Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Results from the Random Act of Kindness Day

I was very happy with how many people did something nice in Benjamin's memory on his birthday. Here's all the good things that happened in the world because he existed:

- A friend let a big truck on the highway in front of her when no one else would. The truck driver smiled and waved.
- Brownies and cheesecake were made for a bake sale, even tho the baker didn't really have the time to make them.
- A neighbour's windows were washed.
- Care packages of muffins and cookies were taken to 3 co-workers who are having difficult times making ends meet.
- A 5 year old girl took part in a Remembrance Day Ceremony (she viewed this as her act of kindness and remembering Benjamin).
- An 8 year old girl helped some classmates with schoolwork problems.
- The same 8 year old girl befriended another skater at her skating lesson.
- Workmates were driven to Remembrance Day Ceremonies.
- A soldier's hand was shaken and he was thanked for his efforts in peacekeeping.
- Neighbour's were surprised with coffee, tea and timbits.
- A couple whose 4 week old baby is in the hospital were surprised with a gift certificate to Boston Pizza.
- A mother sent notes in her kid's lunch boxes telling them how thankful she is for them.
- A mother got her toddlers timbits for a snack (which they never get!).
- A bag of food was given to a homeless man.
- A teacher took her co-worker's duties so she could enjoy her lunch
- Co-workers were surprised with coffee
- Money was donated to Empty Arms for books for the library.
- Food was brought to a friend who had lost her baby recently.
- A donation was made to Heifer International.
- Fabric was dropped off to a friend who is unable to travel.
- A mother had a 'random act of craziness' with her 3 year old son by jumping on the bed to dance and sing; just enjoyed the little moment in life with her child.
- Baby cereal and baby food was donated to the food bank by the same mom and 3 year old boy (he picked fruits he was sure the babies would like).
- The same 3 year old boy found a some Christmas ornaments in the parking lot and brought them in to the customer service desk so the person who lost them could come back and get them.
- Clothes were donated.
- Carnations were handed out to random people at the grocery store.
- Money was donated to City Harvest (an organization that provides food to the needy in NYC).
- A mom is buying one extra thing at the supermarket every time she goes and dropping it in the donation bin.
- A co-worker was brought lunch when he was stuck in a meeting all day.
- A mom made her family her priority that day as she feels she takes them for granted all too often. She emailed or talked to 3 family members that she usually tends to avoid.
- A dad called his grandparents and talked to them for quite a while and had his 2 year old daughter talk to them too. It made their day.


So as you can see, the random acts of kindness ranged from simple things that we all should be doing already (cherishing the day to day with our families) to things that are not done often (donations to charities). And each and every one of these acts made me smile when I heard about them. So thank you to everyone that took the time that day to think of my sweet baby boy.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lexi's birth story

I haven't posted her birth story yet. I wrote most of it out right after she was born (during that long week I was still in the hospital). Here is the first installment!

Alexandra Simone is here!!

I am overjoyed to announce the SAFE arrival of our beautiful baby girl Alexandra Simone. She was born on Friday, September 25th at 8:26pm. She was a whopping 6 pounds, 13 ounces and 50.5cm long. We heard her beautiful cry moments after her caesarean section birth. It was the best sound we have ever heard.

It has been a VERY long week; a fitting end to a VERY long 38 weeks. Here’s how the week went…

Thursday, September 24th - This was the first day that I was on the induction list. We were not all that hopeful that I would get a call telling me to come in. I dropped Jackson off at daycare like usual and went home to tidy up the house, planning to watch a Baby Story marathon for the rest of that morning. Then I had to pick up Jackson at 1pm. But all that was to change. At 10:45am I got a call from the hospital. I had made it to #1 on the induction list!! I was to come in as soon as safely possible! I ran around the house for the next 20 minutes grabbing stuff for my hospital bag, grabbing other things I thought I might want for the potentially long stretch of hospital induction ahead of me. Then I had to run next door to make sure Jackson could stay at daycare for the rest of the day. Then off to work to pick up Brian and head in to the hospital!

I got there and they immediately put me into L&D Room #2 (never even a question as to whether I would go into room #1 or not!). They hooked me up to the fetal monitors and found Thumper’s heart beat right away; nice and strong. After a little while a resident doctor came in and examined me. On Tuesday at my doctor appointment I had been a fingertip dilated so I was hoping to have made it to at least 1-2cm (I’d been crampy all week). This doctor examined me and announced that I was closed up tight. Ummm… So apparently not only did my body not know I was full term but it was also actively denying it! So with that the resident inserted the Cervidil and hooked me back up to the fetal monitors. I had to remain lying down for 30minutes with the monitors on so they could ensure that the Cervidil didn’t negatively affect the baby.

