Friday, December 31, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of 2010

Not the year I hoped for, that's for sure. To say I can't wait for 2011 is an understatement. To think 26 days ago I was thrilled about the year (well, almost all of it). Here's the year in recap.

January: Living in Germany and traveling all over the place. Our parents visited us for the 2009 Christmas season and we traveled all around with them. On New Years, we were in Paris. Before heading back to the US, we also visited Switzerland, Italy, and Romania.

February: We flew back to Chicago for our home search. We had a week to find ourselves a house and place an offer before heading back to Germany. We found our dream home and put in an offer. They accepted. 2010 was promising to be a great year!

March: We flew back to Chicago and were here to stay. We moved into our new home just two days after our plane touched down and started trying to get pregnant just days later.

April: We found out that those two lines (when the pregnancy test is done correctly... yes, I'm sometimes blond) meant that we were pregnant! Woah, that was quick! We did some volunteering at our new church and met a bunch of amazing 20-somethings like ourselves, too! I was midway through teaching a graduate course in technology for teachers.

May: I began subbing in our local area. We started attending a Bible study with those new friends we found and really became plugged in. I also had my very first OB appointment that confirmed once again that we were expecting! The end of this month also brought tears... a dermatology appointment and biopsy found that I had Basal Cell Carcinoma. Skin cancer at 27. Lots of tears, but a promising recovery.

June: The month started off rough. I had surgery on my skin cancer to extract it all-- which was successful. I wasn't able to have all of the numbing drugs due to my pregnancy, but I toughed through it. I recovered well. We had Ray's parents and grandparents in town mid-month and went on a nice architecture cruise downtown. Our second OB appointment followed at the end of the month.

July: This was a great month. Not only did we celebrate 2 years of marriage with a trip to South Haven, Michigan, but we had so many social gatherings with our friends! We headed back to California (for the first time since we packed the truck and moved to the Midwest in 2009) to watch our friend Jen get married! She played a role in us uniting, so we surely wouldn't miss her wedding for the world! My amazing husband bought tickets to see Bon Jovi at Soldier Field also! And finally, on the date of our 2nd anniversary, we found out we were expecting a son. Those were such happy memories. I remember we called our Bible study group after calling our elated parents and then headed to have a Mexican dinner and virgin margaritas. :)

August: This was another busy month. We had visitors from Germany, more social outings, our first Chicago Cubs baseball game, a play downtown in Lincoln Park, and our first baby shower at Seven Springs, Pennsylvania! Ray's family held a shower for Luke & Liz (expecting the same month) and us. It was so much fun and we dreamt of what the next year would be having our 8-month-old sons with us there!

September: Lots of subbing this month. I was becoming quite pregnant at this time and everyone was beginning to notice. My parents came to visit us for the first time and we showed them around the area. We had more visitors from Germany and lots more social events, including a White Sox game. We went on a tour of the Labor and Delivery unit at Edward Hospital, where we delivered Andrew.

October: We celebrated my 28th birthday this month and my 2-week appointments started. We were able to hang out with my cousin TJ, his girlfriend Pauline, and my aunt Robin downtown on a warm night. My best friend Alison, her husband Nic, and their kids Gabrielle and Scotty came to visit for a few days as well. It was wonderful having them here. We also had our first (of 2) baby classes at the hospital!

November: More subbing, our second baby class, volunteering, and lots of social events this month. We had dinner with many people because we were sure we'd be too busy to have social time once Andrew arrived. All of the finishing touches were put on, the nursery was complete, and we were ready for our baby. I was seeing the OB every week starting this month. Strong heartbeat, no concerns. All was well on the baby front! We celebrated Thanksgiving with some friends locally because we didn't want to drive too far in fear that we would be too far from the hospital.

December: Our world came crashing down and all shades of white quickly turned to black. Our baby was born without a heartbeat and we weren't ever going to experience bringing him home. We still have no idea why... and we don't really want to know. We love you little man. I sure hope you're enjoying heaven.

Still praying and full of hope that this new year may bring better news. There were wonderful times, but also such trying times in 2010. While some days I wish I were never pregnant so we could be spared from having to endure the pain of losing our son, being pregnant with him was precious and wonderful. Yes, I complained like all pregnant women do, but deep down inside, I loved that God chose me to grow his little body. We are thankful for one another and hopeful for a healthy pregnancy in this new year.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Congratulations! ... Oh, I'm so sorry.

