Saturday, July 23, 2011

Another Angel's story....

This was a post (from a grief/loss community I frequent) from another mommy of an angel.  It was so touching and described so well the emotions and the experience that many people could benefit in many ways by sharing it.  She gave me her permission to post this, in hopes that her story will reach others, providing comfort and understanding. Remember our babies. 
She was perfect.  10 fingers, 10 toes.  A tiny mouth, two tiny ears, and a button nose.  She just came too early.  18 weeks too early.  Most are well aware that my water broke and I contracted a severe infection in my amniotic fluid.  So severe in fact that my life was at extreme risk and if we had not went to the hospital when we did that I could have been hours away from being septic.  In a matter of 48 hours my life went from a plan of joy to a nightmare.
June 22, "You are definetly having a girl!" A dream fullfilled.  A little girl I've always dreamed of and had the name for since I was a child.
July 2, "Due to the uncertintiy we need to get you another week and a half along and you need to be on bed rest."
July 4, "We're so sorry.  The heartbeat we thought we had was your own."
July 5 @ 6:40am a beatiful baby girl is born at 14oz and 10.5" long.  Stillborn.
I couldn't believe what I had to go through.  I sat their listening being told I had to give birth to my little girl who was no longer with us.  How was I supposed to be able to do this? How is a mother supposed to birth a child with no life when the whole point is to give your baby life? Devestation.  Pure and simple.  I went numb.  I couldn't do this with feeling.  I had to separate myself.  It wasn't fair.  The only thing I ever wanted in my whole life ripped away from me.  It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do.  I would take 1,000 needle pokes and 10,000 times this pain just to have her back safely in my womb.
It feels hollow.  My womb, my heart, my soul.  I never knew that a heart could actually hurt.  I swing back and forth from sadness, desperation, anxiety, fear, hatred, anger, numbness, and helplessness.  At times I'm able to put everything aside and laugh.
When I feel I can't go on, everyone is there.  My experience was exceptional.  We were able to hold our angel any time we wished.  We would send her with the nurses for the night and get her in the morning.  I would wake up panicked.  I needed my daughter.  How could I not hold her for forever? The nurses would ask several times if we were sure we wanted them to take her when we had her.  At one point, even though we said we were ready, a nurse decided to give us a bit more time.  The doctor's a nurses were so sympathetic.  They let me sleep, cry, mourn, and laugh.  They told us their stories.  They told us how hard it was for them.  They told us how beautiful our daughter was.
My family has been exceptional.  My aunt never left my side except for a couple of times.  Coaching me through my birth.  I don't know how she did it.  But her strength enabled me to push on.  I know she was heartbroken.  Helping me through the hardest thing any of us have ever had to face.  When she wanted me to breathe I wanted to tell her I hadn't had time to learn any of this.  When I was told it was ok to cry, I wanted to say I didn't want this to be me.  My family has laughed with me and cried with me.  They hurt with me, and sat quiet with me.
See there are things you can do and things you shouldn't do.  We have been lucky.  Everyone has been so supportive.  You see it's ok to not know what to say or do.  Because honestly, not a word you say will bring Ashley Elizabeth back.  Not a word will ease our pain or take it away.  It's ok to visit and just sit quietly with someone that lost a little one.  We had people do that.  No words were needed, just the support.  It's ok to say how sorry you are for the loss.  It's ok to say that you don't know what to say. 
I can tell you that there are those who held our precious dollbaby and that meant the world to me.  Because it meant that other people accepted her as being real and loved too.  People would ask, afraid of my reaction, but my heart was never so proud.  Because now I'll forever remember that she was held by someone other than myself.  I'll remember the love and compassion that people looked at her with.  The gentleness in how they picked her up.  The love in their eyes.  They're admiration of how even though she was so tiny how perfectly she was already made.  Not everyone may feel that way.  But she was real, and it meant the world to me.
It's ok to talk about her and to ask questions.  There may be answers we know and answers we don't.  There may be times when we want to answer and talk and times when we don't.  All we ask, is that you understand and be supportive of us and anyone else you may know.  Meals, prayers, cards, quiet visiting, they all mean the world.  We never realized how helpful a meal was until we were in this situation.