Once I was able to move they brought me over to my room on Antepartum. I had been worried that they would place me in Room #6 and that would be just too difficult to be so close to Room #7 (the room where moms are placed who are having stillbirths). Those two rooms share a bathroom and I would have such a hard time fighting the urge to go next door to offer any comfort I could to any mom in that room. Luckily I was placed in Room #5, close but not too close. I had a roommate who was in for preterm labour at 29 weeks. She was a very nice woman with an adorable 3 year old son. We had a lot of nice friendly chats and talked about fearing for our baby’s lives. It was nice to have someone to talk to during that time who sort of knew the emotions I was going through.

All through Thursday I was still having the cramps that I normally had, but nothing implying labour was imminent. I went to sleep that night (with the help of a sleeping pill) assuming labour was not going to happen any time soon. I started believing that I would be sent home either the next afternoon or on Saturday to wait and come back in next week some time.


Friday, September 25th – I woke up that morning and still wasn’t feeling labour starting up. In the evening I was hooked up to the monitors by one of my favourite nurses; Mary. She was working Antepartum when I had Benjamin and was one of the two nurses that I remember the most. She had sat with me during that time and talked to me and hugged me and made things a little easier. When I saw her this day I was so happy to see someone that was such an important part of that time. She remembered me and sat with me for a little while chatting again. She hooked up the monitor early in the morning and said “if baby is ready to be born I’ll find the heart beat right here” and put the monitor on the lower left side of my belly. Sure enough, there was the heart beat, nice and strong. I decided that I was going to be a little more proactive this day and went for a nice long walk outside (well, as long a walk as I could waddle). After my first walk around 11am I mentioned to the nurse that I wanted to be hooked up to the monitors for a bit. I hadn’t felt the baby moving too much and was getting a little worried about it. A nurse came into the room and put the monitor on my belly, where the baby’s heart beat was always found right away. The monitor was silent. I immediately started crying and thinking the worst. All I could think was “I cannot go through this again; I cannot lose another child”. After a little while and a lot of searching we were able to find the heartbeat on the lower right side of my belly. The baby had shifted to the other side and must have been with her back closer to my back for the heart beat to be so faint. But there was a heart beat, and that’s all that mattered.

At 1:30 I went to the bathroom and realized that the Cervidil was not in place anymore. I was due to get my next dose at 2:30 anyways so the nurses called my doctor to come and check me and insert another Cervidil. In the meantime they hooked me up to the monitors again because I had mentioned that on my last walk I had been feeling a lot of regular cramping so I wanted to be hooked up just to see if anything was happening. I was also feeling a little anxious about Thumper’s movements again. They hooked me up to the monitors and I was having contractions. They were quite mild but were actually very regular, about 3-4 minutes apart. When my doctor came to the room to check me we found out that I was about 1-2cm dilated now. That, along with the regular contractions, made my doctor decide not to insert any more Cervidil but instead to move me to Labour and Delivery and start Pitocin.

I was put in L&D Room #3. That was the same room that I had Jackson in so I felt it was a good sign. When we all got into the room my doctor informed me that she was also going to break my water. She had spoken to my high risk OB and he had told her to rupture my membranes. When she went to check me and break my water she decided that the baby’s head was too high still and she was not comfortable breaking the water. She decided instead to call the OB and have him come check me and he could break my water if he was comfortable doing it. In the end my OB wasn’t on call anymore so we had another OB come. He came in and checked me. Right away he said that he was not comfortable breaking my water either. He felt that the baby’s head was too high and he thought she had a hand up by her head. He brought in the ultrasound machine to see what we were dealing with. We saw one of the last things any of us were expecting. Thumper had turned breech. It happened at some point between the morning when Mary hooked me up to the monitors and that moment. It was a sobering coincidence: when I was induced with Benjamin he was head down but when he was born he had flipped and was head up. Same thing was happening again. When they first induced me Thumper was head down but now that it was time for the birth she had flipped and was head up. To make it even more surreal she was footling breech; the same rare type of breech that Benjamin had been.

Right away the OB and my doctor started telling us that I would need to have a caesarean section. A breech delivery was just too risky. Because it was already after normal hospital hours we would not have access to a high detail ultrasound machine that would tell us the exact positioning of the baby and if the baby would safely be able to fit through the birth canal. I was devastated. I did NOT want a c-section. It was one thing I had been trying to avoid the entire pregnancy. I had researched the likelihood of every induction method ending in a c-section. I had even researched vaginal birth of breech babies. I knew it could be done! But in the end Brian and I decided that there were just too many ‘what ifs’ involved in going through with ‘trying’ to vaginally birth Thumper. I could not stop thinking about the fact that I had vaginally birthed Benjamin and he was basically full term and breech. I knew my body could do it, so maybe we should try to have the birth that I wanted (vaginal). While we were in the L&D room discussing our options and trying to come to terms with having a c-section Mary came in to talk to me. She put it in a very blunt way that totally rang true to Brian and I. She said “With Benjamin there was nothing to salvage, with this baby there is everything in the world to salvage. Look at it as a chance to make this an entirely new experience just for this baby.” Once she said that the decision to have the c-section was much easier. I knew that it was much more risky to birth Thumper this way than it was for Benjamin since we didn’t have to worry about his health. I could not take the chances with Thumper’s health just to get ‘my birth experience’. The most important thing was definitely her health and safety. So we told the nurses to let the doctors know we wanted to do the c-section, and we wanted it done as soon as possible.