Our circumstances lend themselves to some uncomfortable encounters with innocent, well-meaning people. When Ray went back to work, there were plenty of times he had to correct congratulatory remarks and ultimately make many people uncomfortable. I luckily have not had many of these encounters myself (yet), but know that they are coming in larger numbers.

Though I haven't been back to substitute teaching quite yet (will likely go back in late January or early February), they have been notified. I just don't want to walk in the door with confusion and stares about why I am not home taking care of my newborn. While I know fellow teachers and staff are understanding, children are innocently oblivious. That will be a difficult road for me because most students knew I was pregnant (it was hard not to notice!) and many even know that the name we had picked for our son was Andrew. They would often ask how Andrew was doing by name. I just don't know how to properly engage with these students as this isn't something that should sadden them. It's unfortunate, but it may not be appropriate to share with a 3rd grader that my child has died. That will be a road I cross when I come to it.

As for the understanding of people near and far, we've never felt so loved and cared for. The school district I have subbed for since about April of 2010 sent me not only a nice plant form 1800flowers, but they also sent us a gift certificate to a restaurant in our area. I just never anticipated anything more than a card from people I know on a business-only level and especially not for a substitute! We've received cards from people we barely know and receive them everyday. While we don't need cards or gifts (so if you're reading this, please be under no obligation), we are appreciative that so many people are thinking and praying for us during this time.

Speaking of mail... my poor mail lady. Like I mentioned above, it was a bit hard to conceal my pregnancy and I wasn't trying. I was proud to be pregnant and embarking on becoming first-time parents with my most incredible husband. My mail lady knew we were expecting and came to the door to deliver a package. She said, "I notice you're no longer pregnant, congratulations!" Surely, she meant well. She wasn't at fault for congratulating me. I deserved the congratulations under normal circumstances. I wanted the congratulations, but have swapped those words and cards for sympathy cards instead. I tried to contain the tears when I told her the unfortunate news, but I just couldn't. I can't speak the words without crying. It made her very uncomfortable and I was not intending it to be that way. I felt terrible that she walked away feeling awkward and sad. I since wrote her a Christmas card and placed it in the mailbox letting her know that she had every right to congratulate us as we were expecting a child. What has happened was not her fault, nor ours. I thanked her for her service to our home and explained that although we are mourning, we still appreciate her.

In case you're wondering where your Christmas card is this year, we sent none. I recognize that Christmas is indeed a wonderful season, but this year was marked with much suffering for us. We just cannot write and send cheery cards to people when we aren't feeling that spirit. Know that we are feeling thanksgiving in spite of our tragedy, but that we are just not motivated at this time to send cards.

It's weird receiving Christmas cards mixed with sympathy cards. For Ray, he was receiving birthday cards in the midst of Christmas and sympathy cards. For two people who have never received a sympathy card in our lives before this tragic event, it's an odd feeling.

We haven't been back to church for an actual service since before Andrew was born. We went to see our church's Christmas musical, but I wish we hadn't. It was titled, "A Mother's Story" and images of newborns were on display everywhere. Having just given birth to my stillborn child 6 days prior, this was disheartening. I know the images were meant to portray baby Jesus (of which my child was not, haha), but the images were just rough. Seeing others with their infants in carriers was also difficult. There was a line in the play to the effect of, "No mother should ever have to watch her child die" (Mary speaking about Jesus sacrificing his life) and that surely sent me into a crying spree. I already knew it was coming as my friend had warned me ahead of time, but it didn't make the words any easier to hear. Though I know people have the best intentions and are there to love and pray for our healing, I just can't bear to cry walking into the doors. These people watched me through my pregnancy and though we will go back, we just haven't yet. I will forever be known as the woman who unfortunately lost her firstborn child. I'll forever be the person who will be spoken about in whispers and treaded lightly around when any discussion of babies arises. In moving here, that was one thing that Ray and I were most excited about. We had a new city and all new friends that would know us for who we are together. Living in LA, everyone knew the Brandy before Ray and we loved that they knew us as a couple only. Now, we have a new title. While it would be easier to just walk away from that church and those people, we feel at home there. These people were the ones praying for us and offering dinners, gifts, and their time. We love our friends and the community we have been introduced to. It's humbling to be that couple with the unfortunate tragedy and to have others care for us. We'll go back, but we just need time to heal us. Christmas needs to pass and baptisms of infants probably doesn't warrant our return. 

