Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Tonight, Peter and I spent the evening at Mass. It was a beautiful service, full of beauty and hope. But to me, there was something missing... Three someones... As we sat there, together, holding hands, all I could think of how much we have gained- and lost- this year. What an amazing and beautiful year. 3 babies... 3 beautiful, precious babies who chose us to be their parents. And the losses... It hurts too much to even think about at times. Most times... Right now...

And so, as we prepare for bed, I'll lay awake again, I'm sure, as I have each night for the last week or so. And then tomorrow, I'll get up before the sun to get to church and get it unlocked for the Christmas Masses. I'm the Sacristan for 7:30am, and then after breakfast with Peter's parents and my dad, we leave for Tennessee. We're gone through New Year's. We needed to get away, but at the same time, I dont want to be anywhere else.

Today, it's just what it is. Half an hour til Christmas. Christmas. I cant believe we are here.

Mother Angelica, in a replay of one of her shows, asked "What are you going to give Jesus on his birthday?"

O Master grant that I make seek to console, rather to console. To understand than to be understood; to love rather than to be loved.

Merry Christmas, as much as it can be merry for all of us.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Alexander's Memorial Mass

We had Alexander's service on Saturday, December 20th. It was a lovely service. The pastor of our church was the celebrant, and our parochial vicar concelebrated with him. Our music director once again played and a dear friend of ours once again cantored. The music was beautiful: verses 2 and 3 of The Name of God; Remember Your Love; Now We Remain (the only shared song of the two services); and Prayer of St. Francis. Each song was special to us for certain reasons, even though most would be considered "Advent" or even in the correct liturgical position.

The refrain to The Name of God (David Haas): "I will take the cup of life, I will call God's name all my days." It's normally a communion song, but it is one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard and, as we were selecting music, the second verse really touched us: "The dying of those who keep faith is precious to our God. I am your servant called from your hands, you have set me free." And then, the third verse, just spoke to us as well. It was as though the second verse was telling us that Alexander's life and death were precious to God, and then our son telling us "I am (God's) servant; I am free". In feeling his peace and his happiness that he is with God, the third verse was our words to God. "To you I will offer my thanks and call upon your name. You are my promise for all to see, I love your name, O God!"

Remember Your Love (Mike Balhoff, Darryl Ducote, and Gary Daigle) is a Lenten song. Lent is a time of penitence, a time when we recall our sinfulness and our allientation from God, when we feel that perhaps God has abandoned us and we beg Him to forgive us and take us back. In a time of grief, I think we feel that we have been abandoned too. I ask everyday, "Why, God, why?", knowing that the answers will never come, that they couldn't possibly be good enough... This song was that. It was that plea to please not have been abandoned. It was the reinforcement that God is still there, the telling yourself so that you can believe. The prayer that God will hear and make His presence known. "Remember your love and your faithfulness, O Lord. Remember your people and have mercy on us, Lord." I wont quote every verse (there are 5), but some of the lines are: "The Lord is my life and my refuge, when I call he hears"; "O Lord, hear the sound of my call and answer me. My heart cries out for your presence; it is you I seek".

Now We Remain (David Haas) is the only repeat from Nicholas and Sophia's service. Had anyone asked, I would have said it would have been "You Are Mine" also a David Haas song, that we have sang to all the children. ("Do not be afraid, I am with you. I have called you each by name. Come and follow me, I will lead you home. I love you and you are mine.") It's a special song to us. But, Now We Remain... That too is a special song. That is the song that I think defines what Catholics think about living and dying. "We hold the death of the Lord deep in our hearts. Living, now we remain with Jesus the Christ." While the refrain symbolizes being physically alive and having just received the Eucharist, as a funeral song, it symbolizes eternal life and being with Christ. We chose to have only verses 1 and 4 sang (had the church been full, we would have done all four, but with a smaller group, those two were the most important to us). "Once we were people afraid, lost in the night. Then by your cross we were saved; dead became living, life from your giving..." "We are the presence of God; this is our call. Now to become bread and wine: food fort he hungry, life for the weary, for to live with the Lord, we must die with the Lord." Wow. I am crying now and it's just me writing the words. I dont think there is anything else I can say except that my children are with God and as sad as that makes me on earth, my heart knows that they are at such peace and are happy.

The recessional hymn was sort of the ode to little Alexander, our little "Paz", our peacebringer. We've taken to calling him Paz at home again, and for Peter, who doesn't like nicknames, I find it so amazing that he says "Paz would have been his nickname". It's really sweet. We chose the Prayer of St. Francis, as arranged by the Sebastian Temple. It's really just beautiful. It turns the prayer into lyrics (the prayer can be seen in the sidebar, on the reverse of Alexander's prayer card). We chose it because this prayer has been speaking to us since Alexander's conception and we really feel like our son had a connection to St. Francis and this beautiful saying. Perhaps he would have chosen "Francis" as his Confirmation name... Who knows...

Both of our priests really made the service so special. Our pastor's homily was spoken directly to us. We used the readings of the day, which meant the Gospel was the Annunciation. Peter and I feel closer to the Blessed Mother than we did before because she walked this road too, this road of losing a child... No matter how old your child is, they are still your baby. I'm sure cradling him, she was cradling her little boy. I can't see the Pieta anymore without getting so upset that I have to leave. It was always upsetting but never like this. Anyway... Father talked about how this young girl had plans, plans that seemed to be falling into place when suddenly everything changes. I can't type all that he said, but it was comforting and sometimes that is all you need to remember... Our vicar had actually come to the hospital and he helped make the church so lovely. One of the sections he read was part of the Eucharistic prayer, when we ask the Saints to pray for us. When he said "St. Alexander", I just burst into tears. My little boy... my little saint in heaven... The other part that was so touching was how often our son's baptism was referred to. It makes me so happy to remember those moments, how he moved, how he squirmed at the water and cuddled into his father's hand just a little closer. How he put his little thumb in his mouth before drifting off to the sleep where he met his brother and sister, and saw God face to face...

It was a much smaller service than Nicholas and Sophia's. The weather here (we are near Philadelphia, north, in Montgomery County) was nasty on Friday which made traveling not so great, but also, we scheduled this one much sooner (3 days before vs 3 weeks before) because of the holidays. Instead of 110, perhaps we had 25? So, it was a more intimate gathering, but was just as beautiful. Folks came back to the house for lunch afterwards and it was nice to see folks looking at not only little Alex's pictures, but those of all three of our precious little saints. His baby book was a big read, as was the book I had picked up at the bookstore called "Mommy Dont Cry: There Are No Tears In Heaven". People talked and hung out, and we were so tired when everyone left around 5pm. A small group, but still a treasure.

Tomorrow, our son would be a month old. I really can't believe that a month has passed... A month... It sounds so long, but it isn't when your life doesn't move on like the hands on a clock... Fruit Loops for breakfast, PB&J for lunch, tuna sandwiches and tomato soup for dinner. I would have eaten this menu everyday. I don't even like Fruit Loops! But my son did... For whatever reason, I craved this food like nothing else. So, tomorrow, this is what we'll eat, and we'll remember. We'll have a little candle on a dessert and we'll sing "happy birthday" and we'll remember that, one month ago, this special little boy, this instrument of God's peace, this beautiful child that we are blessed to call our son, came into our lives.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I Can't Believe I'm Here Again

I'm planning another child's Memorial Mass. I can't believe this. My baby son... My little boy... The little one whose Christening Gown sits half finished across the room. Instead of his baptismal party, I'm ordering food for the "light luncheon" aluded to on the notice of when his Mass will be held.

After Nicholas and Sophia, we waited 6 weeks to have a service. Part of that was the utter shock and despair- neither of us was even able to talk to our priest. He was our parochial vicar (asst. pastor) and we had gotten close to him with our RCIA work (he ran the RCIA program). He was okay with letting us wait and, because of the Easter season, we ended up pushing it back to the week after. He is no longer at the parish, and we've been talking with the pastor about the service. It's Saturday. As in the day after tomorrow. There are two reasons for this. It's more "correct" to have a service right away. We aren't doing a burial, so this isn't all that important to us, but it is more "the right way" of doing things. Also, Christmas is soon, and then we are away the week after, and then in January, there are things planned on the weekends (for the church and for us). I'd prefer not to do a weekday because of work and family travel. Which leaves booked weekends. And I dont want this in February. Nicholas's Mass intention is scheduled for the 31st of January since Feb. 1st was taken, and Sophia's is scheduled on her birthday, on the 16th. I don't want something else in there, and I don't want to wait until March to have Alexander's service. Sunday will be 4w since he was born, and Tuesday will be the full month mark.

This is rough because our family is spread out. So, combined with the holidays, we've already had a huge number tell us that they can't make it. Which is okay. The service is to celebrate him and is for us. But still, it saddens me that folks will miss out on his gathering. Especially because there isn't a chance to make "the next one". It breaks my heart.

I can't believe I'm in the place again... This place where you are trying to make everything perfect because you know there won't be a second chance... This place where you have one moment to share the life of your child in a fleeting instant...

