Thursday, July 22, 2010

Reason

Yesterday I had lunch with my mom at a beautiful lakeside restaurant. We went there back when I was pregnant, and she was newly diagnosed and still could hardly walk. I posted about that day because we had seen both a bald woman and a very pregnant woman, and she had been dreading and I had been looking forward to having those outward signs of our conditions.

Yesterday we were talking about my baby, and how sad I felt that I didn’t get to have my baby here with me and be a mom, and she too shared how saddened she was, not just that I was hurting, but that she lost her grandbaby. Since she has been given about 10 years to live, she admitted she was fearful that she may never get see her grandchildren, or know them well, if she perhaps died while they were still very young.

I was telling her how knowing my baby was up there, especially now when I have no children here with me, made the idea of dying so much less scary and upsetting, because I think, at least I will get to meet my child. We both came to the realization that no matter what grandparenting experience she had here, she had a grandbaby up in Heaven waiting for her, and she would be able to meet him or her, and love him or her and be a grandma to that angel baby someday. We were both comforted by the idea, though it was a little upsetting to be speaking so frankly about her dying. I was comforted knowing that my baby would know my mom, and have her there to care for it and watch over it. She was happy about the thought of meeting her first grandchild and being a grandma. She said, “Thank you for having an angel baby for me.”

I hate the idea that this was all part of God’s plan, or that my baby had to die or was meant to die. I can’t accept that, but, if I have to find reason in all of this, for my mom being sick and my baby dying, maybe I can see it there, or at least see the possibility of a reason. Maybe my mom needs a comforting idea, a grandbaby that she already loves dearly, waiting for her and making her journey less scary. Maybe my baby needs someone to take care of it. Maybe they were meant to be together up in Heaven. I still don’t like it. I still wrestle with a lot of anger at God and the Universe for this happening, but it seems slightly less senseless and cruel if my mother and my child can be together and be there for each other.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A New Understanding

I used to cry in anticipation of bringing you home
Now I cry because I never will.

I used to think I had felt true heartache and knew deep sorrow
Now I know I had only glimpsed the surface of real pain.

I used to look at other children with joy, smile and imagine you
Now I have to look away from them, a painful reminder of what I lost.

I used to imagine what you would look like, if you would have your father’s eyes or my smile
Now I wonder if I will recognize you when we meet in Heaven.

I used to say “I’m sorry,” when I heard of someone else’s loss, not fully understanding their grief
Now I share it and truly feel the depth of their pain.

I used to enjoy telling people about you, sharing our joy with others who already loved you
Now I share what happened, try to express what you mean to me, but words are not enough.

I used to think we were close
Now I fear I will never forgive them for what they said or did not say, for how little they understood.

I used to complain about the things I had to give up to be pregnant
Now I would give everything I have to hold you in my arms, even for a moment.

I used to wonder what happened when we died, if we really went to Heaven
Now I have to believe you’re there and that we will meet, or else I could not go on.

I used to have a smile that reached my eyes
Now it is tempered with the sadness of missing you.

I used to think that time healed all wounds
Now I know it only makes them easier to hide.

I used to fear I was weak because I had never been tested
Now I know how strong I really am.

I used to hold my belly and speak softly to you
Now I close my eyes and pray that you can still hear me.

I used to think my wedding day was the happiest day of my life
Now I know that I have never felt more joy than the day I found out I was your mother.

I used to know my mother loved me
Now I understand how intensely and miraculously deep that love really is.

The Good News


I'm afraid this blog has become too depressing. I realize that most of my posts are pretty down, so I'm going to try to stop only posting the bad, sad things. I'm really coping better than it might seem from the blog. I have been able to go out, see people, enjoy things, even babysit. I think about my baby every single moment of every single day, but I don't cry all the time, and I am looking forward to the future.

The best thing going on right now is how good my mom is doing. She is responding so well to chemo that they might be able to increase her dosage, having her go every week instead of 3 weeks on and 1 week off. I am so proud of her and her outlook. She has remained optimistic and cheerful and isn't whining or feeling sorry for herself. She still does everything, sees her friends, even drives herself to and from her chemo appointments. The only thing she "can't" do is the dishes, but I think that's just because she doesn't want to.