We were watching TV last night after engaging in some strenuous (haha) Wii Fit exercises and saw a commercial:

A woman sat in a rocking chair next to an unlit Christmas tree, holding her swaddled newborn baby. Her husband walked into the room and she told him to go back to bed because it was 2 a.m. He then replied by telling her that it was not just 2 a.m., but 2 a.m. on Christmas morning, as he plugged the Christmas tree lights in to illuminate the room. They both smiled as they embraced their child-- it was a special moment to be spending their first Christmas together as a family with their new child they just welcomed into the world.

My heart aches.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bah Humbug.

Feeling sad today. I just have no desire to celebrate Christmas this year.

I'm glad the Christmas tree and decorations were already hanging, otherwise I'm not certain they would've been taken out of the boxes.

My husband is incredible. I'm not sure what happens to a person after they go through losing someone they love, but I'm attached to him. Normally I enjoy my space, but I just want to be next to him and anticipate him arriving home every night. I always love that time, but I especially need him right now. My poor husband's 29th birthday came on Monday and it was a bit more somber this year. On December 5th, our son's birthday, we had reservations to have a romantic fondue dinner downtown. We didn't make that reservation as I was just 3 hours from delivering our son and in active labor. We decided to eat there for his birthday instead. It wasn't quite the birthday present I had in mind to give him. What I wouldn't give to have been able to bless him with a son-- to make him a father. I know we'll get there. He will be a dad and I will be a mom.

To pass the time, we have planned a few things to look forward to. On Christmas Eve, we're going away to a hotel a few hours away. I don't know the logistics because it's a secret. I love secrets planned by Ray. In February, we're headed to the Bahamas. We were meant to fly to California around that time for our post-baby shower to share Andrew with our friends and family. Again, I just can't go through with that. We re-booked and are now headed to Florida for a cruise. I am very much looking forward to that time. It's almost like being married all over again. We are trying to have more date nights because that's just where we started. We started as two and we're still at that point. All things considered, I am in love with the husband God blessed me with. Above all, he is my constant and my love. I know that having met and married him means my life has been enriched. While I long for a child, some of my friends are still waiting for their soulmate. I am forever thankful for already having found him. It doesn't change that I had to say goodbye to my son 10 days ago, but it does put life into perspective and make you focus on what you currently have and are thankful for.

These infant photos on facebook and it seems everywhere I go are rough. I want to feel happy for my friends and those strangers out there, but I don't. I hate that part of myself, but it's just not something I'm ready for at this point. It's still too fresh. Two weeks ago, I was meant to be a mom also.

I am slowly healing. Emotionally, I will take some time. I've cried every single day, but it seems to be getting easier. I doubt it will be consistent and I hate that I have lost control of my emotions. Physically, it's slow. I'm ten days post-delivery and I'm not enjoying my mom-body. It also doesn't help that I cannot workout right now. I desperately want to go for a jog or jump on an elliptical. I realize many women who have children feel this way about their bodies post-delivery. But, my situation is different. I sit around my house in emotional and physical pain just wishing it all away.

Time will heal... but does it have to be going by so slow? I'm ready to wish 2010 goodbye. Despite all the great times, it brought the worst day of my life. Maybe 2011 will bring parenthood to a reality.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Music For Our Souls

Music has been so helpful in breaking the silence in our home. I used to love silence and at this time in our lives, we loathe it. 
While I want to be hearing the sounds of our child, we're hearing nothing. Thankfully, I'm also hearing my phone ring and the 
sounds of voices from all the amazing people God is using in our lives to get us through this time. We're surviving. I don't know
about flourishing, but survival is at least hopeful. My friend Kim brought over a CD of music that encourages her. Internet music
has been on nearly every moment I'm awake.
I read somewhere today that although God cannot prevent our suffering, he can get us through it. Many songs are helpful, but 
the lyrics of Redman's song, Blessed Be Your Name, are quite powerful. I've always loved this song, but today it has new meaning.
Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Devastation. The Post I Have to Write.