I ordered the food. I'm meeting with our pastor this morning. I'll start cleaning the house tonight. I have to finish working on the Mass booklet. I need to mail the Christmas cards. All these peripheal things... All the things that don't matter because the only thing that matters is my children. The ones whose stockings hang on the wall, who have gifts under the tree. The ones who wont rip the paper off and stumble from person to person. The ones that my arms are empty of and long for.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Lack of Wisdom

So, last night we traveled to Allentown to have my last two wisdom teeth pulled. I really love the dentist and, if we lived closer, he'd be our "real" dentist. As it was, we have only seen him to have my wisdom teeth pulled, and now I'm all done! It's kind of bittersweet in a strange way... He is awesome and QUICK. By the time you start to think "this is going to hurt", it's all over! So, he pulled both and wrote me a prescription for pain, which he recommended filling ASAP and taking one before the numbness wore off. So we went to a local CVS and filled it, so by the time the numbness did fade and the inklings of pain started, the vicodin kicked in. I'm actually remarkably awake and alert (more than I would think) and the pain in low. I was able to eat dinner last night, although I have been taking the vic every 4 hours. He recommended that for the first 24-36 hours, then said to try and let it go a bit and see how it hurts. I remember doing that last time as well, and by the 2nd day, the pain wasnt that bad, not even like a tooth ache. Tonight, I have to start the salt water rinses, and from there, I remember it really fixing itself. Waking up, though, wasnt that bad (of course, I woke up in the middle of the night and had to medicate) and I feel okay now. I still have the cotton wads for bleeding, but two isn't any worse than having one removed, LOL. There really isn't swelling, just soreness.

Dr. Bailey called this morning. My glucose and diabetic screening all came back negative, so that's awesome! That means 2 less pills each day! No more Metformin. And the other clotting test came back negative as well. So no genetic predisposition to a clotting disease that could hurt our babies. That's at least one relief.

Today, as I sit at my desk and look out the window at the snow covered world outside, I feel almost empty... My heart hurts. The good thing about physical pain, I suppose, is that it doesnt even compare to the rest of me. So screw it!

Did I tell the story of Maggie? If I did, I'm sorry to repeat, but it's a sweet story. On Thanksgiving, Peter was taking my Dad home and they stopped by the grocery store (Dad doesn't drive). While there, Peter said he felt the children leading him to a certain area, where there was a giant panda! They told him to buy it for Mommy (that's me!) and so he did. I can only imagine what a giant panda cost at the supermarket, but I go upstairs that night and, on our bed, is this huge stuffed animal. Well, I sleep next to that thing every night now and last night, in my pain, I cuddled it close on the couch while Peter held me and stroked my hair (what's left of it since I cut it all off last week!). It's funny, I feel them warm and close when I touch Maggie (the name that came to me the second I saw her). It sounds nuts, but I love that stuffed animal. She's actually on the couch, waiting for me to come back and lay down...

Christmas is getting closer... I can't believe it... I really can't...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My little girl

Today, my love, you are 10 months old. How is it that so much time has gone by since my dear little girl was born and then left this world?

At 6:08pm, we were in the car, driving to the dentist. We counted down those moments, talking about your labor and your birth, your beautiful face, all those wonderful little girl things and dreams. Our precious baby girl... We love you so much, Sophia...

And then, last night, Daddy made your birthday meal and Mommy was even able to eat it! And then, we had a raindeer cupcake to celebrate. As we sang "Happy Birthday", the flame on the candle danced, and even in our silence afterwards, as we watched it burn down, the flame moved. And you were with us... We felt you there...

I miss you so much, my dear one. You, who looked like me, who shared my smile, you... my precious daughter... The one who sings the Holy so loudly in church, who never stops talking to me... You, that little imagine of me. How much I love you!

Hug your brothers for me in heaven, dear one. I'll hug all of you forever in my heart.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Postnatal Check-up

Well, I had my postnatal today. My cervix has closed, my BP was high but stable, and my blood/urine tests were better than before. On a good note, my uric acid dropped to 8 point something (7 is normal) so it is on it's way back if it isn't already. My liver function tests were still high (I forget exactly what) but they are lower than before so they have started their descent as well. The blood clotting tests were all negative, so finally, a problem that I dont have. We spent about an hour with Dr. B. discussing results and what we'll do "next time". Short end of the stick, there's really nothing that can be done about the preeclampsia and I now have a 1 in 5 chance of getting the severe version very early, which could mean delivery at 24w (if I can get that far). Which is upsetting. There's no guarantee, obviously, but a 20% chance is a 20% chance. And, then, there's the cervix issue. He really thinks that a cerclage will hold and get us full term (or as full term as preeclampsia might make possible). I hope that he's right. So, end of 12w, and a stitch. Shirodkar.

I feel so empty inside. Just... Empty. I alternate between sadness and a feeling that has no name. I feel better when Peter is here, holding me or just here. Something. Some reminder of those three perfect people who have made my life better. Some reminder of the right in the world. Someone else to see so that I dont have to see me, the one whose body failed.

I have to do some housework... I have home office hours shortly and I need to vacuum.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Moving Forward, But Not Moving On...

As much as it ached and as hard as it was for my fingers to even dial the number, I called Dr. Lee's office this morning and made an appointment. She's in the speed dial, so I didn't have to type in the numbers, just find her and press send. I looked at the number for a long time before calling... Before hearing that familiar message and pressing 3 to make an appointment. When Michelle's pleasant voice picked up, I identified myself and said that I was calling to schedule an appointment in February. I'm still surprised the words made their way out.

She immediately knew who I was (the joy of working with so one-on-one with everyone from the receptionist to the doctor) and said how very sorry she was. Then she asked if there was anything they could do to help us. It was sweet. She asked how we were really doing and we spoke about Alexander and how things progressed. She was so sweet, just talked for a few minutes like we were old friends, then said that the entire office has been thinking of us and keeping us in their prayers. And then we booked our appointment for Monday, February 9th, at 9:30am.

This road has been long and it sucks, but we have been really blessed with a kickass RE and a wonderful OB. Of all the crap, those are two things that we have no problem with. I dread the drive back to Bethlehem, and the familiar territory of the injections and the ultrasounds and the bloodwork, but Dr. Lee is amazing. Not just in that she has truly helped us, but in that she cares. I believe, 100%, that she cares for us as people and parents, not just as patients. And that makes such a difference in a journey like this. Dr. Bailey, as well. He cares. We aren't just names on a file; we are people and parents who are going through hell and are trying to dig ourselves out of agony's grip. And he is there to offer a hand and help. It matters. So much.

I can't believe that I made the appointment. I know that a part of me will never move on, that it didnt move on after Nicholas and Sophia and, although Alexander has been added, I am still there... Still in that place where a parent goes when their child dies. No matter what, you are still the mother of a dead baby (or, in my case, dead babies). You are forever an orphaned parent, regardless of the living children you have or may have. But then there is the other part. The other part that loves her children so much that, no matter how many she has, she will want to have more. Because they give her purpose. Because they were the thing that was missing from her life and have now filled her heart with joy and purpose. That part of me is the one who made the call and scheduled the appointment...

And now the countdown begins... Less than 2 months away until we see Dr. Lee and our journey towards our 4th bundle of joy begins.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Still Breathing...

I'm still alive, although days like today I wish I'd died with them... God, the missing is awful. Yet, it's right, too. The missing is a sign of how much I love them, in a way, and I wouldnt give up the missing if it meant giving them up, just like I wouldnt give up the hurt if it meant that... But, man does it hurt... Like a knife that has stripped you up and down and then come back for another pass. But, I'm still here.

Saturday, Dr. B's lab form arrived. Yesterday, after my regular dentist's appointment (and, of course, there are issues because I need one more thing on my plate- I have to go in to have a filling replaced next week and make an appt with an oral surgeon to have my two upper wisdom teeth removed) I went to the Lab. The woman knows me by sight now, never a good sign, and took me back for my urine test right away. I had to fill the cup because he was running 3 urine tests. Then, the blood work... 15 tests. 12 vials. The first stick produced nothing; my vein collapesed right away. I guess after a week of nonstop testing, it just couldnt take it anymore. The other arm was a champ and we got all the vials- full I might add- without any issue. Which is good. I dont think I could have handled another poke or prod. The results for most should be back sometime today and I expect a call from Dr. B. The phleb said that some of the tests have to be sent away for so those might not be back right away. Great... Just something else to wait for.

One of our priests called today to discuss the memorial service. They'd hoped to do it this weekend, but Peter's parents are away (they just decided) so I asked if we could do it next week instead. He's going to consult with the Pastor and get back to me.

I feel so tired and so deeply hurt inside. I had hoped to sit and write for an hour but I think I'll nap instead.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Mother Nature's Guilty Pleasure

So, yesterday... Sarah picked me up and we drove to the hospital. You've gotta love Philly traffic on the Sku... We must have sat still, for no reason, for 20 minutes before finally moving and hitting the City Ave exit. From there, straight forward. Get to his office and, I shit you not, it is empty- then a woman comes in with her few days old baby and everyone starts to freak (in a good way). I wanted to shrivel and die. Right there. On the floor. Deb, Dr. B.'s nurse, came out and did some freak, saw me there, and took me to a room right away. She hugged me and even cried. That was rough but it also made me feel like she really cares too. She took my BP (high, but not as high as was feared) and gave me a lab slip. Went downstairs to the registration for the lab (LONG) and then the lab (LONGER) but was lucky enough that the phleb got it on the first poke (yay!) Back to Dr. B.'s where there are now 4 folks waiting. Sarah whips out her knitting and, as she's been doing all morning, makes jokes that, for the moment, lighten the mood enough that I'm not ready to shoot myself with 4 happy pregnant women sitting around me. There's another doctor in his practice now, so 2 of them weren't his. When Deb came out to grab one of them and saw me (I didnt have an appt, he had just said to come in and that he'd see me), she took me back next- to the us room, where my entire pregnancy felt like it was spent. That was rough. But, soon, Dr. B. came in and we talked. Truly, I love this man.