My adorable, perfect, loving husband decided that he would shave his head completely bald in solidarity with my mom, whose hair is finally starting to thin. She still has it, but it's going fast and she's already bought a wig and some hats in preparation. This Sunday we completely shaved MS's head, and I think he looks great! He has always had very short hair, so it wasn't as big of a sacrifice as it would be if, for instance, I chopped off all my hair (it's past my waist), but I still thought it was a very sweet gesture.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Pictures of me


One of the unexpected things that makes me sad is looking at pictures of me and my husband. They’re all over the house, of course, us smiling and happy and beaming in love. There is so much expectation and optimism in my eyes, we look so hopeful and delighted with life. It pains me to see how na├»ve and happy I was, and know what is in store for that past version of myself.

I’m extremely lucky that I haven’t suffered much tragedy in my life. My childhood was pleasant enough, grandparents and pets died, but that is an expected sad, a normal part of life. Earlier in my twenties I went through some difficulties with my family, my brother caused a lot of tension, my mother had a breakdown and ended up in a pretty bad place, but we got through it all, and I still felt hopeful and happy. I still had my future to look forward to, I still hadn’t lost that hope that my husband and I would do it right, have a life free of strife and tragedy. I stupidly and innocently believed I could be only happy forever, that nothing bad would ever touch me if I did everything right. It shows in the pictures, in our eyes, our purely cheerful smiles.

Looking at those pictures of a younger us, I feel like I do when watching a movie, when the audience knows that the bad guy is right around the corner, and feels anxious and worried for the hero, shouting at them not to go that way, he’s going to get you! You know something bad is going to happen to the clueless hero by the ominous music playing, by your superior position of omniscience as the viewer. I feel that same sense of foreboding towards my younger self in photos. I want to shield her from all this, warn her, make sure she enjoys how happy she is, because grief is coming. I want to hold on to that look in my eyes, that pure, untainted happiness, because I will never look that way again.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A lesson

I have read and heard many words of comfort in the form of articles, poems, and things people have said. I’ve noticed a common theme that runs through the words of encouragement offered to people who have had a miscarriage or lost a child. The idea is that your baby is in heaven and was called to God early because you loved it so much, or it was sent to teach you what a mother’s love truly is, so that you would know God’s love, or appreciate your other future children, that the loss would make you realize how true and deep a mother’s love can be and make you a better mother.

I understand these things are meant to help, and I get that people don’t know what to say. I think that a lot of women dealing with a loss are looking for answers, reason and meaning, and cling to the idea that their losses made them truly appreciate and realize how much they wanted to be a mom. I hope that these ideas bring some people comfort, but to me, they are insulting.

I rebel against the idea that I had to lose a child to know how much I loved it. Or, that because of the pure love I felt for my child, God decided it was okay to take it away before I knew it. Because I knew how much I loved my baby before this happened. I didn’t need to learn a lesson in love. I wanted my baby before it was even conceived. I have been dreaming of having children of my own for as long as I can remember. There is nothing I have ever wanted more out of life, no goal, dream or aspiration I held higher than being a mother. If you took everything else away from me, told me I’d never be successful in my career, that my marriage would fall apart, that I’d lose my health, my friends, that I’d lose everything, I wouldn’t care as long as I could be a mother. I’d give up everything else for that one dream. I felt that way before the loss. I have always felt that way. I didn’t need to be taught how much I wanted a child.

I loved my child from the moment I knew it was there, growing inside of me. I wanted it with all my heart and would have given anything to keep it with me. I don’t want my baby to be some angel up in Heaven waiting for me, someone I can meet only when I die. I want that child here with me now. I wanted to meet it and to love it and to teach it. I wanted to hold it and to know it.