What can I say? I've experienced more heartbreak than I thought was ever conceivable. Ever.

During my entire pregnancy, I've read blogs of others who have given birth to babies suffering with seizures, born 3 months early, or dying shortly after birth. I've read about their coping processes. I felt sorry for them. (I read lots more happy blogs, too, in case you want to call me crazy). I have friends who have had countless miscarriages, continue to struggle with infertility, and have tried everything just to become parents. Coming to terms with our tragedy now, perhaps that was a helpful way to lead me in the direction of grieving. We both always saw our lives as pretty much perfect and wondered why we had everything. We got pregnant the very first time we tried. Neither of us had ever had a real tragedy or dealt with death in any close way. Sure, we've had older family members die. But those family members died generally of a sickness or were much older and had lived a full life. Death is a part of life, but it's simply not fair to endure it without having experienced life. So, those perfect lives I mentioned we had (successful in school, educated, happily married, own a house, great friends...), well, there will always now be a scar and void in that "perfection" we have.

We thought we were in the clear. Throughout the entire pregnancy, there were very few concerns. He always measured smaller, but not a concerning size. He was breech, but the external version had nothing to do with his death. I fell, but on my bottom-- again having no impact on our child. We thought that at 38 weeks and 5 days, our perfectly full term baby would be perfect upon birth, even if he were early. I mean... that's an entire week after full term is generally defined and we passed the mark.

Everything, and I mean everything was defined by us having a son. I wouldn't make appointments, dinner dates, nothing in hopes that I would have a child that consumed our every moment. Andrew was in our every single thought.

When you're pregnant, there is just nothing that can compare to the feeling of having your child growing within you. It's God's perfect place that he designed to protect and nurture babies. I was that perfect place for Andrew... all until sometime between Saturday night, December 4th and Sunday morning, December 5th. We had a doctor's appointment for our 38th week on December 4th at 10 a.m. and heard his precious heartbeat once again-- counting the days to actually seeing his gorgeous face. We left with confidence as we had for awhile now. Though still zero centimeters dilated, I was certain we'd have him within the next 17 days-- because they wouldn't be cruel and allow him to be born on Christmas. (In hindsight, I could care less when he was born... as long as he was born alive). Like I said, his organs were fully developed and we were over the bump of nervousness that usually determines sustainability. He was moving fine on Saturday.

Sunday morning, December 5th, I didn't feel much movement, or any at all. I wasn't thinking about that though, because about an hour after waking, I starting having an intense single cramp in my abdomen. I thought... surely it's constipation or something of that nature. Yes, I tested the theory. Okay, but no relief. About an hour later, the pain worsened and it turned into intervals rather than a direct, constant feeling. My amazing husband was on the Internet searching as we all tend to self diagnose. At this point we did not think it would be contractions. I had never had a contraction before. Not even a Braxton Hicks-- whatever those feel like. By the time we actually started considering I may be in labor, we counted. I called the doctor to tell her that I was having sharp pains that lasted for about 30 seconds and came every 3 minutes. She said, "Call back when they are 1 minute long"-- 30 seconds is not enough. Okay, I get it. Many women call thinking they are in labor and freak out. I wasn't trying to be on that statistic, but this pain was intense. So intense that I vomited because of the intense pain. At this point, Ray was timing them and we were certain I was in labor at this point-- active labor. He counted and called the doctor. It took them awhile to get back to us (about 30 minutes), but we started driving. We assumed they were giving us time because since this was our first baby, we are probably the most prone to overreacting. Ray feverishly walked around cleaning the house during our wait and grabbed our bags before leaving.

We arrived at the hospital sometime between 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. and Ray dropped me off at the door as he parked the car. I continued to have 1-minute contractions spaced about 2 minutes apart. They weren't getting easier. Once he walked in, we headed up to labor and delivery. I was taken into a "checking" room as they intended to dismiss my labor cries and send me home. But... I never went home. This is where my life will be changed forever. This is where I become forever scarred, bruised, broken, and saddened. A piece of my heart is gone.