The lab was backed up so my repeat tests weren't ready, so we discussed what we did know. The previous tests showed elevated uric acid (double the norm) and high liver functions, which while not terribly high, showed liver irritation, which means the preeclampsia has made a mark. He took my BP chart (which I was keeping at home) and was happy no more 100s in the diastolic but they were still in the mid-high 90s, with meds. He didnt want to increase the meds to mask symptoms, since more symptoms mean hospital admittance. We discussed the headaches and pain, and decided at what level I need to go to the ER. Then, we discussed Alexander a bit, and finally our next pregnancy. We talked about the Shirakdar stitch (think basket weave through the cervix) as soon as week 12 ends, which would mean 2w of bedrest and then through 36 weeks on modified duty. He said I could do light housework, light shopping, but no more than 90m - 2h on my feet at a time, with 60-90m off after. I'd have us every 2w again to make sure the stitch was holding up through 24w then possibly weekly until 36w, when it would come out. In addition, some of my results indicated **possibly** Factor V Leiden. Basically, Mother Nature's way of adding insult to injury. He wants to test now just to be sure, but even if it comes back negative, will run again when pregnancy since, sometimes, it only presents clearly when pregnant. This is a clotting disorder, which can cause preterm labor and still birth. I know... Let's see what else Mother Nature has in store.

His hope was that the repeat tests would show a decrease and that we would be on our way back to some symblance of healthy. He said he didnt expect my BP to go back to "normal" for 2-6w. He also said that he thought I should stay home 4-6w from Alexander's birth, not completely for physical reasons, although he said that played a role, but for my mental health. That just because I feel like I should be able to take it because I'm an "old hat" doesn't mean I'm not going to crash when I least expect it. And while there is no guarantee that wont be after the first of the year, at least to give myself the holidays. And he gave me a doctor's note to that effect. I can work from home a few hours to do payroll, etc., but nothing major. I left and gave him a card that included the memorial card for Nick and Sophie, which I hadn't given him when we first started back with him because... I'm not sure why. To say I forgot sounds bad, but it's true... And the one for Alex, which just came in.

So, last night, I was feeling scared (I've read on Factor V, which it was funny, he got a kick that I knew anything about it b/c it is rare and, when he said "how do you know about heparin injections?" (one of the treatments), I actually laughed and said "I'm a librarian", to which he got a kick). But, I felt okay, too. Like perhaps things were going to get better. But, that just couldn't be. We were at Sarah's for dinner and my cell rang at 6:40pm. I recognized the first numbers as part of the hospital. It was Dr. B. He started off by thanking me for the card, by saying that we were good people and that he was honored we had chose him for our doctor and for this journey with our children. I almost cried because what he said touched me so much. But then, the primary reason fro the call... The results were back and they were worse than before. Uric acid went up a bit more and my liver function tests doubled. He wasn't pleased. He hadn't ordered the Factor V panel (b/c he wasn't sure until he reviewed the file that he wanted to test now when it could be a false negative) but based on the other results is sending more tests (including repeats of the ones done) and the thrombosis panel. What made me more sad and scared, though, is that he gave me his personal cell with instructions to call him for admittance if A, B, or C happened with my BP or how I was feeling. He's not on call this weekend and wanted to make sure we could get hold of him. I can't imagine things are great if he felt the need to give me that.
Last night, I didn't really sleep. I held Peter a lot while he slept and mostly just tossed and turned. There's a level of it that is head pain and the feeling that my head my explode under the pressure. But more of it was mental. I'm truly scared. Pre-eclampsia is a problem usually relieved by going into labor. Because of this, there is an even greater risk that I will become pre-eclampsic in subsequent pregnancies. I'm already at an increased risk of preterm labor, which we are trying to stop. Dr. B. says that, best case with pre-e, is that they can get me to 28w-30w. If the pre-e doesn't present until after 24w, best case is 34w. If after 28w, then full term. But, it's a guessing game. No one can give an answer until we are pregnant again and the symptoms start. And right now, the rules are just get to 12w so that we can do the stitch and hope for the best.

This sucks on two fronts. Not only am I scared because of how I feel, but it impacts how I mourn. I miss my son. I miss all my children, but right now, the hurt of Alexander's death is more than I feel like I can bear right now. It has cut me to a quick that even Nicholas and Sophia didn't touch- I think because I knew such a deep grief with them. I feel like the focus has moved from our son... our precious, perfect son... to me, this mother who deserves to feel like shit because she's killed another baby. And while we can all argue the semantics of it, my sons and my daughter are dead because my body failed them in the most basic of ways. And while Peter is worried about even leaving me alone to go to work, and while our parents are worried about my health and the whens of when we will try again... I want to mourn my son. I want people to stop thinking about me and mourn him. And I know that they do, but I hate that now my body can hijack even that most basic thing.

And, on top of that, the planning for more kids. We want a big family. Always have. And until we can afford to adopt a brood, our insurance covers what allows us to try for babies just like everyone else (given, a more watched version of everyone else...). We've always planned on trying again soon after the births of our babies, because we both would like closer ages if possible. But there's an added dimension after you suffer a child's death... Everyone else suddenly wants to know your business too. And the things they say... Even our parents have made the slip of "One day you'll have a living child" as though a living child is better than a dead child or a living child replaces a dead one. It isn't like that. It doesn't work that way. And the rest of our family and some of our friends... It's the same or the "why dont they just adopt" as though adoption is some second rate option. I realize that, because I'm adopted, I have a chip on my shoulder about that comment, but still... I feel like responding "why dont you pay for it?". Do they think we havent'??? Do they think that over 9 barren years and after the pain of losing 2 very wanted babies to deaths too early to even fathom for most people that we didnt look into it at some point??? Do they even care??? Or is that the miracle answer to them? Do they know that we've gone through 2 adoption losses? Children that, although we'd never met, we'd fallen in love with, only to have something get in the way of adopting them and seeing them go to other homes (homes, I'm sure, that they were meant to be with and are happy with their parents, no doubt)... No, they don't know that. They dont know that, when we pray for our children, we include two names that no one else ever hears, ever sees... They don't know...

Today is a bad day. I am feeling so low and am trying to perk up, as though that will somehow help the weekend and the repeat blood and urine tests on Monday. I am trying to remember that our precious son's photo album is complete and that I can enjoy that time with him, looking back and remembering. I am trying to remember that there are so many people going through this journey with us, feeling this pain with us, holding all of us close to their hearts that- even though they may not personally know this pain or loss- they are so close to us and our children that they go through this with us, not looking at us. These are blessings and I am trying, desperately, to hold onto these...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

PostPartum News

In addition to horrible back and neck pain, my blood pressure has been extremely high (the highest reading was on Monday afternoon, 158/104). Peter called our OB and he faxed over blood tests, which we had done Tuesday morning. Dr. B. called this afternoon and thinks that the issue is postpartum pre-eclampsia. In addition to high pressures, my uric acid results were elevated, along with liver enzymes. He wanted to admit me to the hospital tonight, but I feel so much better than I did even yesterday that I asked him if, assuming my BP doesn't spike again, if I could stay home and come in tomorrow. He said that, as long as that stayed the same (bottom numbers not in the 100s) and that I had no screwed up vision, then fine. But if either of those change, then to the hospital ASAP. I have to go down tomorrow for more testing and a consult, with the possibility of admittance. My best friend, Sarah, is driving me down. It took a lot of convincing for Peter to go back to work today; he accepted several meetings for tomorrow and I didnt want him to cancel. It took hours to convince him of that, but we agreed that, if I have to be admitted, I will call him and he will come down; if Dr. B. wants to talk and consult, then I will call him on speaker. If things start to go downhill, he will come ASAP. But if it is just going to be testing and reflexes, then he will stay at work and we will touch base when I get home.

I've tried to do things today. I worked on Alexander's photo album. I finished updating it with the pregnancy things I still had left and I put his pictures in it today. Now, all it needs is his birth story, why we chose his names, and his little name cards. Once those are done, it is finished. I still havent updated his journal... I just havent been able to...

We put up his pictures, too. Our friend, Chelsea, who made a beautiful needlepoint for Nick and Sophie, made one for Alex, too. We hung that, and we added Alexander's pictures throughout the house. It is so nice to see them... So very nice... I love having our babies' pictures everywhere.

I feel so sad... My head is pounding (like usual) and my back and neck are killing me. That is worse than the pressure in my head from the high BP. It is just this intense pain. It happened post Nicholas and Sophia as well, more post Sophia than post Nicholas. Peter said it probably is the lack of relaxin and that now I am really feeling the "normal" neck and back pain that I have, but am usually used to. It hurts like hell...