It's ok to mourn the loss of our baby and the loss of the things we'll never do or have.  We'll never here her laugh or cry.  We'll never see her roll over, crawl, or walk.  We'll never hear her first words or have her call us mommy or daddy.  We'll never ground her, threaten her boyfriends, buy a prom dress, or have her walk down the aisle.  There will be no graduations, skinned knees, splinters, christmas cards, fights, or pedicures.  We will not have grandchildren by her.  We won't see her get her heart broken.  We won't see her first date.  But we saw her.  We saw her have no suffering.  We saw her loved.  We saw her 10 fingers and 10 toes.  We saw her sleeping.  And it is ok to mourn all of this for and with us.  Because we wll not heal over night.
But please do not discredit our loss or anyone else's.  Each loss is different.  Some people it is much harder for some people it's not.  At times I think my loss is so different then a miscarraige, and to an extent it is.  But the fact of the matter is, a loss is a loss.  A baby is a baby.  You can see a little one's heartbeat as early as 8 weeks.  Probably earlier.  Don't say that at least she didn't suffer.  Because as odd as it may seem, we grieve that we don't get to see her heartaches.  Don't tell me that it wasn't my fault.  Because even though I logically know it is not my fault and I could have done nothing, I am her mother and it was my responsibility to give her life and protect her and I feel as though I failed.  Like my mother who stood on the sidelines watching me do the hardest thing I've ever had to do knowing we'd be having a funeral, I am a mother who was helplessly lying in a hospital bed wanting to do whatever the doctors wanted if it meant bringing her back and I couldn't.  So while I know that I tried and did everything I could, I feel guilty and that is something I have to work through.  So acknowledge those feelings and support me or anyone else you know.  Because a mother's sense of love and obligation is indescripable and goes further than I ever thought.  And please know I am always a mother.  My husband is always a father.  Our parents are always grandparents.  Our sisters are always aunts.  And our nephews and neices are always cousins.   I may not always feel I'm a mommy because I don't get to push my daughter around in a stroller, walk her into her first day of school, or take her to Sunday school, but I had and have a baby.
We have had such a great experience except for one.  And this is primarily for any medical personel.  Never ever forget that a parent who has suffered a loss no matter how far along is grieving and it can only take one word to flip a wrong switch for someone.  You see, as most also know, I had an emergent appednectomy less than two weeks after giving birth.  Not once, not twice, but three times 1 nurse and 1 doctor later I was asked about my 'fetal demise' and if I had to 'expel the parts' of my baby.  This infuriates me because I had a baby.  I did not have a screw, a fan belt, a motor, a leg, or an arm. I had a baby.  Please remain sensitive to this and change your terminology because it's NOT appropriate.  No matter how far along I was she was a growing person with a heart, liver, lungs, intestines, brain, eyes, fingers, toes, and everything you or I have.  Just much tinier.  She could hear me.  She could feel pain.  She had nerves.  She could even taste.  Do not discredit that.  Your beliefs may be different, but you need to assume to err on the side of caution that any patient believes their baby was and is a person.  If I did not have the loving husband, family, friends, and church family I do, I might have or might decide to give up.  A woman who has given birth, primarily to a little one she had to bury is at high risk for post-partum depression and demeaning her child could be the one thing to push her over the edge into a dangerous territory no one wants anyone to enter.  So rememeber, miscarriage or stillbirth,  a woman still had a baby.
Just remember, our baby is loved, with us or not.  She is in the arms of Jesus.  "Jesus loves her this I know, for the Bible tells me so.  Little ones to him belongs.  They are weak, but he is strong."  And please don't forget that Jesus called the little ones to him, "Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”"  This is not mentioned once but three times in Matthew 19:14, Mark 10:14, and Luke 18:16.  Please take comfort with us that Ashley is in Heaven at the feet of Jesus and is in a place of no suffering.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Back to normal...or MY normal anyway...