I lay down on the bed and the nurse strapped me with a fetal monitor. I've had this done numerous times before, so I know the procedure quite well. Usually, since I'm a smaller person and he is a full grown baby, they find it immediately. This time was different. She searched all over my belly and we heard nothing but the faint sounds of my own heartbeat. When she called on her phone for backup to assist in finding the beat, I looked at Ray and we both just had a look of disbelief. Right then, I really needed no more evidence that something was seriously wrong. We had about 4 nurses in the room and then the doctor came in with the ultrasound machine. Again, I'm really used to seeing that machine in action and his heartbeat. Nothing. At that moment, I experienced shock for the first time. Nonverbal, wide-eyed, tearless, shock. Then, hyperventilation. I began to shake and remember saying that I could not physically stop myself from shaking. I was wheeled down to another room-- the room we're now convinced is the "death" room in the L&D ward. It was located far from any other delivery room in a corner. Later, Ray told me that instead of a stork or some beautiful mark on our doors (we had 2 entrances), we had a falling leaf with some bereavement poem behind it. I didn't hear a single baby the entire time we were there. Not a single cry. Not my baby, not any other baby.

In the meantime, my contractions are beyond excruciating. I was dilated from 4 to 7 centimeters in about an hour. Being the carrier of a confirmed unresponsive baby, I had a million extra tests to be administered before they would consider an epidural. It just seemed unfair. I am in pain as any other laboring pregnant woman, yet I get no reward. I endure the same pain but have nothing to smile at in the end. Blood was taken in large amounts, an IV was placed and another ultrasound machine and technician came in. This time, she was testing the amount of amniotic fluid to see if that was any cause for the distress. Nope, normal. My water had not broken. Once all of these tests were done, I received an epidural.

Then, all was calm. There was no one in the room but people looking at me sadly, apologizing, and walking out. We sat there, still in shock and nervous of the next step. It's one thing to know you will be walking out of the hospital alone, but it's another when you know you'll come face to face with your child at some point. I wasn't nervous about the birthing process. I would have done anything to assure he would be alive, crying, and well when the day was over. The irony is that I was terrified of giving birth before this day. For some reason, when you're in emotional pain, physical pain is almost nonexistent. We sat there crying, in shock, talking through the worst day of our lives. Talking about how impossible it could be that this could be happening to us. We were prepared. We have it all together. We love God. We attend church, pray, and love others. We volunteer, give, and still, we must experience this.

At about 7:45 p.m., I was told that I would have to start pushing as I was completely dilated. This time I can remember both vividly and abstractly. It wasn't me inside my body. I remember them coaching me and my wonderful husband by my side. My water broke at 7:51 as I heard the nurse tell the other. At some point, they made me stop to wait for the doctor to arrive. She arrived and I gave birth to our child. Lifeless, but infinitely more beautiful than I ever conceived. I did not want to see him until he was cleaned off and they took all of their information. He was taken from the room and the rest was silent. I was shaking incessantly as I could not control the nerves that rushed in my body. I would be meeting my son for the very first time. A son who moved within me... who I loved SO much. But, he would never see me. I would never see his naked body or his eyes. I would never see him smile, laugh, or move. Shaking.

It was anticlimactic. Rather than hearing the words of how many pounds or the length, Apgar scores, or anything else, I just heard talks of no cord issue, no blood clots, no placental issue, no evidence of a problem.

At 9:04 p.m. on December 5th, I gave birth to an angel.

I had to ask the nurses how much he weighed and how long he was. They wrote it on the whiteboard in the room. 7 lb. 6oz. and 19.75 inches long. Perfect baby boy. They just kept telling me how beautiful he was.

Having not seen him yet, this is probably the time nurses began to share their heartbreaks. It seems like that is a human response to when others suffer. People search for something to level-out your feelings. I met 3 nurses who gave birth to stillborn children. The great news was that they all went on to have 3-5 more children after their tragedies.

We met our son around 10 p.m. that evening. He was infinitely more gorgeous than I ever thought he could be. He had a beautiful nose, mouth, cheeks, ears, hands, feet, and even little eyelashes. His hair was a light blond shade and he just looked at peace. I was terrified, but once I saw him, all I wanted to do was hold him and touch his still-warm body.

Around 11 p.m., the hospital provided us with a baptism and that was wonderful. He was dressed in a gown and given to God. He was always God's, really. This is the best way we knew to memorialize him.