People are dumb... This is my belief... They dont know what to say so they say dumb things... The two dumbest things of this week??? "One day you'll have a 'real' baby" (i.e. a baby who lives)... "I told people you'd lost another one" (i.e. they're just like shoes, sometimes you just lose one)... OMG, pissed off doesn't beging to define how I feel at times. I know they dont know what to say... I know that they dont mean any harm, but... I love my babies. I love them regardless of the fact that they have died. If they'd lived months or years, I'd still love them. The only difference is that I'd have more memories. If they were 10 when they died, would someone say something as stupid as "one day you'll have a baby that lives"? Probably not. (Although who knows?) Maybe they could just acknowledge our babies for who they are, say they are sorry (this is a normal response), and not say anything else if they have nothing else to offer. Telling a grieving parent that "one day" there will be a "healthy" baby that lives... Not good. And, point of interest: my babies have all been healthy. It hasn't been their issue... It's mine...

I talked to Dr. B. on the phone today and he seemed, again, so sad. He actually said that he reviewed our case with another doctor, looking for something he could have done differently. But he couldnt find anything. The risk was just so high and our results were also so high and good. The risk just wasn't outweighed and the risk to Alex was so high... We wouldnt have done the surgery with the results we had and the risk to our little low implanter... I told him that today, that we felt we received outstanding care and that he did all he could. Next time, of course, we will do the surgery after the 12w mark, even with all the risks... We all agree on that... But even he said "It's horrible that all I can offer you is next time, when you're going through this for the third time... It's not fair that all I can offer you is the hope that next time we'll be able to save your baby... I'm sorry." It means a lot to hear that he understands. It really does. I'd drive hours to see Dr. B.

I feel so sad inside. I haven't eaten all day, not since yesterday morning actually, but I don't feel hungry. I think Peter is hungry, though. I should make him dinner.

Angels in the Sand

A beautiful remembrance of our Nicholas and Sophia...

I'll be emailing her to ask for Alexander's as well. What a beautiful gift she gives us.

Monday, December 1, 2008

10m old boy...

My Nicholas... no longer my "baby boy" but now my oldest little boy. 10 months have passed since birthing this precious little saint and the moments that went by before he returned to heaven, the same burst of light that created him in my womb... I never would have thought I could feel as sad as I did in the days following his loss, but I am here again... Oh, my little one, you have taught me so much... So much about love and loss, about how our parenting is so fleeting, whether it lasts an hour or a lifetime, how ultimately, we received you in love and then returned you to love, in love.

So, tonight my little one, we will have your dinner and celebrate your ten months with apple pie! Each month seems to be different, but as long as you are giving orders, we'll keep taking them! This birthday is special because you have an extra voice singing "happy birthday" to you. Take care of your little sister and your baby brother, my son... My big boy...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My heart is gone...

Full Photo Album

I feel so lost right now. My heart is gone... My reason is gone... It took months to get to a place where I thought we could try for baby #3 after Nick and Sophie left us. Not to replace them- no one ever could- but because we wanted a large family and wanted to have many, many children. We were afraid but they gave us such joy that we decided the fear of the pain of losing another child was worth the joy of another baby growing, the promise of the birth of another child. The miscarriage was such a shock; who expects that a baby will not implant? Who imagines being told their baby fertilized but never came into being? We were so sad, but somehow found a way to continue trying. And then our beautiful son... Our Alexander... Who brought us such hope and peace...
The first few weeks were so hard. We were pregnant- but would it last??? Would the baby implant and thrive? Would he make it to the first ultrasound? Would we see his beartbeat? Would we make it to our first prenatal and hear his heartbeat? What about our second prenatal? Would we? And things continued to progress. Every time we saw the baby and he was fine... Every time we measured the cervix and the results were top of the charts... Every new day, with kicks and swooshing... Every yoga class and Bradley class... More and more, we began to believe what everyone was telling us: that Alexander would be fine... that our pregnancy was normal... that, come the spring, our son would be born healthy and happy. It took about 16 weeks, but last Monday, we both had finally accepted that our prenancy was actually normal. That our son was fine and we could relax.

We talked about the things that most parents talk about when they are expecting another baby... The routine things... Who he would be, what he would look like, what the baby showers would be like... There weren't talks of my cervix being possibly faulty... There weren't talks about "what if" he came early. We were, for the first time in so many months, just another set of expectant parents with their hopes and dreams, with their jitters mostly subsided. Everyone was right: our pregnancy was normal. There was nothing to worry about.

I still don't know why Wednesday played out like it did. I can't even think about the why. Part of me feels like it was a blessing in disguise. I was so tired that I'd thought of staying home from yoga. I would have gone to bed early, peed during the night (without really being able to see), gotten up (possibly without noticing any blood) and gone to work, for a day of being on my feet. Would I have gone into labor at work? Would we have had any extra time with him? Would Peter have been with us? Instead, I decided that I'd go to yoga, since it made me feel so much more relaxed. As I walked out the door, I stumbled and fell, landing on my left wrist and left knee. My stomach was protected by my yoga mat and never hit the ground. A complete mess, I went into the house, checking for blood, freaking out, even though I wasnt in pain or bleeding. After calming down and still seeing nothing, I went to the class and it was wonderful. I had such a lovely time, holding my belly, talking to little Alex. It was wonderful and so relaxing. I drove home with such a feeling of peace and planned on succumbing to my peanut butter craving with a PB&J sandwich. I got home and, of course, had to pee. So, I did. And there was no blood, no excess mucus. But something said, check again... So, I did, this time keeping the tissue a little closer, a little longer. And the pink presented. It was so light that for a split second, I thought I was seeing things. But then, the fear hit.

I darted up the stairs and, in a panic, tried to find the number to Lankenau. The first number I called was a bust. The second put me on hold for the OB on call. Running back down the stairs, I checked again. It was pink- and it was pinker. I laid down on the couch and put my feet up. There was still no pain, only my fear. Using my cell, I called Peter... No answer. I tried another choir member... She wasn't there. Finally, the choir director, yelling for her to send Peter home right away. I couldnt breathe, I couldnt control my voice, I was on the verge of tears. I didn't know what to say, what to do. I hung up on Peter, who had taken the director's phone, when the doctor came on the line. Much to my dismay, she basically said that she couldnt advise me, that I would have to call Dr. B.'s answering service. (This is the same OB on call who told me, with an open cervix, to walk around...)

I called the answering service and within a minute or two, Dr. B.'s associate had called me back. He told me that the fall had nothing to do with the bleeding, that bleeding from that would have been a lot quicker than 2 hours later. He said that, for peace of mind, to come to the hospital and that they would admit me to antepartum for overnight monitoring. As I hung up the phone, Peter pulled into the drive. I met him outside and we rushed to the hospital... The staff were waiting for us and we were taken in right away. Within 5 minutes of arriving, a nurse had a doppler strapped to my belly and we heard our beautiful cuddlebug's heartbeat, a steady 155-160 BPM. It was wonderful. She also strapped me in to see if I was having contractions; nothing showed on the monitor. It wasn't until midnight that the resident I'd spoken to on the phone (who couldn't help me) came in and did an ultrasound. Our little boy was playing soccer like usual, jumping up and down on my bladder, moving all over the place, his heartbeat strong. Her physical exam showed my dilated cervix, and this is the only part of the hospital stay that angers me. Common sense tells you that if someone's cervix is open, you stay off your feet. No question. Dr. Genius told me not to use a bedpan, to go to the bathroom, and to just relax until Dr. B. saw me the next day. I fully believe that this order is what allowed my bag and little Alexander's legs to slip into my vagina. I think that, had she given me the advice my doctor gave me the following day (inversion, 100% bedrest, 100% bedpan) that I'd still be in the hospital. In a precarious situation still, no doubt, but I dont think my water would have broken and I dont think labor would have progressed. To the contrary, I think my cervix would have closed and that Dr. B. would have been able to perform the cerclage surgery. I'd like to think that the doctor isn't incompetent, but, in my grief, in my looking for someone to blame, she is the only doctor that didn't live up to par.

In spite of this, I have a beautiful baby boy, to remember, to love, to hold in my heart forever. I can't regret that. I just wish for more time... So much more time...

We ordered Alexander's memorial Mass cards. We worked on them last night and the proofs were emailed to us this morning. It's hard making funeral arrangements when we should be planning a baby shower and day dreaming about his Christening day.

Make me an instrument of your peace... The prayer of St. Francis... This sums up our little boy. He brought us peace. So many times during our hospital stay (and even now), we just felt this enormous peace, the peace of the Divine. There just aren't words to describe it. For example, after my water broke: peace. Pure, unadulterated peace. The nurses and doctors were more upset than we were. Peter even said he knew things were okay because I was fine. No stress, no fear. It was all okay. That was Alexander. He just had a way of setting you at ease with his spirit. We took a nap and afterwards, still no pain, no worry, just peace. When the moments got bad and the worry took over, again this feeling of peace decended. Feelings of love and joy, of hope in a time where hope was scarce. Even when talking to Dr. B.- there was this sense of ease, a feeling he understood and worked with us in. When the bleeding began, there was fear, so much fear, and I think we both knew that Alexander's time was coming. After the ultrasound showed our little boy's heart beating and his little body moving, amid all the blood, after the doctor's told us that there was no hope left... We felt his peace... It gave his father the ability to tell the doctor's that we would follow whatever lead Alex gave us, that we would handle his labor in our way, on our own. That peace, I think, gave them the sense to go away, to let us be, to understand that they wouldnt be called back until our son entered the world. We weren't immune to the hope that our son would wait, that he would hang on and that my placenta would hold, but there was a peace to the situation, his peace, that told us it was alright.