Around 8pm the nurses brought me into the operating room. I was a little nervous since I didn’t know what to expect. I had never had any major surgery (just my wisdom teeth out when I was a teenager). I knew I was going to have to have a spinal (like an epidural) and the idea of that made me uncomfortable. The main reason I never wanted an epidural during labour was because I don’t want the recovery from one, I don’t want the loss of feeling and movement and control. So I got up on the operating room table and had to hunch over so that the anaesthesiologist could locate the right spot and inject the meds into my spinal column. Talk about uncomfortable! Here I am, hunching over in a ball around a 38 week baby while having contractions. Just to make sure it was a horrible experience the anaesthesiologist could not find the proper spot and ended up making 6 or 7 attempts before finally getting it. I have no idea how long it took. All I know was he had to inject some freezing medicine in first and then follow through with a bigger needle to make sure he got the right spot. Every single poke hurt. By the end of it I was sobbing. As soon as he stopped I sat back up and almost instantly my left leg started getting very warm. They helped me lay down on the table and got to work setting up the operating room. The spinal had taken full effect and everyone was in position so they brought Brian in.

I should mention here that there were two L&D nurses in the operating room with us. One was Cindy, who was a younger woman and very very nice. She explained things to me and was very calming and compassionate. She was the one standing holding my shoulders when the spinal was being put in. The other nurse was Jen. As soon as I saw her I knew that I recognized her. She was the ‘Young pretty nurse’ from my stay on Antepartum when I had Benjamin. She was the nurse that took Benjamin from me the last time and did so with such compassion and love that it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. She was the last person I saw holding my sweet baby boy. The fact that she was there for the birth of my next baby, my daughter, meant the world to me. It was just so right.

During the delivery Jen stayed up around my head a lot and talked me through some of what was going on. When they were pulling the baby’s head out it took them a long time and Brian and I started getting a little concerned. I kept asking him what they were doing and why it was taking so long. I finally asked him if the doctors looked worried. At that point Jen told us that it was all normal and nothing was wrong. That was a relief to hear.

When the baby was pulled out she didn’t give the big full-bodied cry like I so desperately wanted to hear and I think both Brian and I held our breath until we heard any sort of a cry from her. She let out a little squawk, but there was no big cry. That was okay though because that cry said everything we needed to hear anyways. The OB held her up for us to get a quick peek and then took her over to the exam table so that the paediatrician and the student doctor could give her a full exam to make sure everything was okay with her. She scored a 9 and a 10 on her apgars and all of her reflexes were working how they should be. It felt like they were taking forever to examine her and I started worrying that there must be something wrong with her and they just weren’t telling us yet. I asked Brian a million times why they were taking so long and what was wrong. I know my voice started getting a little panicky and Jen quickly came over to reassure me that everything was okay; they were just thoroughly checking her over. Then she went over to the paediatrician and told him “we have a very anxious mom here” and he promptly finished the exam, wrapped her up and brought her over to us.

I was so happy when they brought her over and we got to see her opening her eyes, looking around, making little grunting noises. Just being so alive. I hated that I was strapped down to the table and couldn’t hold her and have skin to skin contact with her right away. I hated that I couldn’t nurse her immediately. But she was here and we could touch her and feel her warm skin and her little squirms. She was perfect.

While the doctors were finishing the c-section Brian and the baby were taken to the recovery room where they would wait for me. I was brought in shortly after and was cleaned up and my vitals were taken and all that usual stuff. During this time I got to really look at the baby and finally got to nurse her. She latched on right away and instinctively knew what to do. It was one of the moments that I had been waiting for, and it was perfect. Around this time Jen and Cindy noticed that the baby was feeling a little cold so they decided that she should have a little time in the warmer to try to help her regulate her body temperature a little bit. While she was in there Brian stood beside her just marvelling at her. It was a very touching sight. I know how anxious he was to get her here alive and healthy and you could just see the love for her on his face. During this time Brian and I decided to finalize the name. We decided on Alexandra Simone. We chose Alexandra because we just really liked the name and we like the name Ally. We chose Simone after Brian’s dad, Simon. Now Jackson is named after my dad, Alexandra is named after Brian’s dad, and Benjamin is named after both sides of our family.

We were transferred to the Mother and Babe Unit once Alexandra’s body temperature regulated and I was all ready to be moved. We were brought to a double room that didn’t have anyone else in it so Brian was able to stay that first night. Good thing too since half of me was still pretty much useless! I was able to shimmy myself off the OR bed and onto my Mother/Babe bed, so I was feeling okay about the whole loss of control issue with the spinal. That first night I did not get any sleep. Brian, on the other hand, slept like a champ, snoring away! Alexandra slept through most of the night too, making sweet little grunts and sighs the entire time.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Random Acts of Kindness

Yesterday was a good day for our family. I thought it would be a hard day, but it was surprisingly a happy day. We didn't do anything overly special, but we did make sure to spend the entire day just being a family and enjoying our time together. Brian and I were able to talk quite a bit about Benjamin and how he changed us and our family. It was a good day.