At 1 a.m., people from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep came to take photos of us with our son for the very last time. We were never to see him again after these minutes. While I felt this was something our child deserved... to have a family portrait with parents who could not possibly have more love for him, it tore us apart once again. Every encounter with him caused us to wail.

The next day brought infinitely more tears. The other doctor I saw frequently in the practice (the celebrity) came in early morning. She was also devastated. We talked it through and she gave us research she's learned about stillborn births with no explanation and promised to continue searching my file for information. She promised us there was nothing we could have done and that we followed all that we could to assure a healthy baby. Most importantly, she helped talk us through the future. She talked counseling, occupying our time, joining a group of support, and having more children.

The truth is, as soon as we found out Andrew would never come home with us, we wanted to fast forward or rewind. We wanted a re-do. A restart button. A do-over. I wanted to fast forward to pregnancy #2 as fast as humanly possible. As insensitive as this may sound to anyone reading, those who have had a stillborn child see life differently. Every woman I have talked to in my same experience (firstborn, stillborn) wanted to immediately start again. It's not that you want to cover up your first baby and mask the emotions, but because we know we'll never "get over" our son. We'll never be done mourning him. The longer we prolong having another child, the less healthy it will be for us. Plus, we were told that you are infinitely more fertile right after giving birth. Your body is ready to be pregnant and it's had practice.

I wasn't the most graceful pregnant woman. I was terrified of giving birth. But now, that's not the case. The silly things I've said I missed during my pregnancy I wish I could take back. I would be willing to do anything to assure that our child could be here with us.

On Andrew's birthday, I know two other people who gave birth that day. I know two other couples who welcomed their firstborns into the world just a couple days ago as well. As much as I want to say, "It's not fair", I know. I'm not jealous of their babies, but infinitely jealous that they are able to love their children and take them home. I don't want their children. I don't want any child. I want our Andrew. But, he is now with God. Tragedy occurs and God hates that... but it still happens. It happens to people with no warning, like us, and it happens to everyone.

As much as we felt taken care of at the hospital in that terrible Room 120, we felt there were a few things missing besides having our baby laying in the bed next to us. The next day, we were handed a paper to call local mortuaries for funeral/memorial/burial/cremation services. Talk about a shock. Two days prior, I was experiencing kicks and movements from my baby inside my body. I was counting the days until we could place him in his carseat, take him to the park, and see him smile. Two days later, I am signing autopsy paperwork and being told to call and price-check with funeral homes to cremate our child. Nothing, nothing is more painful than having to say goodbye to your baby. Luckily, the nurse offered to call around and set up arrangements for us. Less than 24 hours after finding out you will lose your child, giving birth, and staring at his face and we're required to price check for death services?

On Tuesday, we were allowed to go home. I was kept in the hospital a bit longer than usual because my white blood cell counts were higher than they should've been. They wanted to monitor in case I were to have an infection. I wasn't about to go back to that hospital again until I actually heard good news, so we stayed. The car ride home was infinitely harder than we thought it would be. I was wheeled out of L&D and sat in the wheelchair downstairs as I waited for our car. A woman sat with her 4-week early newborn in the chairs also waiting. She was laughing, smiling, and sharing her precious gift with all those around. I also had a baby, but I wasn't sharing him with anyone. I wasn't strapping him in his carseat or experiencing nervousness as we drove our precious cargo to his home and the room we had perfectly set for him. The laundry was done and everything was ready for his arrival. We drove home in tears. When we arrived home, I sat in the car as Ray found the strength to de-baby our house. Every single thing baby related (you can imagine our house was flooded with it as we were expecting him in just days!) went upstairs and is now sealed in what would have been his room. While coming home was difficult, the most difficult part was the silence. We hated how we left the hospital changed, but unchanged. We were changed emotionally, but all the hopes and dreams we had for the past year were shattered and the house we expected to share with our child-- the Christmas tree we thought would be his first tree and a place for our first family photo has vanished. Remnants are still around the house. Safety plugs, emails congratulating me on making it to my 39th week of pregnancy, diaper coupons... all triggers of emotion. 

Visiting the funeral home to select an urn for our child was the most difficult thing I think I've ever endured. It was gut wrenching to write "mother" and "father" on that paperwork to know we never got to exercise those privileges. We never watched him laugh, open a Christmas present, or kick a soccer ball. Going to "pick him up" will no doubt be even more painful.