After the priest visiting and prayed over him, and prayed for Peter and I and our labor, a final peace took place. When we were all alone, we faced each other and talked to each other for a while. The contractions seemed to fade away and we took that last, precious sleep together. I can close my eyes and feel Peter's body pressed against mine, his arms wrapped around my expanded belly. I can feel our son moving to find his daddy's hands, whooshing back and forth, kicking, finally settling into his cuddlebug position, resting under the warmth of our hands. That nap was so wonderful... So full of hope and love and peace. He was relaxed and unafraid. He was getting ready to meet his parents, face to face.

When his labor went into full force, there was no crying, no screaming, no utter pain. It was labor, no doubt, and it hurt, sometimes terribly, but there was this stillness... This place that doesn't exist outside of those moments. I'll never forget them. There were perfect kisses from my husband, from the father of our children, Alexander's father, my love... Even now, those kisses transport me to this place of peace and love. There was hand holding like nothing else, as his dark brown eyes guided me through the peace that labor had brought. Finally, there were his voice, telling me that our son was, indeed, as I had thought, being born... That is perfect little legs were coming out, kicking, playing. There was the announcement that his chest was out, that one more gentle push would bring him completely into the world. There was the gasp of wonder and amazement and then the words that announced our son's broad shoulders (like his mommy's) and beautiful head (shaped like his daddy) had finished his birthing process. There was the smile and the words every mother longs to hear: he's moving. Finally, after his cord was cut, there was the moment I'd waited for. Peter brought my precious baby boy to where I could see him, finally in fullness, and said "Our son".

Those words... Our son... Other than "our daughter" (which is equal is perfection), there are no words as beautiful. Not even "I love you", I think. There is something so sacred about those words... Our son or our daughter... Our child... Our baby... The culmination of our love, exploding in divine creation, perfection. You look at this child, this perfect image of all that is right in the world, and you know that there is nothing you wouldnt do, nothing you wouldnt give, for this baby. You would lay down your life a hundred times over, you would rip your own soul out, you would descend to the bowels of hell and risk the ultimate loss, over and over again, just for a moment holding, kissing, feeling, loving... There is no pain too great, no sorrow too much for that single moment. You look at your baby, your beautiful, sacred child, and you know that there is no love greater than that of parent and child. It changes everything. It makes your life worthwhile and purposeful. It conquers everything else. Because, when you stare into the face of your perfect child, there is nothing else. There never could be.

Today, I sit here, broken. My heart has burst into thousands of shards, each more painful than the one before, as they stab at what is left of my fractured soul. But it has broken not because of my grief, but because of my love. Because it wasn't big enough to hold the explosion of love that my son gave me. Because of that love, today, I survive.

Monday, November 24, 2008


On Monday, I felt quite secure after a great cervical measurement of 4. But, on Wednesday night, I wiped after going to the bathroom and saw a bit of blood. Peter and I immediately rushed to our hospital, 45 minutes away, and although we heard our precious boy's heartbeat, the physical exam showed that my cervix had dilated to 2. We were admitted but, since they couldn't get a hold of our doctor, the resident told me that I could go to the bathroom, etc. The next morning, our doctor revoked those orders, and put us in "Tburg" (inversion) and bedpan only. To our shock, an ultrasound showed that part of my water bag and little Alexander's legs were in my vagina (even though the bag hadn't broken). We were advised to start labor, but just couldnt do it. Our little snugglebug's heart was so strong and he was moving around, even as we were terrified. We decided to maintain bedrest and that, if he came, it was his time to be born. The doctors told us that we probably wouldnt make it through the night.

From our Bradley classes, we'd learned that pelvic tilts on hands and knees help move babies into better positions. Deciding we had nothing to lose (and still in inversion), we did a few minutes of tilts each hour. Thursday night, as I was preparing to use the bedpan, I sneezed and my water broke, sending a huge spray all over the floor and bed. Amazingly, Peter and I were calm. A sense of peace filled the room. Labor didn't start and we prayed for his sack to reform and his fluid to replenish, even though the doctors warned that there was an almost 0% chance. We were told to wait for labor to begin any time. But still... no labor.

Friday morning, an ultrasound showed little Alexander completely in the uterus and in an (albeit smaller) bag of fluid. We were concerned because we wanted more fluid, but we were just so grateful that there was a bag of fluid around him! We were still advised that the chances weren't great but were told that there was no harm in waiting and seeing a repeat u/s on Monday, to check fluid, bag, etc.

Saturday night, we went to bed in our inverted hospital bed (yes, my sweet husband stayed and slept with me, even though I can only imagine how uncomfy it must have been for him being so tall), and he rubbed my back until I fell asleep. About an hour or so later, at around 11:30pm, we woke up, me with a funny pelvic pain and him to blood- all over his underwear, my underwear, and the bed. Being the sweetie that he is, he responded to my request and got me as cleaned up the best he could before calling the nurses. I was terrified when I removed my underwear and found large blood clots and the nurses were quite concerned as well. The OB on call was sent in and, after a doppler failed to locate Alexander's heartbeat, the doctor used an ultrasound to do so. Little Alex was doing very well, good HB, and movement. But there was blood everywhere in the uterus, a sure fire sign of placental abruption. The doctor advised us to induce labor, since there was nothing they could do.

We had already decided that we would let Alexander's labor play out on his terms as much as we could. We had prayed for miracles, and had received them, granting us more days than doctors had told us were possible. Peter explained that we would follow Alexander's labor pattern and proceed with the natural labor we had prepared for (even though we'd hoped to use it in months). He politely told the nurses that we wouldn't call them until after Alexander was born, and they all were very understanding of our feelings.

We slowly changed the bed over the next hour from inversion to an almost seated position, and yet, still no baby (although plenty of blood and clots, accompanied by contractions). One of the nurses, who knew we were Catholic, offered to call a priest, and at 1am, a priest from a local parish arrived. He was so kind and prayed a beautiful prayer over all of us, especially Alexander, and then gave the Anointing of the Sick. I'm convinced that this all really did help with labor. After he and the nurse left, Peter and I felt such a sense of peace that we decided to take a nap together as a family. Around 3:30am, I woke up to a contraction, wrapped up in Peter's arms, and I woke him, telling him I felt it was time. In a mostly quiet labor, full of kisses and loving words from my sweet husband, I used the breathing tips we had learned and pushed out our beautiful son. Nathaniel Alexander was born at 3:45am, at 17w, weighing 3.9 oz. and measuring 7 inches in length. He came out kicking like the soccer player he was in the womb- and feet first! It took three pushes to get him completely into his father's arms, where he continued his feast of movement, much to our joy. We called the nurse, whom we'd already told we wanted to baptize him first and get his vitals second. We knew that we'd only have mere moments most likely and wanted to be able to have some very special moments. The nurse was very kind and immediately baptized little Alexander, who squirmed during the Sacrament, however by the time she was complete and he was in a blanket, she couldnt find a heartbeat and his little legs and arms had settled down, with him sucking his thumb.

It took almost another hour and a half to push out the placenta, which was harder than pushing Alexander out, but we still continued our plan of drug free labor. Peter held our beautiful little boy, who even after his spirit had left his body, still cuddled up to us, no matter what position he was in. After labor was complete, we went to bed as a family and slept, our baby nestled against my chest in his little blanket (so lovingly wrapped by his daddy), with Peter spooned up against me and holding our little one by reaching his (long) arms around me completely. I can only imagine the beautiful image. It was so beautiful to me.

We kept our son with us and our day was uneventful, save me getting out of bed long term, which included some vomiting from the change in position and dizziness, along with two pass outs as I walked to the bathroom and back. Apparently, I was quite pale, but thankfully blood tests confirmed that I hadn't lost as much blood as was feared, since I was bleeding all night, and physically, I was fine, just drained. By 11am, I was able to shower on my own and move around.
Peter and I spent a beautiful morning with our son, holding him, dancing with him, singing to him. We napped with him and kept him close. We also took a lot of pics (which I'll post to my blog once they are uploaded), and Peter's parents came to the hospital and spent an hour with their grandson. It was wonderful spending the time with him among those who love him so much. Peter handled making calls to my immediate family, as I couldnt find the words. In some ways, he doesn't realize how strong he is. Then, he also called the funeral home that handled the arrangements for Nicholas and Sophia, and arranged for Alexander to be picked up Monday for cremation and his addition to the marble box we had Nicholas and Sophia placed in, which during our hospital stay, sat next to the bed, as it does at home. We made the hard decision to discharge Sunday night and have our beautiful baby boy taken to the morgue. We knew that it was better for his body than staying with us in the warm room, and frankly, I couldnt handle the idea of having him away from me and still being in the hospital. It was either be discharged on Monday and keep him all night, then have the funeral home pick him up on Tuesday, or discharge Sunday and have the funeral home pick him up Monday.