I don’t believe that God took my baby for any reason that I can understand. I don’t believe God does these things to us, and all the poems about my little angel being too beautiful for earth just leave me bitter and angry. Give me an imperfect, ugly little monster who isn’t ready to become an angel until it spends a lifetime here, with me. I will love it enough to make it worthy again. I already know how much I will love my children, how much I love this child that I lost. I didn’t need this to know how deep my love for my child was.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Brighter Side

I started this blog to write, not only about my baby, but about my mother and her battle with cancer. At the time, I thought the baby would be the positive side of my story, my mother the sad part. Now things are reversed. The baby is gone, and that is our family’s great tragedy. My mother, happily, is doing extremely well. She is responding to chemo, her tumors are shrinking, she is breathing easily. Her arm, swollen and painful, has started to shrink down to normal size, despite the doctor’s dire predictions that it would always remain distended and deformed.

She hasn’t lost her beautiful blonde hair yet, though it’s starting to thin. She is vibrant and healthy, positive and happy. Her treatments don’t drain her, or make her sick. She has even been able to drive herself to chemo, and go about her normal activities right afterward. She hasn’t lost any weight, or been nauseous from the chemo.

I’m so heartened by her progress and her success in this battle. One of the biggest worries that the loss of my baby brought to my mind was that it would be too much for my mother to handle. That with her history of depression, and her horrible diagnosis, her mental attitude would be so damaged by this news that she wouldn’t respond well to treatment and would slip back into a depression that would hinder her healing. She is devastated at the loss of her grandchild, of course, but she is taking it well.

She is glad that she knew of the baby for the short time that she did, for while it was still a positive hope in her life, it offered her comfort and helped her through what was an immensely difficult ordeal. The baby gave her hope when she needed it most, and even though it didn’t last, she is grateful to her little grandbaby, which she has named Angel. She thinks of it often and feels it’s presence in a way I never have. She is much more spiritual than I am and assured me that my baby is at peace and happy and she is confident that it was sent to help her, help our entire family, through the difficult times we faced during her diagnosis. I am glad she can see it this way and find comfort in the idea.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Waking Up

When you’re dreaming with a broken heart
The waking up is the hardest part


I heard this song recently and I was moved by how true these words rang for me. I’m generally coping very well. I can go through my day, my normal activities, see people, smile, laugh. I get sad moments but for the most part I’m fine. I can even see babies, pregnant women, and children without letting the grief overwhelming me. I’m handling things fine. But getting up is the hardest part of my day.

Ever since I quit my job and started working from home, I’ve no longer been a slave to the alarm clock, which I love. Before this happened, I still woke at a reasonable time, got up, and got started on my day like a normal person. Throughout this ordeal, I’ve found it harder and harder to get out of bed. I don’t set my alarm, hoping to pass as much time as I can asleep and blissfully unaware of what my real life is like. Whenever I am finally awakened, whether it’s by my husband getting up, a bird chirping too loudly, or the neighbors making noise, I try to go back to sleep. I refuse to accept that I am awake, that this is all true. I stay in bed for a long time, just thinking about what I have to do next.

It takes enormous effort to take that first step, to get up, eat breakfast, and start my day. In the first few moments of waking, the knowledge of what I’ve lost and what my life holds for me comes rushing into my head and nearly paralyzes me with sadness. I know it’s not the worst thing that could have happened. I know I have a lot to be grateful for. I know there are people with much bigger problems than I am facing, but I still have to talk myself into getting up and facing my life. Because this is not the life I wanted. This was not the plan. This is someone else’s horrible nightmare. Something I would observe from afar, and remark at the tragedy. This is the life of a person whom I would pity. This is not what I expected, what I prayed for, or what I dreamed for myself.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

B Positive

It’s all over, finally, officially, really. It feels so empty and complete now. No chance at all that things will ever turn around, miraculously be right again, that there was some mistake. It’s over, done, our baby is gone for sure.

The last time I blogged, Monday, I had tried taking Misoprostol to medically induce a miscarriage at home. I put the pills in and took some Vicodin in anticipation of the pain and I lay down with a heating pad and waited for the horrendous cramping and bleeding to start. Nothing happened. I bled a bit but didn’t cramp at all. I attributed this to the Vicodin, felt grateful that it was so easy, and went to see Dr. Fine the next morning to make sure it all passed.