This entire story is sad, but the most wonderful part is having the love and support we've had from friends and family. Having moved here in March, we never anticipated the amount of love we would be given by these people. We joined a great group of 20's/30's at our church and have since been quite connected. We spend lots of time with these wonderful people and they have made a point to assure we are pre-occupied and not sitting in silence. As much as I hate talking and sharing my emotions (except via blog), I have been forcing myself in order to avoid depression. Postpartum is most common (for obvious reasons) among women who have lost a child. We asked our friends to just keep us company. We don't need gifts, condolences, Sympathy cards, or anything. We have enough reminders of our son. We have pictures with him, footprints, and plenty of other items that we can't possibly forget how much we are mourning. We just want to laugh, to talk, to enjoy the company of others to break silence. We had at least 15 visitors at the hospital including the pastor at our church site. The outpouring of love surely blessed us.

We should be hearing our baby crying, waking up all hours to feedings, and changing diapers. We're not. We're just crying.

Physically, I am still dealing with the pains of giving birth. My emotional changes far outweigh that pain, but it is cruel to feel what a new mother feels and not look into the eyes of my child. I cannot drive right now. I must heal. My milk has come in and my breasts are incredibly painful. They are meant to nurture my child-- the child I won't ever have a chance to nurture. I stare at a post-pregnancy body and have no reward to show for it. I don't care what my body looks like, but it definitely reminds me of Andrew. If I feel a growl in my stomach or a cramp of any kind, it takes me back to what it feels like to have Andrew moving inside of me.

We will always be in love with him. We may never see him again, but he was our child. He sure was beautiful. Godspeed. We are not done. We want children and we pray that someday we'll get to experience what it's like to watch our child grow.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Ending of an Era

In the time I've known my husband, I've been introduced to Vera Bradley. Coming from California, almost no one has these or has even heard of the brand. While we dated, my sister-in-law bought me my very first VB items. This was the very first purse I ever owned by VB and there is a matching lunch tote to go with it.

It's been used thoroughly. So thoroughly, in fact, that my husband is now embarrassed that I would even carry the bag around considering its condition.
It's nicely monogrammed... except I've been married for 2.5 years and have since become a Wilson-- inherited a W and dropped an F. This purse is older than even our engagement of 3.5 years ago.
Here's the real issue. Here's what makes my husband cringe when I grab this as we head out to a nice dinner-- like the one we had Tuesday night with our incredible friends, Derrick & Liz. Check out those shoulder straps. I know. Cringe.
I promised that I would retire this bag {to the garbage} and use my other bags from December 1st on. Well, it's December 3rd and I'm just getting around to that promise. What can I say. Does pregnancy count as an excuse?

I'm still using the lunch tote-- even if it has no matching companion and it is monogrammed with my maiden name.

Baby Update: Week 38

Here we are... the home stretch. Baby W is viable and could come {safely} at any time. I'm ready for him to arrive because I'd love my body back. As you know from my previous post, 6 days ago I had an external version done to turn Baby W into the correct position. From that experience, I was required to wear a very large belly band and it's super itchy! As if the humidity changes haven't already caused me to lose TONS of sleep and itch all night incessantly-- add a wool band to the mix and that's a cocktail for pain and torture. But, worth it, I know.

How far along?: 38w3d
How big is Baby?: Big enough to make his appearance! I believe he's probably in the 6-7 pound range at this point. I'm not huge and most people that see me do no react to him being very large at all.
Maternity clothes?: Yes. We all know how I feel about them at this point. Thank goodness for yoga pants on days where the other 4 options just aren't working.
Sleep?: Terrible. Like I said, that itching! I think it's about 40% baby and 60% intense dry skin. I have literally tried it all: oils, lotions, wet skin + lotion/oil, infrequent showers, short showers, humidifier running all night...
Best moment of the week?: When Baby W was turned successfully!
Movements?: Oh yes. His new position head-down doesn't seem to be bothering him much since he's moving as much as ever!
Food cravings?: No. I did make peanut clusters last night for the first time ever. My mom would make these ever year for Christmas and since I had all the ingredients (peanuts, chocolate chips, peanut butter), I figured I'd try my hand at it. Peace of cake and delicious.
Aversions?: Not really... but the heartburn has been creeping back and making me question my food choices. Gardetto's mix = rough night.
What I miss?: A full night of uninterrupted sleep. Haha. I know. Laugh away. That will cease to exist in just a couple short weeks when Baby W arrives.
What I'm looking forward to?: I am looking forward to the weekend! It starts (for my husband) in about 4-5 hours!
Anything else?: Not really. He's fully grown and all set to make his appearance. The thin hair on his body is shedding and the vernix is also diminishing.
This week in history: Obama makes a surprise visit to Afghanistan, we had our first snow! It didn't stick for long but I hear tomorrow we'll be getting 2-6 inches! And so it begins...

