Placental lakes are not a vacation destination

Have you ever heard of these? I certainly had not, until this week. Because apparently, I have them. Yippee for me. Want to know what they are? Pools of blood in the placenta. Lovely.

Guess what else? I have low amniotic fluid and in almost a month it doesn’t seem like Birdy has changed positions.

She’s growing, thank goodness, for now — but these new developments are pretty effing concerning and I’m kind of pissed at the universe. Come on! Couldn’t you just have tossed me a gimme for this pregnancy? Couldn’t you have let us get through it with the anxiety we already possessed and not piled on more? COME ON!

So I’m off work for two days while I continuously guzzle fluid and rest to see if that makes a positive difference in the fluid level. Because with the way this school year is, there is no way I could meet that criteria and still go to work. We go in for another ultrasound shortly to see if it’s made any difference.

The placental lakes, it seems, are there to stay — nothing to be done.

Just slightly unnerving.

I’ll be busy trying to avoid the internet rabbit hole of information that will terrify me.

Birth Days

Yesterday was Charlie’s due date. What was estimated to have been his birthday. I’m not sure why, but lately I’ve been thinking of Charlie more as a boy. Having a pronoun to use is comforting, so I think I’ll just go with it for now.

I’d put in for a personal day for 11/7 almost as soon as school started up again. I didn’t know how I would feel on his due date, so I thought it best if I just stayed home. That way, no matter how the day ended up being, I wouldn’t have to struggle to keep it together all day long.

What was funny, in an odd and unexpected way, was how I didn’t feel devastated or bereft all day long. I had intended to spend time looking through the box I’d put together of the small amount of things we had that represented his short existence, but I didn’t. I may still do that today though. If he had been born yesterday, it would have a been a beautiful autumn day for him to enter the world.

I’ve been thinking too about how this sort of loss just becomes a part of you. My baby died. And when I think about that, I don’t think about it in terms of “fetal tissue” or whatever clinical terms exist. He was my baby, and he died, and when that happened, I had no idea how I would make it through the darkest grief I have ever experienced. I knew I would, but I didn’t know the path to get there. To get here. Where I can think about him, and what happened, and not break down.

My baby died, and there is absolutely no getting around that. It isn’t something that can be fixed, and it isn’t something I will ever have an answer for. I still get sad, and angry — of course I do. Those are pieces of me now, just like Charlie is. I still feel guilty. I think about things we did last spring, when he had already died, but we didn’t know it. I wonder how the hell I didn’t know. And even though there isn’t a single thing I could have done to change what happened, I am still so sorry.

Oh, wait. Here comes the crying.

If Charlie had lived, his birth day would have been a monumental event. A defining point in our life. I’d be completely exhausted from labor, and, I like to think, completely elated and in love with the new life I’d brought into the world. Instead, I’m fighting like hell to get his sister here safely. To do for her what I couldn’t do for him. And it’s a weird juxtaposition.

Happy Birthday, my first baby. I will never stop wondering who you would have been. But I am so grateful for the time we had you, for making my way through your loss, for everything I’ve learned because of you. I love you always.

 

The uphill of the downhill

Based on a bunch of reading from blogs and baby-focused websites, plus doses from “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” (the book, not the movie), I’ve gleaned that the second trimester is supposed to be the easy one. The downhill stroll before the third trimester rolls around.

But my downhill is still pretty uphill, and not because of a ton of un-fun symptoms. I mean, I have some. But none that are debilitating. To be honest, this pregnancy has been pretty “easy” overall, physically at least. And while I appreciate that part, the whole pregnancy has been very difficult because of the emotional aspect. Not even the heightened emotions bit, just the ever-present fear of losing this baby, too.

I know, because of Charlie, that no matter what I do or how I try to “steel” myself for a potential loss, I will still lose my ever-loving mind to grief if it happens again. But a part of me still braces for it, because as much as I want to believe Birdy will end up happy and healthy in the world come March — and as much as I try and even sometimes convince myself that that will absolutely happen — there’s still a part of me that can’t trust that.

And I’m so jealous. I am. Of all the people who don’t have to think about that while they’re pregnant. I’m happy for them, but I’m jealous of them. I want the bliss. I yearn for it. And I have big, big hope. But I don’t get the bliss that comes from ignorance. That comes from knowing about other people’s stories of loss, but not having them really touch me. Not that blissfully pregnant people are bad people — they aren’t! That’s not what I’m saying! I just — well you get it, right?