Of course that was too easy. As Dr. Fine quickly found, it was all still in there. Nothing had happened. She sent me home with another round of Misoprostol and I tried again. The same thing happened with even less bleeding. I didn’t even take a drop of any pain medication because I didn’t need it. I was extremely frustrated and angry. Now I would have to have surgery, or continue to wait. I didn’t understand why my body couldn’t just do what it was supposed to. It was like it couldn’t let go to this baby, no matter how surely gone it was, I couldn’t let it go and it just remained stubbornly.

The next day I talked to Dr. Fine and she told me what I feared. I would have to do a D&C. We scheduled it for Friday so I was left with another few days of waiting. I am not scared of surgery per se. I don’t mind needles, I can handle the little prick of the IV going in, and to me, that is the worst part. I don’t react badly to anesthesia and I always think surgery is the easiest thing, as it’s all up to the doctors to do everything for you. My only worry was the slight risk of complication. I spent that night sobbing to myself, alone locked in the bathroom. I didn’t want MS to see. I just felt so bad for my baby. I felt that I had failed. I said I was sorry to my little one, sorry I had failed to carry it, sorry I hadn’t given it the right genes so that it could live and be healthy. I apologized to my little baby and clutched my stomach for the last time, knowing it was the last night my baby would physically be with me.

Friday morning we arrived at the surgical hospital early. This is the same place where I left my tonsils back in 2006. It is a gorgeous, amazing hospital, a fabulous place to be unconscious in. I went in and was pampered and babied, given a warm blanket and coddled as the nurse attempted to get an IV in me. My veins always give them difficulty. She put one in my left arm, hit a valve, which hurt badly and left me with a horrendous bruise, and had to go in a vein on my right hand. That was by far the worst part. That and I was dying of thirst from not eating or drinking for the now 7 hours prior. The IV started dripping in fluid and I immediately felt better. They brought MS in to sit with me, and I was in good spirits, laughing, joking, spending time with him and trying to enjoy it, in case I actually did die in there, there was nothing else I would have rather done with my final moments than just to be with him.

Dr. Fine and her father came in and reviewed my paperwork and the bloodwork the hospital had done days earlier. Everything looked fine, except of course that it was “very rare” that someone would not react to 2 rounds of Misoprostol. I asked the nurse what my blood type was, as in my life I’d never needed to know this, and she said “B positive.” I decided that would be my mantra going in and laughed at the thought. I will be positive, and I was.

Finally they led me into the OR, I situated myself on a nice warm bed, with nurses and doctors hovering around me, patting my arms, adjusting this and that. My anesthesiologist was a fellow redhead, and I was glad, as I knew she would believe the semi-proven theory that redheads require more anesthesia. I always need several rounds of Novocain to get numb at the dentist, and though studies have shown this to be the result of a mutation of the same gene that causes red hair, there are always skeptics out there. But a fellow redhead would know and believe. They put a mask on my face and after a few breaths I was out.

I woke up later in a recovery room. A nurse assured me Dr. Fine had spoken to me but I had no recollection of it whatsoever. They brought MS in and he told me that, true to form, I had required a lot more anesthesia, and I had similarly proved another old wives, (or I guess old doctor’s) tale, that redheads bleed more. I had hemorrhaged and lost a lot of blood. MS said Dr. Fine had seemed shaken and nervous when she had spoken to him, but assured him I was fine. As she explained to me later, it was a good thing the Misoprostol didn’t work at home, I was better off in the hospital if I was going to bleed that much. With my new “B Positive” attitude, I took that as a blessing in disguise, and decided that, as much as I had resisted, surgery was the best solution for me. The recovery has been perfectly fine. Other than feeling weak and tired from the blood loss, I’ve felt great, no pain, no cramping, no ill effects. I am so sad that our baby is really gone. Even though I know it died so long ago, there was something a little comforting about carrying it with me all that time. I felt like we were still together, it was still there. Now it’s gone, physically, officially, completely.