The hardest thing was leaving the hospital again without our beautiful little one in tow. We were so heavily monitored and yet, even that, couldnt save our son. It's such a feeling of powerlessness. Our doctor did say that he would cerclage at 12w in the future, since now they can document my cervix opening early without warning. But, today, I can't think about baby #4. All I can think about is my beautiful baby boy, my cuddlebug, my Alexander.

Please keep Peter and I in your prayers as we face the day without our newest joy, Alexander, and continue to live each moment without our Nicholas and Sophia, events we never expected. We are so grateful for each moment we've had with each of our children, most recently Wed-Sun with our precious baby boy, Alexander. So many prayers were said and we know that they had such a huge impact, helping to both give us the more time we desperately hoped for and the much needed time to prepare.

Monday, November 17, 2008

T minus 0 to P17

So, I had my first P17 shot on Sunday morning. Honestly, it wasn't that bad. I'm sharing what we did, in case that makes it easier on others who may read this and need to take them at some point in pregnancy. The pharmacist gave two recommendations to Peter: first, prep the area with an ice cube before the alcohol swab, since that will numb the area, and afterwards, apply heat. Second, warm the liquid. Since it is a thicker liquid, a lot of the pain comes from injecting the viscous fluid. Peter looked up the best location (upper outside quad of buttocks, to avoid sciatic nerve) and we got ready. I bolstered with pillows so that I could go into a supported child's pose (no tummy on the bed) which (I think) allows the fat over the butt to distribute, making the muscle more readily accessible. (It's an intramuscular shot.) He warmed the vial prior to pulling the syringe and then warmed the syringe as well. Honestly, I dont the ice helped one bit. The water dripped down my leg and near my hoohaa, leaving me feeling cold and like I'd peed on myself. We'll be skipping that step this coming Sunday. The injection itself wasn't that bad (of course, I've spent the last year being poked with needles so maybe NOW it isnt so bad); the needle is long but fairly thin. The injection starts with some burning (due to the liquid being thick). As soon as Peter was finished, I got up and walked around. A few seconds into it, it felt like a charlie horse in my bum. That wasnt so pleasant, but I kept walking around and less than a minute later, it felt like I had really worked myself out at the gym and was very sore. I got into the shower and let the warm water just flow over me. The pharmacist recommended a heating pad, which would probably work well on bedrest, especially if you couldnt walk around afterwards. We had decided to do it in the morning, before church, in case I couldnt sit down. Since I was serving, I could stand the entire time without looking out of place. But that didnt become an issue at all. My butt feels fine.

So, long story short, it wasn't nearly as bad as I'd thought based on reading people's posts, but even had it been, it would be well worth it.

In other news, we went to the Point of Grace concert on Friday night. Peter was totally surprised and enjoyed it (even though they are now 3 singers instead of 4...) . The music was nice. It was in a decent sized church, but I felt like I was in a school gym. It was stadium styled, but it just felt so... I don't know... empty. But, hey, to each their own!

Sunday afternoon, we went to see Quantum of Solace, the new Bond movie. It was okay. I love Bond movies and I even love Daniel Craig (I think he does well as the grittier version of a newly minted Bond). That being said... I thought the theme sucked. I was so disappointed. You Know My Name (from Casino Royale) was so much better. And, not that this will come as a surprise to anyone who has read the reviews, but it is not a stand alone movie (like others in the series). You have to watch Casino Royale in order to pick up QoS, which starts about an hour after CR ends. All in all, if you add it to CR and make it one large movie, it plays well. Without CR, it's like watching a British Jason Bourne. Not that that's an insult- I love the Bourne movies. It's just different... That's not who 007 is. I'm overthinking this, I know, but I grew up on Bond movies and truly enjoy them. One final note and then I'll stop. I think this movie will lead into Daniel Craig's 007 becoming more suave and smooth, as though he is learning to be more like the Sean Connery version (which is good; Bond should be an evolution, not a once and done).

I have a doctor's appointment this afternoon, so I'd better eat (again) and get in a quick nap or I'll pass out at the office, LOL. I'm looking forward to seeing our little boy again!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My little girl...

Today, is 9 months since our beautiful Sophia came into our lives! It doesn't feel like 9 months; it either feels like yesterday or forever. I smile at the remembrance and cry at the loss. Our beautiful little girl... Our Gaea Sophia... Our earth wisdom and what wisdom she has been!

I remember thinking, She's Beautiful!!!, as soon as Peter put her in my arms. The world stopped and there was this beautiful, precious little angel in my arms. Her little body was larger than her brother's had been and her little fingers were all curled up. But, perhaps most beautiful, was her smile. She had this open mouthed smile, a little triangle. Like she was laughing. Which made us smile too.

Nine months, my sweet... Tonight, we'll have your special dinner and hunt down a chocolate cake fit for the princess that you are! We'll go see the new 007 movie with your paternal grandpa, who dreamed of taking you and your brother to see it, thrilled that you were going to be born in time for a new one! We'll even record the Giant's game so that we can watch you sprinkle lucky dust over your "favorite team". And they'll win of course, because it's your special day.

9 months... the gestation of a baby in the best case scenario, a lifetime when your baby dies... An eternity when you lose two...

But, for today, we celebrate what was and what might have been, and we have cake!

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Today is day 98 of my pregnancy with little Alexander. Day 98 is also the day that I went into labor with Nicholas. I can't believe this day is here already. I thought we had more time... How are we here already? If you could see fear, it would be a huge bubble all around me.

We've spent the day lounging around and doing absolutely nothing. I just can't bring myself to do anything- what if this is the end??? I don't want to wonder if that did something or this did something... We didn't even shower until 5pm, and then, it was only to go to Tom and Sarah's for dinner. She made a delicious zucchini lasagna, but it could have been cardboard and I would have eaten it. I just watched the time click off the clock on the oven... 7:30...7:31...7:32... Before I knew it, it was 7:44 and then 7:45... Nicholas was born...

My breath caught and I actually had to tell myself that I wasn't in labor. Alexander, by contrast, was moving all over the place, playing soccer with my bladder, and running from one side to the other. He was fine. I went to the bathroom and just cried.

I've carried Alexander hours longer than his big brother at this point. The feeling of happiness and sadness has no name. There isn't a way to describe it. So grateful and joyous for making it another day, so empty because your younger baby has passed his big brother...

It also brought back memories. Right now, I'd be in the hospital still, clinging for the hope that Sophia was going to make it. Embracing my son's body, still warm from his life on this earth. Mourning the special and sacred spirit that entered our lives and touched them with such peace and beauty...

Alex is alive and well, and day 98 is almost over. We've made it this far.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Surprises for Peter

My hubby is such a special guy. In addition to all the reasons that I love him unconditionally, he is just super special. I realize this all the more when I read the posts in some of my message boards. For example, a recent post included the story of a woman who is on pelvic rest (i.e. no sex, etc.). Her husband is quite frustrated that she can't engage in the marital activities he enjoys and has been giving her hell about it. Meanwhile, in our household, I've put myself on pelvic rest. After we crossed the 6 week threshhold, I decided then that it was just too much of a mental strain. The what ifs of sex and possibly causing my cervix to open or anything else were too much. I talked to Peter, told him how I was feeling, how scared the entire idea of sex was to me, and you know what he said? "That's fine. Don't worry." And, instead of ever saying anything to the contrary, he holds, cuddles, and kisses, and regardless of how worked up he gets, never says anything to the effect of I can't wait to get it on again or why are we stopping??? I'm sure there are plenty of guys like him out there and I feel lucky to have him. In addition, he makes dinner when I work late, cleans the bathrooms because I hate it, and never moans about getting up super early to take the trash out because we lounged around and forgot the night before. He does laundry, irons if needed, and never complains that I toss my dirty laundry on the floor next to the hamper (okay, he complains a bit, but in jest, and always picks up the dirty clothes and puts them in the correct bin). All in all, he's wonderful, and this doesn't even begin with all of the other reasons he's my soulmate and I love him.

It's hard to give him gifts or surprises because he doesn't want a lot. He rarely says "Ooh, I want that" or "I want to go do that". He's always focused on me and what I might want to do or have. He gives and gives, and it's hard sometimes to figure out what to give him back.

His birthday was in August (my little Leo!) and I figured out the perfect gift, even though it would take a while to get back (it actually just arrived today). In our bookcase of kids books sat a book, it's cover gone from a lot of love, protected only by a cardboard "cover". It's a book called Flip by Wesley Dennis. This edition is from 1969. Peter and his little brother, Robert, grew up with this book as a favorite read- and it showed. The pages were all torn and tapes, yellowed with age. The spine was only a fragment since the cover had vanished years before. They had taken good care of the book (no crayon marks or things like that) but simply because of how read it was, it was in serious disrepair. I find a bindery in Oregan that specialized in repairing old children's books when there wasn't a lot left of the spine. I sent it off in August and it just arrived today! It's about 3 months after his birthday, but the book is beautiful. They put a black library binding on it, embossed with the title, author, and a little horse in gold. They couldnt really do much with the pages, since it's just a bindery, but they were able to repair the spine enough to rebind it. It's really awesome. I can't wait to see the look on his face when he sees it! He and Robert loved this book so much. I think it will bring fond memories for him and for years to come in our family.