We ended up buying a cake from the grocery store. And let me tell you, it was the yummiest cake I have ever bought. Seriously good. We still have tons left in the fridge and I am using some serious restraint not to eat it for breakfast. Jackson blew out the candle and even said 'happy birthday ben'. Very sweet.

For our Random Acts of Kindness here's what we did:
- We donated two HUGE garbage bags of clothes, bedding, etc to the clothing exchange here in town. These were clothes that we don't wear anymore, but all of them were in great condition and most of them were cooler weather clothes, so I'm sure they'll get snatched up right away.
- I finished three Benjamin boxes and got them to the hospital in time for his birthday. So now the next mom that loses a baby at our hospital will have one of the comfort boxes.
- I delivered thank you cards with letters to the two nurses at the hospital that helped me in ways they will never fully comprehend. They weren't on shift when I was there so they will either get them yesterday or today.
- We donated a package of diapers, a can of formula, 3 cans of tuna, 3 cans of veggies, and 3 containers of soup to our local food bank.

That's everything that we did. We also decided last night that every time we go grocery shopping from now on we are going to buy one extra thing and leave it in the donation box at our grocery store. If every one bought just one extra thing those bins would be full every day. And it really doesn't cost too much, but it helps so much.

I've received a bunch of emails from people who have done nice things for others in memory of Benjamin. I am putting them all together in a list so that I can print it off and put it in his book. I don't want to miss any, so if you haven't let me know what you did, you can put it in the comments on here.

Thank you to everyone who took part in this. Yesterday could have been a very hard day but whenever I started getting sad I was able to think about all the nice things that were happening because of him. All the people who were doing just one simple act of kindness in his memory. It truly made the day a happy celebration of his life, not just a sad day about his passing. So thank you for that.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Birthday Benjamin

Dear Benjamin,

It doesn’t seem right that an entire year has passed since you were born. It honestly feels like just yesterday I was still pregnant with you, still wondering how you being here would change our little family. I wish so badly to be able to go back to those days.

When they told me you had died I was devastated. I could not bring myself to believe that you had actually died. That we wouldn’t get to bring you home and watch you grow up. It was just too painful, too unfair. But that’s what happened. Your life was the 36 weeks you spent nestled inside me. These days I like to tell myself that all you ever knew was love. That you never had to feel pain, feel sadness, feel hatred, or feel alone. You were always with me and I believe you knew how much I loved you. I believe you heard your daddy and your brother and knew how much they loved you too. I think you knew your family.

This year has been an interesting one. When I think back to the day you were born it feels like just yesterday, but when I think of how much has happened this year it feels like these 12 months were actually 3 years. So much has changed. YOU have changed so much in this family, and in this world. How can one little baby that never got to take a breath of air change so much? By the love that so many people felt for him, by the impact that his death had on so many people. And you know what Benjamin? So many people did love you and were so saddened by your death; people that we know and people that we don’t even know. Your little life touched people all across the world. So many people know who you are.

I don’t know what I believe happened to you when you died. I don’t believe in heaven and hell and all of that. But I don’t believe in reincarnation either. I certainly don’t believe that you just ceased to exist once you died. I guess I believe you are still around somehow, still watching over us. I find I talk to you sometimes, mostly when I am alone in the car. That’s our special time and I can talk to you and cry for you. I don’t cry as much as I used to. That definitely does not mean that I don’t miss you anymore though. It just means that I have accepted the unfairness of your death. I know you had to die.

How I wish that you were here to blow out the candle on your cake tonight. One of my happiest memories of Jackson was watching him demolish his first birthday cake. My heart actually aches right now thinking about how I won’t get to watch you do that. I am going to bake you a cake anyway. Jackson is going to blow out your candle and then we’ll all have some of it. We won’t use forks and we’ll try to make a mess for you.

I love you Benjamin; just as much today as I did a year ago. That love will never go away and will never diminish. I could go on to have twenty more children and none of them will take any of my love for you away. But each and every one of them would know they have a sweet baby brother named Benjamin.

So if you are around, watching over us, please make this day easy for your daddy and I. Please give us ways to think of you with a smile and a happy heart. Don’t let us dwell on the pain and unfairness of losing you. Remind us that even though you are not physically here with us you will always live on in our hearts and in the laughs of your brother and sister. Please know that tonight when I kiss Jackson goodnight I’m giving him an extra kiss for you. And when I cuddle Lexi while she sleeps please know I’m cuddling her extra lovingly for you. I love you sweetie and I miss you so much.

Happy Birthday Honeybun.

Love,

Monday, November 9, 2009

One year ago

One year ago today, basically to the minute, is when we found out Benjamin had died. It's a hard day today.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The closer it gets...