Physically, I'm feeling better.  I'm building up my muscles again that have literally turned to Jell-O over the last few months due to inactivity.  I am ready to re-join the gym once the kids get back in school and I WILL get healthy. I don't ever want to feel as fragile, unhealthy, and close-to-dying, as I did over the past two weeks.  Knowing my statistics for heart disease and strokes, not only due to family history but now my odds with repeated miscarriage (recent studies are very discouraging), I am going to do everything I can to keep myself out of any more statistics...unless it involves winning the lottery, but the odds are usually only in my favor with the negative, so I won't hold my breath on that one.

Emotionally, it is still a struggle. I fight back tears constantly...when seeing babies, hearing babies, seeing pregnant women, Baby on Board's everywhere.  Hayley knows when I am struggling, and it makes it even more awkward because I know that SHE knows.  The baby section in the store is a nightmare.  She asks me things that make us both tear up, but I'm glad she is comfortable enough to know that she can ask me anything and I will tell her. I told her to always ask me or talk to me about anything, even if it makes either of us cry, because crying is okay.  It may hurt, but it's healthy and okay to get it out.  She should never have to wonder about anything and have it eat at her, especially if I know the answer...or at least can listen.

We did have a good time today and it was nice to be out and about and feeling somewhat "normal" again.  In the same breath it's hard to be "normal" when I should be pregnant, feeling Andrew kicking me and exhausting me...instead it's just me.  Anyway, Hayley and I went shopping and had a good time just she and I.  We haven't been able to do it in a while and she is growing up so fast....we definitely need to do it more often.  Andrew did make me realize how precious every moment is and how I need to focus on the positives and not just dwell on the negatives.  My kids are definitely big positives.  I am so blessed to have them.  I am still struggling and will continue to do so, but I know my life will go on.  I am going to try and make the most of it and hopefully Andrew and my other angel babies will be proud of me for it.  

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Physically healing

My body is finally starting to mend.  Hayley and I actually got to go to the grocery store yesterday...the first time in over a month for me!  I did pretty well, although I feel my muscles have wasted away and I'm having to rebuild them. It was nice to get out of the house that I've been confined to since April!  I am still exhausted, but I no longer feel like my body is just going to shut down on me.  Now, to get this messy house clean that has festered for the last several months, ugh.  Doug tried to "clean," but we all know men's idea of cleaning is not quite the same as ours...and yes, I'm anal about it!  I hate to do it, but once it's clean, I honestly think I will feel better all around.  I hate a messy house!

The only bad thing about my physical symptoms disappearing is that my emotional ones are coming forefront.  I can't hide behind the physical pain anymore and the grief and depression are hitting me smack in the face and heart like a wrecking ball.  I am still in disbelief that this has happened and still can't believe I'm no longer pregnant...or that I ever was.  It's so crazy how that works.  I was in my bed for MONTHS, sick, and trying to get through the pregnancy, but somehow those endless minutes just seem to have disappeared, like it was all a dream.  I know it wasn't, of course, but maybe it's just my souls way of trying to help ease the hurt of losing Andrew.  I still see his long, but tiny, body and his face, his long legs, his little big feet....and the longing for him is overwhelming.  I look at Trevor and I see Andrew.  I dream of what could have been and how much he would have been like Trevor.  What a great brother Trevor would have been to his little mini-me.

I am getting better though...I will get through this.  I have had the great support of family and friends to help push me and remind me I'm not alone, even though sometimes it feels that way.  It has definitely opened my eyes even more so to the blessings that I do have in my life.  I am blessed with great, loving kiddos who I will take that much more time to love and adore every minute of every day.  I have a great husband that will bend over backwards to do anything for me and loves me to pieces.  I have family and friends reaching out to me.  I am trying to look at the blessings...the positives....and remind myself that everything isn't lost.  Life would be so much better if all my angel babies were my earth angels, but I've just got to accept that they never will be.  I'm working on it, but oh how I miss them and long to hold them.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I held son

Two weeks ago I was at the hospital waiting to give birth to you.  I was scared to see you, but anxious all the same.  I was torn by hurt, sorrow, depression, shock, and even anger....I still am.  I knew you were gone and I still feel there was something I should have or could have done.  Maybe I wasn't active enough, or maybe I didn't eat enough?  I should've been taking aspirin, just in case.  I will never know if something so simple could have kept you here with me, and this blog wouldn't even exist.  Why did the path have to split in this direction?  When you were born my heart and soul tore into a million pieces. It was hard to look at you like that, but I couldn't take my eyes away.  You were little boy.  The nurse put you in your little bed and handed you to us and I was overtaken by how much you look like your big brother, Trevor. I just kept staring at you, wondering how just three days ago you were alive, and now here we are, holding you for the first and only time to say hello and goodbye. I still can't believe it. Why couldn't it be a few months down the road.  Why couldn't the bassinett in the corner have you in it, warm and kicking and screaming?  Why can't the lullaby's be playing over the loud speaker to announce to the world that our little Prince had arrived?  I want you here so bad. I want to see you born on New Year's and hold you in my arms, marveling at how much you look like Trevor as you grow, watching you interact with your brothers and sister. It's only a dream now... or a nightmare, honestly.  My dreams haven't been peaceful since you've been gone. My chest is heavy with grief and it's hard to function, but I'm trying really hard to push through, for you...for Hayley and Trevor.  I am trying to be brave and to smile.  I am trying to tell myself that there is some lesson to be learned from this and maybe that message is for me to take care of myself, to enjoy life to the fullest, and to focus more on being happy instead of always stressing out.  I haven't lived much in the last three years waiting to have another have you.  I am going to try and focus more on other things and let what happens happen.  I will put my health and needs forefront and start trying to do for me.  That may sound selfish, but I think that is what I need to do for the first time, well...ever.  It's not quite as easy as it sounds, but with all my angels looking out for me, I have hope that I can do this.  Give all your brothers and sisters a kiss from me and know that I love you all.  We all do.  Not a moment goes by that I don't think of you. Hayley drew a picture of all of us here on earth and those of you in the clouds above us, our babies...we all love and miss you.  Daddy and Trevor talk about you and miss you as well and it's hard on us all, trying to understand.  Send more butterflies our way...we are watching for them. Mommy loves you, so much.  I miss you more each day.  I don't know if my heart will ever heal now that you are gone.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Appointment today...