His second surprise is a bit different and he'll be totally caught off guard. Peter enjoys a group called "Point of Grace". I think they are okay. It's a 4 part, women's harmony group that sings contemporary Christian music. This is more up his alley than mine (I'm much more of a celtic music sort of girl). He has several of their CDs and plays them from time to time. He has mentioned several songs that he really enjoys. Well... I was listening to the radio a few weeks ago, and they are coming in concert. Normally, I wouldnt even think of buying tickets. Peter has very sensitive hearing and the idea of a concert isn't usually appealing to him. He likes small venues, where there isnt a huge sound system, or sitting as far from stage and speakers as possible. For example, we went to the Philadelphia Symphony a few years ago and had to go to the very last row. It was still loud, but he could deal with it. (I'd be down front and center, but then again I'll probably be deaf by the time I'm 65 because of the loud music I've grown up with!) Anyway, before I ramble on... PoG is appearing at a church near Allentown. I figured this couldnt be that much louder than our church, so I bought tickets! They were quite inexpensive, and even better, he has no idea what we are doing! He just knows I have a "surprise" for him. I think I might blindfold him for the drive, LOL.

I really cant wait to see the look on his face when he sees the book, and I hope he enjoys the concert!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

It's been a bit...

On Sunday, I had day one of the state library conference. It lasted through Wednesday, and since I barely had time to check my email, I decided I'd wait to blog until I returned. So, I am back, and all checked in with the blogs I love to watch.

Peter is terribly sick. He got his flu shot on Friday and by Monday was coming down with a cold. He hasnt taken great care of himself (although he has drank the herbal tea I've been making him). He's spent the last few nights coughing and sneezing with congestion and a stuffy nose (which means I haven't slept either...) He had a fever on Tuesday that broke around 11pm, but then last night, he had a higher fever. It broke around 2am, and he's doing better. Today, he actually took my advice and stayed home. He was so busy at work Monday-Wednesday that he wouldnt. But today... Finally! He called me at work a few times to check in (I didnt want to call and wake him up), and he sounded a little better each time. I went home midday (the joys of working close to home!) and checked on him. He's doing much better, and eating again! Since I have a special surprise for him tomorrow (can't tell you- he checks my blog every now and again!), I'm hoping he feels a lot better!

Little Alexander is one tired, hungry baby! I have to eat every 2 hours or so, or I start to feel famished... Like I will fall over if I don't eat NOW. And I'm so tired that I usually fall asleep on the couch when I get home from work, not to mention sometimes have to nap at the library! So far, just like his daddy! ;-) He's doing so well... Me, not so much (emotionally), but he is the epitome of perfection (even his doctor says so!).

Saturday is the day in pregnancy that I went into labor with Nicholas. I thought I had more time, honestly, then earlier in the week decided to look at their calendar and- sure enough- the sticker that said "It's a boy"... It was on the last day of that week... And now, here I am, nearing Saturday: the last day of this pregnancy week on the calendar. I'm a nervous wreck. I try to tell myself that Alex is so healthy and my cervix is fine, but, those were the same things I had going into February 1st... Nick and Sophie were perfectly healthy and my cervix (2 weeks before) looked normal. As normal as my cervix looked last Wednesday... I had a full blown panic attack in the kitchen. If Peter hadn't been standing next to me, I would have ended up on the floor. I just can't believe I'm already at this point again...

The flip side is that I know what my son looks like. I know that he has all his fingers and toes, that his little eyes (though moving) are closed. That his hands can wrap around our fingers and that his little body, though small, is perfect in everyway. Nicholas brought us that glimpse of an early baby, a baby alive when born, with a desperate desire to live... I know that, in 2 weeks, like his sister, Sophia, Alexander will almost double in weight from where he is today... That his skin will start to lighten as the pigment comes in, that hair will start to be visible... These are the glimpses she brought us. And these are beautiful gifts.

But I am still scared.

Last night, our church did their annual Mass for all those (from the parish) who have died in the last 12 months. Nicholas and Sophia were remembered. Their names were read, a bell was rang for each, and then we lit a candle for each. An alter server gave us a white rose, one for Nicholas and one for Sophia. It was so hard... You'd think that, 9 months later, something like this would be easier, but it isn't. But we were surrounded by friends who love us, and that was special. A friend of ours was a soloist on one of the musical pieces and he told me later, when I said how beautiful he sounded, that he was thinking of Nicholas and Sophia when he sang. The chorus said: "God will wipe the tears from our eyes and we shall see him face to face. On that day, we shall rejoice when we see God in his holy place." It was written in memory of a stillborn baby, and I often wonder if our choir director chose it because it was written for a baby. Peter's parents made the Mass as well, and it was nice to be together, even if it was for a short time.

2 more days until Saturday... I feel the fear in my chest already...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It's a BOY!!!

I had the shock of my day today in the doctor's office. Peter and I have been pretty sure the baby was a girl. I dont know why, really, just thought the baby was a she. We knew it was probably too early (14w3d) for anatomy to be clear, so we thought nothing of today's appointment for gender looking. I should have known things would be thrown for a loop today by how easy everything was...

First, no traffic on 76. There is ALWAYS traffic on the Schuylkill. Always. None. We left at 12:45 and got to the hospital at 1:22. This is our best time, beating the traditional 40m it has taken us on the RARE day when no one else is on the road. Our appointment was at 1:45pm, so I went to the bathroom before hand, since we usually wait at least an hour to two hours to see our doc. (It's a long story, but because we are high risk, we need the ultrasound machine, which means additional waiting; add to that the fact that the OBs in Pennsylvania have been on the move and our doctor is now crammed with patients PLUS it seems like everyday we have an appointment someone goes into labor... at least an hour wait...) We get there and the waiting room is empty, save one other patient. Peter laughs that I shouldnt have peed, since I'll probably still have to pee in a cup.

No sooner have I sat down, than the nurse calls us back! And sure enough, I had to pee in the cup. But, oh ye of little faith: I'm pregnant. I can pee on demand! I do my business, return to the u/s room, and Dr. Bailey walks in! It isn't even 1:45 yet! We chat and then move into the ultrasound. As we are discussing how good the heartbeat is(167bpm) and how the baby is very healthy and a good size, etc., he says "Would you like to know the sex of the baby?" We both are stunned and say yes, as our little soccer player continues to toss and turn, legs up in the air. Dr. B. says, with a laugh, "Well, it is VERY apparent," and freezes the image, "that you are having a boy." And then he points out the penis and scrotum! IT WAS AMAZING!!! The baby is tiny still, yet he has a very clear and (when you look at the context of his size) large little penis! And, like his dad and brother, Nicholas, big feet with long toes!!!

We were both shocked a bit. Peter and I both thought girl, but it looks like our little Zoë is actually our little Alexander!!! He was very active and, because he didn't mind having his legs over his head (and open), got to see him very clearly a few times. Dr. B. even took a picture, LOL. In addition, we got some great facial shots, and another shot of the baby waving. Peter is supposed to scan these, along with the others from 2w ago, today, but we shall see. I gave him a hard time, as did his parents. Hopefully, that is enough! :-)

My cervix measured better than the last time, at 3.74, and is still in a closed T shape. AMEN! I got the prescription for P17 and have to call it in today. I start them at 16w. I am nervous, but everything is so well that I am trying to be confident, even when I am afraid. Dr. Bailey was very happy with what we saw today.

I have yoga tonight, which will be nice. Last week was SO relaxing. Little Alexander and I will get to spend some more Mommy-and-Me time!

Wow... We're having a boy... We're having our second son...
I'm still nervous, but so happy that our little one is doing well.

I believe I shall never see...something as lovely as a tree...

Our house is surrounded by many beautiful trees: oaks, maples, firs... For a tree lover (and tree hugger) like myself, it is a wonderland (although Peter is in a little less wonder when all the leaves start falling and piling up...) The nursery is a room that shoots off of the master bedroom. It was probably initially built to be a huge closet or, as the previous folks had desired but not started, a master bath. (Which, incidentally, Peter would like to see it once our nursery needing days are done... in 20 years or so... LOL) From our bedroom, you go through the door to a small room that has been designated as Peter's closet, which enters the nursery (from main door to nursery door is possibly 2 feet; the closet section is to the right and perhaps extends 3-4 feet across). The nursery is L shaped, with the larger portion where the furniture will go and the thin, jutting out section where my rocking chair sits, with a beautiful window view over our backyard. And this particular tree...

We moved last September 15th and conceived October 27th. We had seen our reproductive endocrinologist on the 14th of September for a consult, and from the beginning (even before seeing her), when we saw this room, we both said "nursery". It was a given. It's perfect. As soon as we'd conceived, this became a room where I spent a lot of time. In darkness, in solitude, with nothing but my rocking chair... I spent many moments, rocking, holding my stomach, and looking out the window, looking at this tree, talking to Nicholas and Sophia.

I told them about the tree... How her leaves shimmered as they faded from green into red and yellow and orange, finally falling to the ground (and, since this was before Peter realized he'd need to rake those bad boys up and bag them, I told them about the carpet of autumn that laced through our backyard like a delicate crochet). As fall passed into winter, I told them of the bare branches, rained and iced, waiting for a snow that didn't fall. And then, I was no longer in my chair, and no longer watched our tree.