I don't know how to refer to the day. Is November 11th Benjamin's birthday? I guess, technically, it is, but it just doesn't feel right to call it that. I know a lot of people refer to the day a stillborn baby is born as their angelversary, but I am not religious and don't believe that he is an angel, so that doesn't fit either. For simplicity sake I have been referring to the day as his birthday. I mean, he was born on that day after all. But really it should just be Benjamin's day. A day to celebrate him and all that he was and all that he could have been.

As the day gets closer it seems to be taking up more and more of my thoughts. It doesn't help that every where I look I am reminded of the fact that November 11th is almost here. For anyone not familiar with the Canadian Remembrance Day, it is a day that is spent honouring war vetrans and people wear a poppy for days leading up to November 11th. I am so much more aware of them this year, it seems that they are out in an abundance. I see them on everyone's lapels, I see them in bins by the register in stores, I see them scattered on the ground (those pins never do stay in your coat!). They are just everywhere. I'm not sure how I feel about this. Some days it makes me sad to see them, some days it makes me happy, some days it makes me angry. Sad because it's a reminder of how close it is to a year since Benjamin was born. Happy because it makes me think about him. And angry because I want the day to just be about Benjamin. I don't want his birthday to fall on such a somber day. It doesn't feel fair to me that so many other people will be sad on his birthday. I want that all to myself. I know it's irrational, but it's how I feel.

I just spent some time working on Benjamin Boxes. I compiled a resource list of websites that are useful to bereaved parents. I also wrote a letter about why I have made the boxes. In doing all of this I also went back and read some of the stuff I wrote after he was born. Some of it is posted on here, some of it isn't. It opened up some wounds that I thought had healed. But in a way it felt good to revisit those emotions.

I hope some of you are thinking of things to do in Benjamin's memory on Wednesday. I have heard from some people that they are planning on doing something and that means a lot to me. Thank you.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Idea for Benjamin's birthday

I asked a bunch of people for ideas on ways to 'celebrate' Benjamin's first birthday. One of the suggestions I got totally took me off guard with how much I love it. How perfect it seems. I am posting it here now so that everyone has a chance to plan for it. That's right, it involves all of you!

The idea is a Random Acts of Kindness Day. Basically everyone does something on that day for someone else in Benjamin's memory. You can donate time, money, goods, etc. You can help out a neighbour, a friend, a family member or a stranger. You can clean up your neighbourhood. Whatever you want to do that helps to improve the lives of others. Then after you have done it come on here (I'll have a post for this on his birthday or the day before or after) and let me know what you have done. My plan is to print off all the kind acts and put them in his memory box. I want this to be a yearly tradition so that years from now I can look at the lists from each year and see what a positive difference his short life has made in this world.

Another suggestion that a friend made was to start a scrapbook for him. In the book I would put a letter or card to him each year, a page for each year showing what we did on his birthday, a yearly family photo with the blanket he was wrapped in in the hospital (maybe including the birthday cake I'll make for him), when the kids are older they could draw him a picture each birthday and that would go in it, and it could be the scrapbook that I make with his photos and mementos from the hospital. I love this idea because then he gets a scrapbook that gets added to every year! That was one thing I was really upset about, that any book I made for him had an ending. This one won't and that makes me happy. So thank you for that suggestion Tracy!!

Anyways, start thinking about what you want to do for Benjamin's Random Acts of Kindness day. It doesn't have to be anything elaborate or time consuming. Just something to make the world a little bit better. Even if it's just spending a little more quality time with your kids with no distractions and no expectations, just a little extra time loving them out loud. And then come here and tell me what you did. That part of this is important.

Monday, October 26, 2009

One month



Lexi was a month old yesterday. I took her photo in the black chair. Jackson was born on the 30th of the month and every 30th I would take his photo in the black chair. That way I could see the changes and his growth month by month.

On December 11th of last year I was so sad. All I could think about was that I should be taking Benjamin's photo in the black chair. I wanted so desperately to take his photo in that stupid chair. It was so unfair to me that I could not do that.

Last night we propped Lexi up in that black chair and took her photo. As happy as I was to do it I could not help but think about how unfair it was that I never got to do the same for Benjamin. I am going to have monthly photos of Lexi in that chair, just as I do for Jackson, and I will cherish both sets of them. But it still sucks that I don't even have one photo in that chair of their brother. Such a stupid thing. It's just a photo. In a chair that is usually covered in cat fur. There are so many more important things that should upset me that they will have that Benjamin will not. Yet this is what makes me sad. I suppose it will every month.

And while I'm posting on here I'll bring up another issue. Actually I'll bring up two. The first is how freaking sick and tired I am of hearing people say how lucky I am to have a boy and a girl. "One of each, how nice, you have the perfect family". "A boy and a girl, you must be so happy". "A millionaire's family, how fantastic". Ummm. NO. I do not have ONE of each. Yes, that is all that you can see, but every single time someone says this to me all I can think is that I am NOT lucky to have one of each. I am not so happy to have one of each. It is not fantastic. It sucks. It is depressing. It is unfair and it is shitty. Sure I have one boy and one girl here with me. But I am supposed to have two boys. Or two boys and a girl. I am not supposed to just have two children. In my heart I have three and that is just so painful that no one can see that.

