw the ache in my heart as I tried to enjoy the evening.  She said, “Don’t worry, the next big party will be for your baby’s Christening”.  I just felt defeated.  God, she tries, and I know it.  But I just wanted her to tell me she missed him. 


Here are a few shots of us after the ceremony.  It was windy, and overcast skies.  My sister ran off with her photographer to get all the pretty shots of bride and groom on a park bench taken…AND, Daniel forgot to bring my camera to the reception… so I don’t have ANY pictures of me and my sister!  She did make for a lovely looking bride… too bad I couldn’t be happier for her.  (But I’m not THAT short sighted in my not gushing over her… she did enough of that on her own.  When we were at that little private in between party before the reception… I can’t remember what we were talking about, but she was standing in front of a mirror, and checking out her waistline….while we were talking.  Turning, slightly twisting to see how much of herself she could see over her shoulder…all whilst we were chit chatting.  She stopped herself, and finally looked at me and said, “I’m sorry, I just can’t believe I’m finally looking like this!”  gag.  Sister or no sister… it’s hard to be happy for someone when they’re just so into themselves.  I know she was DYING for everyone to gush over her… but sorry hon, it just ain’t gonna happen coming from me.)
 
Someone's missing
 With mother and brother
And are we total nerds for doing a DRESS REHEARSAL a week before our trip.  Because we did!  And this is us in front of our home, with the camera on our CAR, timed to catch this shot.  I'm so vain!
 
Now that you've made your way through this extremely long post about a wedding that means next to nothing to you...
I have some news...
 
In those pictures...I didn't have a big lunch.  There's a reason why a week before the wedding outside our house I look slightly different than the day of the wedding.  And no, I don't think it's because my hair is down and I'm wearing makeup. 
I will quietly tell you... I'm pregnant.  This time, I hope it's for real.
In the dress rehearsal pic I was 7 weeks, feeling pretty good about myself, and our little secret.  By the time the day of rolled around, I looked like I swallowed a football.  I'm sure everyone could tell, or maybe those that didn't know me just think I'm belly heavy.  But that's what 8 weeks pregnant looks like on me, 7 months after having a full-term baby. 
I've been very apprehensive to release the news.  I'm afraid I'll be back here tomorrow... to tell you all how it's all over...
The more people we've told in real life... the more I feel like it's all a matter of time now until this pregnancy ends too.
 
We're hoping for the best.  Because man, we need a bit of the best right now.
 
Hang in there baby, we need you <3