Another thing that’s been rolling around in my head lately, is that I still kind of feel like I’m not quite allowed to be excited about Birdy out loud. At least not with people who aren’t my nearest and dearest. Most people don’t ask about the pregnancy. My bosses didn’t even acknowledge they got the email I sent them informing them I would be gone for maternity leave around early March (I finally asked one of them three weeks later, just to be sure they got the email and knew they would have to find a long-term sub — they did). And again, it’s not that anyone’s doing anything wrong. I suppose I just realized that I still feel the weight of stigma from miscarriage — whether it’s truly there or not. As though because I couldn’t get Charlie safely into the world, no one should really bring up Birdy until she’s actually here.

So, clearly, I’m still kind of grappling with some guilt. Ha. Likely that won’t ever completely go away. Logic versus feeling.

But she is here. Every day. And for as long as that lasts, maybe I should let myself celebrate her whenever I damn want. Or, at the very least, not think I should be keeping my head down about the pregnancy.

I’m aware I’m kind of talking in circles. Well, writing. But at least I’m expressing!

Hummingbird baby

We’ve already chosen a name for March baby, but I think you can grasp that we’d like to keep that a little closer to home than the whole internet :-). However, we now know March baby is a little girl, so I’d like to call her something on here that leans more towards a name. As such, on here, I’ll call her Birdy. Short for hummingbird, because they’ve kind of been my spirit animal since we lost Charlie. My touch stone, in a way. They’ve been my symbol for hope for something beautiful coming after our loss.

I keep in mind that quote, the one I referenced in my “About Me” section. The one that starts like this: “Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration…”

I have hummingbird wall stickers in our now-nursery. I put them there before we know Birdy existed. Before I had faith in hope again. I have a hummingbird pendant I wear to most doctor’s appointments. And so, here baby girl will be Birdy.

She is stubborn. We knew she would be. Hubs and I both are, so there’s no getting around that one! But she showed it at the ultrasound! Or maybe she just showed being shy. She would not cooperate much with the technician. Though we (and the tech) saw all the “big” things — namely that she was a healthy growth, organs seemed on target, there were bones growing, and that she was a she — we never got a clear look at her face, and the tech didn’t get as many exact bone measurements as she wanted. So, we’ve got another ultrasound in a little over a week, which I’m glad for because we’ll be able to check in on her again.

There are time I think I might feel her moving, but it’s pretty faint and I’m never totally sure. However, we also learned from the ultrasound that the placenta is in front of her, which is why I might not feel movement as soon or as clearly as others who are as far along as I am. The placenta could also be playing a part in why it seems more difficult for the doppler to pick up her heartbeat right away (which was a relief to have an explanation for).

We bought a glider (on sale!) for her nursery, and we ordered a crib as well. Decided one that could be converted into a full-sized bed eventually would be worth the cost and would pay for itself over the next twenty years. And we’ve ordered some prints for her walls. I’ve always been a nester, always wanted the space where I lived to feel right, to feel like a home. So feeling that way about my daughter’s room (!!!) really isn’t something different. And I’m fully aware that she won’t care what’s on the walls or what her bed looks like. Not for awhile, anyway. But it’s important to me. I want it to be a safe, calm, completely lovely space for her.

We really haven’t bought any clothing, but have been reading that so many people get you clothes for the baby shower regardless of what you need…so maybe we should hold off until after that? We’re dipping our toe into figuring out childcare, too. Holy guacamole. Hubs calls it a second mortgage. I’d love it if we could find an in-home family daycare, but so far it seems kind of difficult to get a read on those in our area. I know we’ve got time, but I’m hoping these next months will go pretty fast, and we want to be prepared.

My best friend from North Carolina is planning on coming up over her spring break to meet Birdy, and one of my cousins is so excited about planning the baby shower. My mom is making her a Christmas stocking, buying fabric and sketching patterns, even though she won’t need it just yet. And my dad — my play-it-super-close-to-the-vest dad — asked if he could pick out her Christmas dresses when she’s little, like he did for me and for my sister. My brother is planning on flying up in the spring, too.

And hubs talks to Birdy in my belly. He says, “I hope you hear when I make your mom laugh, because I try to do that a lot.” And he sends me pictures for treehouse ideas. And I’m so grateful he’s her dad.

She’s so loved, so rooted for, already.

Little girl in the world

March baby is a girl! About a week before we found out, Hubs told me he thought that would be the case. I really didn’t have a strong feeling either way, but you know in the only dream I had about our baby beforehand she was a girl. I’ve had another since we found out, a weird dream, but nice in that she had her Daddy’s eyes.

I’m happy and relieved to have a pronoun to use. I’m happy we’re taking steps to move forward with our nursery. I’m happy with getting to tell our nearest and dearest that we’re having a little girl (though I would have been equally as happy with a little boy — my only goal was and is a healthy baby). I’m happy figuring out what to name her.