After Nicholas was born Feb. 1st and I was sent home on the 4th, I was on bedrest. Our good friends, Tom and Sarah, met us at the house from the hospital (this after Sarah had driven down clothes and, being the best friend she is, sat with me while Peter showered and made conversation that I dont remember but that was calming). Sarah sat and cried with me, and just held me while I lost it for a moment, then tried to talk things out to get us both calm, while Peter and Tom took our bed apart and moved it into the living room, since stairs were out of the question. We lived in our living room for those 2 weeks. The shades were closed, partly because I couldnt bear the thought that life was going on in the world outside when my son was dead and my daughter's life hung in the balance, and party because I slept all the time and the shades kept whatever light there was out. I looked out once, when Peter told me it snowed, but that was it...

After Sophia was born, I was holed up in the house for 2 months. Peter would convince me to go out for walks in the neighborhood every morning before he'd go to work, small walks because my leg muscles were in terrible shape from being flat for 2 weeks and not walking at all, not even to the bathroom. I'm sure that my eyes saw trees but my mind didn't process what was happening. I was a shell.

When I finally emerged to go to work, it was April and buds had started on the trees, but I took no notice. When I went into the nursery, I just clung to their blanket and wept. I didnt look out the window at our tree, didn't see it move from winter into spring, from spring into summer. I didn't watch the new baby buds transform into a thick covering of different shades of green. It was as though a shade had been pulled down, even as light streamed in from the life emerging outside. The room was dark and I made no effort to change that.

Finally, in the summer, we decided to pick out paint and begin the nursery's transformation. When we moved in, the room was not finished; the walls were marked with beams but there was no drywall. We chose a beautiful green paint and had the walls done. But work stopped, since baseboards to match the rest of the house had to be ordered. But Peter returned my rocking chair to it's corner by the window. And it sat empty throughout June and July.

By the end of July, we hoped that, around Peter's birthday, we would be blessed with a new addition (or two). I finally sat down in my chair in early August and finally saw our tree, bursting with green leaves... I didn't sit long, and, because of the busy times that followed, haven't really sat down until recently... In darkness, in solitude, with nothing but my rocking chair... I spent many moments, rocking, holding my stomach, and looking out the window, looking at our tree, talking to Zoë.

I tell Zoë about the tree... How her leaves shimmer as they fade from green into red and yellow and orange, as they fall to the ground below. And, in these moments, I realize that I missed seasons of our tree... I missed spring, the time of new birth, and summer, the time of life... And this makes me think of all that I have lost, even as I begin a new cycle and a new life...

And so, I am left with this tree... This beautiful tree that I shared with my son and my daughter, that I share now with my new baby, growing within. My little mustard seed that is growing into her own kind of tree.

I believe that I shall never see...something as lovely as a tree...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

14w ultrasound

It's odd how certain things can set a person off... I'm trying to get through the day... I got up and got ready, voted, got to work... I didn't pack a lunch but I know where I'm going to eat, so that's done. I've got a to do list... Yet, the only real thing on my mind is tomorrow: the 14w ultrasound.

With Nicholas and Sophia, I was seeing our OB every 3 to 3.5 weeks. It was a normal pregnancy, everything was great, there was no need to see the doctor more frequently. Our 14w ultrasound came and went. They were playing together! It was so beautiful to see. I remember Peter and I in utter amazement. He had missed the 10w ultrasound because of work and had only seen the photographs, but this one... It was thrilling to watch him watch them. We were due for our next one at almost 18w... When everything changed. We never saw Nicholas and Sophia play together again... The next ultrasound we had was in a bright, ER, and it was just our baby girl, looking so lonely without her brother, swimming around in an area that had recently been more snug, now so big. We were ultrasounded every day and each day we saw her, I remember a feeling of utter joy: our baby girl is doing well!!! and utter loss and sorrow: our son has died, her brother has died... she is alone...

And now, tomorrow, is our 14w ultrasound for Zoë. Will she still be alright? Will this be the last time we see her playing? Oh God, I can't even bear the thought of losing her... It's too much... I know I will see her 12 days later, but still... the fear that pulsates: is this the end, will we lose her, is everything we are doing enough... it plagues me today. And I am so afraid of what tomorrow will bring. Normally, I am so thrilled for the ultrasound days because I can see her again and they are comforting in the midst of all my fear. I think the next few are going to be rough as we get closer to 20w... Somehow, I have it that if I can just hit 20w, just be more pregnant that I was before... Then Zoë will be okay! I know there are no guarantees, but I just keep praying. X more weeks, Lord. Please, just let us hit 36 weeks... Please...

I'm trying to relax. Until last night, I was still feeling the yoga benefits and felt everything was fine. My weeks are pretty busy, which is a good thing, because they help the days go by quicker. I keep telling myself one week at a time, and before I know it it will be Thanksgiving week and I'll be off! Since we can't go to Tennessee right now, I will be relaxing at home, working on the nursery, working on the Christening gown. Just being... Journaling... Talking to Zoë, loving her, hold her... The hard part is getting to 17w1d, when Nicholas was born. 17w1d for Zoë is the 24th. Sophia was born 19w2d, which means Dec. 9th. I'm trying to think of Christmas as a happy time. We'll be 21w4d. While it's not the 24 weeks that we need for her to have a chance, it's closer... 24 weeks is only the beginning, though... Jan. 11th is still too early...

Part of me is afraid of a February birth, too... How little she would still be... Nicholas's 1st birthday is 27w... Sophia's is 29w1d... I just want this little one to have a long, healthy life, to (as the Irish say) see her grandchildren's grandchildren... That is my prayer...

We are getting through this, one day at a time... That is all that we can do. I have to believe Zoë is alright. If I don't then I have nothing to hope in at this point. I know that Nicholas and Sophia are watching over her, adding their prayers to mine as they intercede for her, for all of us, in heaven.

Tomorrow morning, we will wake up with a new president elect... And Peter and I will have our 14w ultrasound. In spite of how divided our country is, our little Zoë overshadows everything else for us.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Another week over, another just begun...

We are officially 14w1d. Officially second trimester. When the risk of loss goes down "significantly"... Yet, I still have that fear... I lost Nicholas and Sophia in the second trimester due to premature labor... Nothing can tell me that won't happen. But, on the same hand, my fear is starting to get quieter... Still there, but I truly feel like we are doing so much, all that we can do. I eat well, I now do yoga for stress management, I see our doc every 2w, I'm starting the P17 shots in 2w and they have a history of helping stop preterm labor in some women, my cervix is being monitored every 2w... Medically, we are doing all that we can do. That has to mean something, right?

I still feel somewhat relaxed from yoga on Wednesday night... I am looking forward to this week... We see Dr. Bailey at on Wednesday, then I'll probably nap the afternoon away before going to class... Thursday is our Bradley class... Busy baby week, but good things. :-) Friday, we are even having some dear friends from Church for dinner, and Saturday night we are babysitting the 10yo and 5yo of great friends, so that they can go out for a date. The kids are coming Saturday afternoon and hanging out through Sunday morning... Of course, then I leave for the PaLA conference... So it will be a busy work week! :-) But that is okay... Busy weeks mean we pass another week and I feel a bit more confident...

So yesterday, some landscapers came to do some yard stuff. We were growing some trees (trees that had started growing on their own and we'd decided to keep and try to transplant for the 3 we've lost this year due to weather, maybe there were 6 or so baby trees growing). Well, we get home last night from the store, and I notice there is a large pile of leaves in the area where the trees were. So I say to Peter, you did tell them to leave our trees alone, right? He says yes, but starts to walk back there, telling me that they had piled the leaves because it was getting too moist yesterday to finish up. I'm walking with him, it's dusk and getting dark, and I see a tree, on it's side, in the leaf pile. "Is that tree cut?" I ask. He says he's not sure. Well, I get there first and the first thing I notice is that an entire section of trees were cut down, two of the growing trees, gone. He picks up some leaves, and sure enough, the stem is cut. I start bawling. Like a little kid whose puppy has died. If anyone was outside, they would have heard me wailing. So he's trying to clear off leaves and he's pulling up tree after tree, cut. Finally he finds one. Still rooted. He's trying to calm me down, but I am in hysterics by this point, on the verge of puking, and crying about how our babies have been killed. (I know, it sounds nuts). So then, I'm asking about our "twin tree" (a single tree that early had sprouted two trunks; this tree had started growing in March, after Nicholas and Sophia had died, and I thought of it as "their" tree). He starts digging and finds it, cut, dead, murdered... An entire new wave of wailing begins. He has to bring me inside, crying like a baby, before I started puking, I'm crying so hard. He goes out and starts bagging up leaves to try and find any trees underneath, but it gets so cold and dark (not to mention, he filled up our two spare trashcans and our big one is almost full and pickup isnt until Friday morning), he has to come in. I was a basketcase. Just so upset. I dont know what he'll do, I'm sure call and ask WTF they were thinking cutting our trees. He found two new sprouts, but still, sprouting in winter- their chances are poor because the weather is going to drop so soon. I think we may transplant them now, in the hopes they can root in their new home before the next freeze. Our original plan was to let the others root so that we could transplant them in spring, with a good root system. But we shall see. Oh, the tears. It was such a long night.