Dear Body

Dear Body, I’m sorry.

Dear Body, thank you.

When Charlie died, I blamed you. I blamed you for not doing the one thing that was supposed to be the most natural thing you could do. I blamed you for not sending me the signals that something was wrong. I thought you were defective, that you wouldn’t ever be able to do anything right. When we started trying again, I went ahead and blamed you ahead of time in case we were unsuccessful.

When I did get pregnant again, I didn’t trust you. I held my breath for months, convinced you would fail me again, fail the new baby. When we learned the level of amniotic fluid was lower than optimal, I thought of all the ways that could be detrimental to the baby, and I blamed you for not being able to regulate the fluid. After I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, I was so angry that you’d become insulin-resistant, and further placed the baby at risk. When the placenta showed signs of being three weeks more aged than it was supposed to, I laid yet another strike against you.

I spent most of the last trimester feeling like I was in limbo, so worried that you wouldn’t be able to sustain her until birth. I was so grateful when they finally induced me — but when the induction failed, it was another in a long list of things that was your fault. Why couldn’t you just get things right?

Body, I’m so sorry. For blaming you again and again, for being so angry, for the times I felt like I hated you. I was so filled with fear that I couldn’t see all the gifts you were giving me.

When Charlie died, there was nothing you could have done to change it. But you tried. You didn’t send me signals that anything as wrong because you were trying so hard to make it not so. You were trying to keep Charlie safe and warm inside for as long as you could.

When we started to try again you got ready right away, and almost immediately Birdy came into existence. While I worried about you failing, you persevered every day to help Birdy grow. You battled the low fluid, the gestational diabetes, the placental lakes, the aging placenta, and my fear — and you did it all while keeping Birdy safe.

Oh, Body, you must have been so tired. And then the induction happened and I willed you to let her go so I could have her outside. The process further exhausted us all but you wouldn’t give up on her. And though I was devastated, your stubbornness meant she got more time to develop those lungs and prepare for the wild world.

Even with my lack of faith in you, you never failed me — never failed us. You have worked so hard this year. Even in my anxious moments, please know I marveled at how you carried her life.

Body, thank you. Thank you for more than I know how to say.

You look different now, you feel different. The stretch marks, the saggy skin, the scar that will come; these are all reminders of what you accomplished for me. Once again you are working hard, this time to help me recover.

I’m sorry I doubted you. Thank you for your strength. Body, you are a warrior.

Bringing Birdy Home

It’s hard to believe I haven’t really been on here since January, but at the same time, not that hard to believe at all.

Though the past couple months have been chock-full of stuff to write about, the most monumental and literally life changing is that Birdy was born!

I tried my best to fight for what was best for her all the way up until she took her first breath of air, and thankfully she is doing well. But let me tell you, mom-guilt is real and (at least for me) kicked in before she was even technically born.

Right now, we’re getting into some semblance of a routine as a new family of three, and Hubs and I are learning how to operate on less than optimal sleep (which I know is par for the course). So often I look at Birdy and still can’t believe she’s here, that she’s real, that we made a tiny human, that not too long ago she lived inside of me. I get that it’s biology, I understand how it scientifically happens — but that doesn’t change that to me she is some kind of miraculous.

While I’m on maternity leave, in addition to spending much needed time with her, I’d like to pick back up my writing on here. My idea is that over the next couple months I’ll write some new posts that chronicle the last couple months of pregnancy with her, her entry into the world, new mama-dom, and throw in some book recommendations, etc. as well. We’ll see how far I get on this, because obviously Birdy-time is my priority; but as I’ve been told by multiple sources it’s still important to take care of myself as well, and I think this could be part of how I do that.

(From the unfinished drafts archive) — I am 1 in 4

(I started this post back in October, because it was pregnancy and infant loss awareness month. I never quite finished it, but it’s real for how I felt at the time (and some days still do) so I thought I’d share it with you):

I am 1 in 4. I never wanted to be. I never thought I would be. I never got a choice. I never got a reason. And I never will. But I’m stuck in the flippin’ club no matter what.

I constantly struggle with whether to speak or keep letting others just swim along. I started this blog because I didn’t feel like I could be honest about everything I was going through on Facebook. I still don’t feel like I can be on that platform.

But 6 months and a second pregnancy later, the ignorance of people when it comes to miscarriage still angers me.