The second issue is that if Benjamin had not of died we would not have Lexi. As shitty as that is, it is probably true. I highly doubt we would have still gotten pregnant at 2 months postpartum. I don't think we are that sadistic. So no, we probably would not have Lexi in our lives right now. We would have a 2 1/2 year old boy and an almost 12 month old boy. Maybe I'd be pregnant again by now, but I certainly would not have a 1 month old girl too. So if he had not died we would not have her. That brings up the issue of which way is better? If Benjamin hadn't died we wouldn't have Lexi. So to have one we can't have the other. Either Benjamin or Lexi. Would I rather Benjamin not have died, not have gone through that horrible pain, and instead have my little one year old running around the house right now? Or is it best the way it is now? Have gone through that pain of losing Benjamin and be the person I am now with the one month old daughter? I know Benjamin gave me many gifts and changed who I am in more ways than anyone (myself included) can imagine, but would I rather be in the life I could have had if he had lived? Thinking these thoughts makes me sad. Sad that I question if I'd rather Lexi never have existed. Sad that I question whether I want her as much as I would have wanted her brother. But that's not it. It's not that I want her or him. It's more a question of whether I want this life or that life. The pain and the changes and the heartache that came with losing him, but also the awareness and experiences that came with it. Or whether I would have preferred not to have gone through all of that and not have gone through the changes that he created. As surprising as it seems, I think I prefer this life. As much as my heart hurts every day for him, i know that he gave me so many gifts and opportunities. As much as I wish he were here with me right now, I know that he will always be in my heart. He will always be such an important part of my life. He will live on in his older brother and his sister. Those glimpses of him that I see in Lexi are there to remind me that in addition to all the gifts he gave me he gave me one more. His sister is here because he could not be. And for that I love him even more.


His birthday is coming up. I don't know what to do about that. I know it's going to be hard. I don't know how badly it's going to hit me. I can rationally look at it as it's just another day. Just another day without him. What should it matter that it's the one year anniversary of the day he was born. And really which day should be harder? November 7th, the day they figure he died? November 9th, the day we found out he had died? November 11th, the day he was born? Or November 13th, the last day I got to hold him? All those dates suck. I think November 11th is going to be the worst. Not just because that is the day that it became such a reality, but because that is also Remembrance Day. It's a national day of mourning. A day when everyone will be thinking about and talking about people who have died. No matter where you are at 11:11am there is a moment of silence to think about those who have died. Last year during that moment we were holding our son, dealing with the undeniable reality that he had died. How is that moment going to hit me this year? Will it be hard every year for me or will it be a sweet reminder of my beautiful baby boy? Being sad that he died can't change the past. It won't bring him back. On November 11th, 2008 we got to meet our son. We got to look at his beautiful face and see who he looked like. Sure he was born still, but it is still his birthday. I hope on that day I can think of it that way. I want to do something nice on that day. Something that can be a family tradition for him. We don't have a gravesite to go to, or a special place that makes us think of him. I want something to do that Jackson and Lexi will know is in memory of their brother. I want something to do that can make Brian and I happy to think of our baby boy. I want something to do that is just for us, just for our family. I want it to be fun and happy. I don't want the day to be about sadness and crying. I want Jackson and Lexi to see us remembering their brother with smiles and love. So if anyone has any suggestions I'd love to hear them.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Remembering the babies


I tried to think of some way to write what October 15th was all about. I couldn't. Then a woman on a support forum I go on posted this. It sums it up so beautifully. Thank you Terri.


Dear Friends,


Tomorrow is October 15th. This may seem like any other day, but I assure you, it is not. On October 15th, we commemorate National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. We take a moment and collectively do what many of us do individually, in the quiet of our hearts and minds, every day: we remember the babies who are no longer with us, yet whose lives continue on each moment of each day as we live and breathe.

I write this on behalf of all of us. We are parents. We are mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers who grieve and yet we hope, we love, and we believe. We seek for our children’s lives to have meaning and for the world to remember them. We raise our living children with the knowledge that our families transcend heaven and earth.

We want you to understand so many things. But if I had to choose one thing, it would be this: we want you to remember our babies. We know sometimes you don’t know what to say, and that’s ok. But when you do talk about them, and you speak their names, it is a gift to us and a message that you know what we know to be so very, very true: their lifetimes, however short, have changed us. They made us who we are and we are proud of them. So on October 15th, light a candle, lift up a prayer, or take a moment and think of them.

I write this to honor them and to honor their families. I write this to say thank you to the mothers and fathers who reached out to me, a stranger in the dark, and said “I have been in this darkness, and I will hold your hand, and you will survive this.” This, to me, is the truest testament to how these special babies who graced this earth for such a short time, have changed it. A wave of strength surrounds these parents and I am forever grateful for them, and for their children, those who breathe and those who soar.