Today I went in for my surgery follow-up that was supposed to be my regular monthly well check.  Instead of leaving happy and beaming from yet another sonogram showing me his flailing arms and legs and his wiggly body, I left with a copy of his autopsy.  It's hard to read how "normal" everything was, down to the 10 fingers, 10 toes, male, measuring between 14-15 weeks (he was a big boy already!).  It's just not fair and my heart still hurts.  My soul needs closure and answers.  My body, physically, needs to heal.

We are still waiting on the ashes, which I hope will come home soon, and the final pathology reports on chromosomes, to see if there will be an answer for us or not.  In four more weeks, I can go back to me RE, who I much prefer, even though we thought we had graduated and moved on, finally.  We thought our next visit to her would be to show off our little one, but that's obvious not the case any more.  I thought I would never have to endure another first trimester of agony again, but looks like I may if I decide to try again.  The thought of it just makes me anxious to think about right now.  I don't know what I'm going to do, or if I will try again.  I just really hope we have answers, but seeing as that would make things a little easier for me, I'm not counting on it.  Things haven't been easy so far, why would that change now when I need it most?  My doctor is forwarding my information to a hematologist, but that will be another four weeks out before I can go to him and hope for answers.  Guess 2011 just wasn't my year.  Oh, wait...neither was 2010...or 2009....

Monday, July 18, 2011

For a Brief While...

For a brief while a sweet miracle was yours....

Only you knew
all the joy
of having your child.

Only you know
all the pain
of your loss.

But anyone who
has ever loved
must yearn to bring
you comfort.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Two weeks ago...

Two weeks ago I was telling my friends and family how I was excited to have reached the second trimester - the "honeymoon" trimester.  One friend in particular I was telling how I couldn't wait for this day to be over because it coincided with the latest loss I had had in the past.  Just one more day and I could breathe easier.  My very first loss I had found out at 14 weeks that the baby died at 12.  Once I woke up in the morning...THEN it would be easier to finally start enjoying this pregnancy.  I would have passed all the points of loss I'd had in the past and I was "safe."  I listened to the heartbeat before I went to bed, excited to wake up and really start this pregnancy...buying clothes and toys, baby stuff, etc.  I could finally give in and purchase some maternity clothes instead of the few pairs of regular pants I was wearing everywhere.  I could start talking about my pregnancy without cringing at the word, just in case...

The heartbeat sounded as it always did.  I went to bed.  Andrew died some time within the next few hours.  Why?  I still don't know.  I still couldn't believe waking up and not finding the heartbeat. I knew it was just a cruel joke because of the dating.  I mean, I had made it one day PAST my last loss, which was already past the time when most miscarriages occur, the DAY I had been waiting to pass...I was in my 2nd trimester where the risk goes down to 1%...this was the day I had been counting down to, and I made it!...and there was nothing!?! I just still can't wrap my head around it. I still can't believe I have gone through it again, especially when everything was going fine.  The tests I had done by my specialist in the last year showed that there was nothing to worry about.  My miscarriages seemed to be just luck of the draw flukes.  How could this happen?  I still can't believe Hayley's birthday came and went.  Instead of being at the 4D ultrasound with the family, as we had planned for over a month....I was in the hospital having surgery?  I just don't get it.  I'm still in shock, I guess.  Still struggling with the physical symptoms.  Maybe once I don't have to worry about my physical health, it might sink in a little more...or hopefully when I get answers.  I wish I could rewind two weeks and hear his heart beating again...but then, I would just be living this entire nightmare over again, I guess...if only things could have been different.