What's going on this week (with us)?: We had a great week. I subbed a few times but I have a feeling that this will be my last week. I would go one more week of subbing, but people keep asking me when I'm due, if I am up for the task of working a full day (what would I be doing at home but driving myself crazy?! Laundry is done, bags are packed...), etc. It's almost like they want me home-- which I guess makes sense. No one wants me going into labor in the middle of subbing kindergarten, right? Depending on how far along I am according to my doctor tomorrow, I'll make the decision if I will continue working a few more days or not-- though I know it's not super accurate either way since people progress at different rates.

We are getting a Christmas tree tomorrow after my 38-week doctor's appointment. I've never had an appointment on a Saturday. Tomorrow will be my first time. Christmas trees seem much cheaper here than in LA... or maybe it's been too long since we've purchased one. We've only had one tree in our 2.5 years of marriage since last year we did not buy a tree in Germany (traveling a ton and no space). We should be able to find a nice tree for under $25. Many go for around $15. Not bad.

We have a date night on Sunday to Geja's Cafe. It has been rated one of the most romantic restaurants in Chicago. We considered checking out Marshall Fields' lights and window displays on State street, too, but it may be too cold. It's been in the 20's with a wind chill down to about 10-15 degrees lately. We may be doing a drive-by rather than parking and walking in the freezing (and potentially hazardous, icy terrain) temperatures. Either way, we're going to have an awesome fondue dinner! Can't wait!

Here are the photos from the previous months. Since they turned Baby W, you may be able to see a huge difference in the shape of my belly. It's definitely less of a basketball and more top-to-bottom rounded out.
Here I was two weeks ago at 36 weeks breech.
Here's my 38-week photo after the external version = no longer breech.
Here are the rest of the photos in case you'd like to check back in time. At my 40 week post, I am thinking about creating a video slide show to see progression better. It's a pain to upload, but I'll make it happen somehow. That is if Baby W isn't here already! :)

Here's a lovely care package sent by Samantha for Thanksgiving along with a card from my parents-- the jellybeans are long gone!
Our friend Erin (who just had a baby girl in October!) sent over these books as some of her favorites. She's also a kindergarten teacher, so she knows what the little ones love. I would say that the super little guys perplex me. I'll learn soon enough! Thanks Erin & Adam!
It's been package central at our house... unfortunately I don't have a photo of all the amazing things Alison, Nic, Gab & Scotty sent (I put it away already and wasn't going to run around the house pulling things from shelves... sorry no photo!), but I'll describe the amazing stuff. Alison has now had two little ones of her own and had a baby in March, so she's well versed on what she loves. She wanted to share some of those loves with us and Baby W.

Aden & Anais swaddlers (these are so wonderful!), Sophie the Giraffe & Giraffe Wubbanub, 2 nursing tank tops she bought for a total bargain (way to go, Al!), a Boon Squirt spoon (...which is awesome! They use them with Scotty and they're super convenient!), & A Baby Gap footed outfit (SO cute). Everything is being washed so it's all ready to go! :)

Here are a few photos of that horrible band I've been wearing. I've only taken it off for a total of about 3 hours since Sunday. I wear it when I sleep since I am less aware of his movements then, and most of the time when I'm awake. Right now, however, I am being a rebel. It's just so uncomfortable. I'm hoping by tomorrow's appointment, the doctor will tell me I am good to go and he's right where he needs to be without a chance of movement. Of course that's probably unrealistic, but it's a hope.

Doesn't that look comfy? The good news is (if I'm trying to be positive here), is that it does provide back support if that was a concern... which it's not, really.