So on October 15th, will you take a moment? And when you do, I ask you to remember my son, Luke Michael Latham, who I held in my arms on April 10, 2007. I ask you to remember his aunt, my sister, Marion, who my mother held on April 27, 1977. I ask you to remember my cousin, Anna Claire Pilcher, whose mother Debbie saw her beautiful face on September 17, 1999.

I ask you to remember Luke’s friends in heaven, the babies of those who I am so honored to have in my life. There are many of us and our bond lives on this earth and beyond.

Cheyenne Cacciatore (7/27/1994). Kaira Elise Shroeder (6/22/2004). Hope Maxine Rollins (10/19/2008). Kayleigh Jennifer (10/26/2008). Natalie Rose (12/23/2008). Marley Kai (6/24/2008). Wiley Joseph (11/28/2008). Grace Jeri (9/14/2008). Elijah (8/15/2007). Parker Geofferson (9/15/2008). Liam Samuel (8/21/08). Aidan Jeanty (3/27/2009). Braeden Letera (11/3/2006). Jaden Elizabeth (7/16/2006). Maya Gabrielle (2/2/2007). Isobel Margaret Corsi (3/27/2007). Isabelle Ashley (4/9/2007). Alex Kean (3/9/2008). Elliot Joseph 5/15/2007). Michael Patrick Seeber (5/18/2006). Jocelyn Isabella White (3/27/2008). Carter Gene Tyson (4/15/2006). Callia Hope (9/30/2008). Hudson J. Henry (6/26/2008). Donn Lee (1/6/2009). Faith (3/7/2007). Jamel (1/1/2007). Sarah Faith (4/7/2007). Tobias Kirk (6/7/2007). Caiden Andrew Smith (11/14/2008). Kiley Marie (3/21/2009). Sophia Joanne (2/13/2009). Landon Charles Dunham (2/16/2009). Silas Allen Randall (8/1/2008). Madison Grace (9/21/2006). Benjamin William Herbert (11/11/2008). Braelyn & Azlyn Allen (11/20/2006). Chloe (7/18/2008). Connor White (May 21, 2008). Zachary Tyler Rooney (7/8/2009).


So as I sit here with Lexi contently nursing at my breast and Jackson sleeping peacefully in the room beside me I can't help but feel like a big part of my heart is missing. I have my candle burning by my pictures of Benjamin but I don't need a specific day to remind me to think about him. Some moments he's all I can think about. But I hope that on this particular day some of you think about him too. Think about him and all the other babies who were gone too soon.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. I will (hopefully) post more about this in another post. If you don't know much about this day then please google it. In the meantime here is a poem that I want everyone to read.


We are Parents

We are the parents who said goodbye too soon. We are the mothers and fathers who have no memories of smiles, hugs and ‘I love yous’. We are the parents who grieve for lives never lived. The parents who see our children grow alongside yours; only ours grow in our minds.

Yet, we are also the parents whose children remain sweet and innocent, newborns eternally.

We are the mothers with everlasting empty arms, and the fathers with eternal broken hearts.

We are the parents who cry when no one is watching, to save you the uncomfortableness of our pain. We are the parents whose hearts break each time we remember, sometimes hundreds of times a day, all dealt with internally.

We are the ones for whom every event has a part of sadness. The ones who cry in the shower, in the car, in the dark.

We are the parents who hurt so badly because we love so much.

The parents of the forgotten children. The children who had no chance to draw us a picture, preform a dance, or to sing us a song. The children who didn’t get to draw a breath, feel the earths atmosphere or let out a cry. Our children who we wrapped and loved, then we were forced to let go of too soon.

Our children are the ones who didn’t get the chance to make friends, or cakes, or mud pies. Our children who never got to go to school, answer back to us, or go to a ball. Our children who will have no first kiss, no true love, no wedding, no children of their own.

Our children, whom we long to hold so badly, it leaves us pained, sometimes so over whelmed it is hard to breathe. Our children who we long to be reunited with, when our time comes.

We are the parents forced to say goodbye too soon. The ones who ache eternally, no matter how you think we shouldn’t. Do not judge a broken heart unless you too have felt this pain, words can do no justice. Only know we are doing the best we can.

Please don’t forget who we are. It may have been years since we lost a child, but the heart knows no time.

And please, don’t ever forget to remember who our children are. They will forever make us who we are.

(Written with love by Tania Pulman 2007

forever loving my Cole, born Still 08/01/03)

Remember the little ones - Baby loss awareness week 2009

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Introducing Alexandra Simone


On Friday September 25th our little girl was born! I would say she was born kicking and screaming, but she's a very subdued baby, lol! She did make this squawking noise and then gave out a little cry, just enough to let me breath again. She was 6 pounds 13 ounces and 20" long. She's got a lot of dark hair and people say she looks like Jackson. Brian and I don't see it tho. I can see some similarities but mostly she just looks like a gorgeous baby.

We are adjusting well. She's still fighting jaundice issues so we are just waiting for that to clear up before we will believe that she won't have to go back in to the hospital. Hopefully the test this afternoon will put all of that to rest.