But, in a way, as happy and relieved as I am, especially knowing that right now she’s all right, I am still completely terrified. Maybe even more so than I was before, even though I know that doesn’t make much sense. We made it this far, 21+ weeks, but there is still so far to go. And I spiral pretty easily of late, because there is so much I still cannot protect her from, and that puts my fear and terror on overload.

Last weekend I had a complete panic attack because I started thinking about how easy it would be for a deer to run across the road at night, and we might hit it, and my seat belt would tighten up and it could crush her. And the same this could happen if we braked suddenly for that hypothetical deer but the car behind us didn’t and so they hit us. Or someone wasn’t paying attention when they merged and the same thing could happen that way. See how quickly the spiral happens?

Beyond that, what if I can’t drink enough water even though Lord knows I am trying and my amniotic fluid dries up and she suffocates? What if my body fails me again and thinks she’s supposed to come out way too early and I go into pre-term labor — there’s no way she could survive outside my body yet. What if the umbilical cord gets wrapped around her neck? What if she gets stuck in the birth canal?

I’m aware that in these moments I am fully on the crazy train, but given that any one of these things could actually happen (in some way), is it being crazy or just that I’m hyper aware of how easily things could go wrong after Charlie?

If I’m honest, I’ve thought about how returning to counseling would possibly be beneficial; but at the same time the pragmatic side of me knows my school schedule doesn’t mesh with my previous counselor’s office schedule, and the whiny side of me doesn’t relish the thought of having to find another one.

I still haven’t been writing much lately, on here or even privately. So I think for now I’ll try to get back into the habit of doing that, to see if it helps.

And I’ll keep writing letters to the baby, and talking to her, and trying to ground myself in what’s going right.

Kids say the darndest

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled into a conversation with a group of my middle school kids. Out of the blue, one of them says: “My mom said I was an accident. Ha!”

I was quietly startled, but asked if he understood what that meant (all the while trying to figure out how to soften the statement). He said no, but that it sounded funny so he just laughed. I asked him if he wanted to understand and he said “yeah”.

I did my best, tried to be school-appropriate but also honest, and just told him that it meant his parents weren’t actively trying to have a baby when they got him. I further said that many babies are often unplanned, but that I was sure his parents were glad he was here.

The first student nodded and then asked another if they were an accident. This student rolled right with it and said, quite clearly, “No. I was a miracle baby.” She further explained, “If my brothers and sisters had lived, I wouldn’t be here.”

I about choked. Because that’s kind of exactly where I am. I still grieve Charlie. But it Charlie had lived, March baby wouldn’t be growing right now. And I caught on the word they had chosen to describe her: miracle. And I was grateful for this set of parents that I’ve never met.

Then a third student chimed in, “Oh, yeah. That happened to my parents, too. Before my sister. He’d be, um, like probably ten by now. If he lived.” So nonchalant. Just stating something that was.

Y’all, it was so surreal. An accident. A miracle. A non-categorical that was familiar with both. It was kind of amazing.

It made me kind of hopeful for this next generation that’s coming. That miscarriages, miracles, accidents; none of it will have to be in the shadows. If at twelve and thirteen, this isn’t a “big deal” for them to talk about, maybe one day it won’t be a big deal for anyone.

Forgive my slightly macabre Harry Potter reference

Last week, my co-worker, the one who had a mirror pregnancy to my first one, had her baby. She was a month early, but all are doing very well. And it’s odd, because I’m happy for her, for their family, but it’s this distant, sort of removed kind of happy. Part of me was grateful her baby came early; grateful she didn’t deliver on Charlie’s due date in November — which was a definite possibility since our pregnancy timelines had been nearly the same. For most of the day when I found out I was fine. Until hubs came home and I said it out loud. Then the floodgates opened. Not for long, but they did.

Because sometimes I still wonder: why me? Why Charlie? Why our family?

If you’ve read or watched Harry Potter, do you remember the part where they talked about the prophecy saying the Chosen One would be a boy born at the end of July? Which Harry was — but so was Neville. Somewhere along the way I heard something like — the Chosen One could just have easily been Neville. His parents were in the Order, too. Fighting against Voldemort. He was born at the end of July, same year as Harry. The only reason Harry ended up being the Chosen One was because Voldemort thought it was him and thus made it so.

Now, I know this is far-fetched. I know it’s a work of fiction and so many holes could be poked in the Chosen One theory. I know it isn’t real life.

But I still make parallels. Because of our similar pregnancy timelines, within two days of each other, I can’t help but wonder why my baby was chosen to leave. Why not hers?

And before anyone gets up in arms, let me be clear: In NO WAY do I wish her baby had died. Not ever, even in the black mass of my grief immediately after we lost Charlie.

But because there is no answer for us, because there never will be, there will always be a part of me that looks for the why. Even if it isn’t there. And even if I’m so grateful for the life I’m growing now.