My dear acquaintance, it’s so good to know you…

…for strength of your hand, that is loving, and giving; and Happy New Year, with love overflowing, with joy in our hearts for a blessed new year… — Regina Spektor

Happy 2019, blogosphere! I know I’ve been MIA for essentially two months, and I’ll get to that. But first, I just want to shout out into the void that having this space where I can share (often unfiltered) with all of you, some of you, or none of you, has been so important to my psychological well-being as I weathered the shit-storm that 2018 wrought upon my heart.

Yesterday, for the first time in quite awhile, I got out Charlie’s memory box. As the year came to a close, I felt like I needed to revisit it. As you all know, there is never a moment when Charlie isn’t in my heart, but it was important to me to go through the tangible reminders. And lordy-be as soon as I opened that box the emotions overwhelmed me and the crying started; but strangely, I kind of appreciated that — y’know? I went through the sonograms, pregnancy announcement and congrats cards, the lone onesie and the baby boots, and then the condolence cards and gifts. One pendant stood out to me, just like it had when I received it; it says, “I carry you in my heart”. It’s from an ee cummings poem that I’ve always liked, though until Charlie it held different meaning for me. When I read those words again yesterday, they just seemed extra poignant. Because I do — I carry Charlie in my heart. As much as I wanted to, for reasons I’ll never quite know, I couldn’t carry him in my body. So, my heart is where he’ll stay.

It’s kind of odd, because the closer we get to bringing our Birdy baby into the world, the more I think about how she wouldn’t be here if not for Charlie. I struggle with that sometimes, because if I had been given a choice, if any maybe-mama like me had had an actual choice — how the hell would we have decided which child we lost? Every now and then I ponder if that’s why the choice wasn’t ours to make.

And then I think too, about how we’ll tell Birdy about Charlie someday. I wonder how you go about that, because Hubs and I decided pretty immediately that Charlie isn’t a secret we would be keeping from any other children we may have. I keep coming back to this: “Before you, there was another child. He helped to give us you.” I mean, hopefully by the time we share this story with her I’ll have something better prepared, but that’s where I’m at right now.

Speaking of Birdy, here’s her update: With the fear hanging over our heads about what the low amniotic fluid levels might mean for her and the pregnancy, we were referred to a maternal fetal specialist, who did manage to take the edge of the worry — a bit. A week before Christmas, at a follow-up appointment with them, we got the good news that the levels had reached the “average” range, and were no longer considered low! At the same time, we learned that I had failed the glucose test spectacularly and now had gestational diabetes. Trading one worry for another.

Holy crap, can I tell you how awful I felt? Emotionally, not physically. I was shocked when they told me about the GD because I hadn’t felt “off” in any way, had barely gained five pounds the entire pregnancy, and never experienced the swelling everyone kept saying would come at the end of the second trimester. Oh, but emotionally, I was an absolute mess. I felt immensely guilty, even though I hadn’t done anything wrong — I felt like I couldn’t do anything right no matter how hard I tried, like my body was letting me down once again, like there were a mass litany of things that were just wrong with me and I couldn’t do anything about it.

I went to a class to gain more information and learn how to control the GD with a very strict diet (oh my God, there are carbs in EVERYTHING — no longer are fruits and veggies just considered “healthy”, now you can’t have them before X-time and then only if you eat X kind, etc.). The grocery store became a minefield that could easily start a meltdown on my end because I was trying so hard to follow all of the rules to control the GD but I was so overwhelmed! But I just kept telling myself that if I followed the rules, my blood sugar levels would be fine and everything else would be fine. I mean, that’s the way things are supposed to work! Except it wasn’t because no matter what I did my morning fasting and ketone levels where high. So then they put me on medicine to help those stabilize (which they are and I’m grateful for) but it just felt like one more damn thing I’d failed at.

[I know I’m complaining; I know others have it so much worse; but that doesn’t mean this isn’t still hard for me.]

Here comes the sun though — The doctors said despite all of this, Birdy is doing fine. She’s right where she should be growth and development-wise. As she’s growing and getting stronger, I’ve finally been able to feel her move around, which is such a blessing because it lets me know she still kicking in there (get it?). Last night, Hubs even got to feel her move, which was so great, because she’s been a bit contrary about that every time we’ve tried before!

So, that’s what I’m trying to focus on the most — she is okay, and that’s the most important thing. As Hubs reminded my tear-stained self yesterday when I was flipping 2018 the bird, it was a really difficult year of loss and grief and storm weathering — but 2018 also gave us two-thirds of Birdy. And there’s no arguing with the blessing of that!

Happy New Year, and better times ahead for us all!

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.

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.