Jackson is loving having a little sister. He wants to constantly hold the baby. It's pretty cute.

I am going to post the full birth story as soon as I get it done (or in parts). There were a lot of difficult similarities between Lexi's birth and Benjamin's (for example they both started their inductions head down but turned footling breech during the labour, ending in a c-section for Lexi). All in all it was an emotionally difficult pregnancy and induction, but once she was in my arms it got easier. I still have moments where I am overcome by the 'what should have beens' but day by day I'm making it.

Here's some photos of our little peanut.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Just a quick update

So I went for my amnio on Monday morning. My HR OB also checked me to see if I am ready. They score your readiness on a scale of 0-10 (0-4 means you are not showing any signs of readiness and induction is not recommended, 4-6 means you could be induced, 6+ means you are definitely a good candidate for induction). I scored a 0. Yep, not even a pity point. So my body is not ready to be induced. Which is fine because we got the results from the amnio back and Thumper is also not ready. Her surfactant levels were around 30something, which puts her risk of lung issues at 15%. That's too high for us. So we continue to wait.

I go for another NST on Thursday and then another one on Tuesday. After my Tuesday appt I will have another consultation with my HR OB. At that point we will figure out the induction plan. He wants to induce me early/mid next week. We are good with that plan. The only problem now is my regular maternity doctor, the one that will deliver the baby, is away mid/end of next week. So it looks like some random doctor on call will be delivering my baby. I actually don't really care. I figure the nurses and Brian and I do most of the work anyways. Plus I'm sure my HR OB will be checking on me too, so I know I'll be in good hands.

In the meantime I'm hoping I just go into labour on my own. Any suggestions?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The day is near

Here's the plan of action. I go for another non-stress test and consultation with the high risk OB next Thursday. At that consultation he is going to give me a quick ultrasound to check my fluid levels and check how Thumper is doing. I will be 35 weeks, 6 days pregnant at that time. Then the following week (date still to be determined) I will go back to the hospital for an amniocentesis. This will tell us how ready the baby's lungs are. I think my doctor will also check me to see how ready my body is. Assuming everything is ready they will start the induction as soon as there is room on labour & delivery! If the amnio comes back saying Thumper is not ready yet then we will wait another few days, or a week, and do another amnio to check again. As soon as her lungs are mature enough we will start the induction.

Can you believe that in 2 weeks I might be holding my little girl?

If anyone has any experience with inductions, with babies born at 36/37 weeks, or with amniocentesis please leave me a comment (or email me) about it. I have been researching my options a little bit but would like some first hand advice. As you can imagine, I am a little stressed out about all of this!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Update on Thumper and I

Only 2-4 weeks left. Only 2-4 weeks left. Only 2-4 weeks left.

If I keep repeating that it will make the time go quicker right? It'll make everything stay good and healthy right?

So far (knock on wood) everything is still going well. I had an appointment with my high risk OB last week. This was a follow up from a very irritating appointment with my regular maternity doctor. Here's the background on that...

At the beginning of this pregnancy my mat doctor had told me that I would have so many ultrasounds I would be sick of them by the end. That I would be sent for routine non-stress tests from around 32 weeks on. That I would do kick counts. And that at 36/37 weeks they would do an amnio to check the baby's lung maturity and then induce me. That all sounded good to me. I was sent to a high risk OB around 12 weeks just to make sure things were good. In this doctor's report back to my regular mat doctor he outlined that I would need more monitoring and more support since this would be such a difficult pregnancy, emotionally wise mostly.

At my appointment earlier this month I asked my regular mat doctor what our game plan was for the rest of the pregnancy. He said that I would be sent for one more ultrasound, I might be sent for a non-stress test, and at 36 weeks we would meet to discuss whether he would let me go past term or not. Ummm.... Past term?? As in past 40 weeks?? Are you kidding me? I almost started hyperventilating right then and there. He said that he didn't want to do too many tests because sometimes they can lead to 'off readings' that would rush people to make decisions and lead to an unecessary c-section. Fair enough. But they can also show problems that we wouldn't have known about. They can also do a lot to ease my anxiety.

I left that appointment feeling so many things. Dissapointment, anxiety, fear, sadness, and just a general sense of being let down and alone. I had a therapy appointment that Friday and talked about all of this with her. She helped me to see that I wasn't overreacting and that I should make another appointment to go in and talk about this with him. That I should demand the care that I feel I need. If I feel further tests would ease my anxiety then push for them. If I feel I cannot go past a certain week of this pregnancy then make sure he knows that. There is no reason for him to make me go to term, let alone past term. From everything I've read and every website I've seen there are not too many women who have had a subsequent pregnancy after stillbirth that are made to go to term. Most are induced between 36 and 38 weeks.

Brian and I went back to see him early the next week. He had already called the high risk OB and was setting up an appointment for me to go and see him to get some questions answered. In the meantime we asked him all of our questions. He told us that he didn't want to send us for frequent non-stress tests because they generally are only useful for pregnancies where there are issues concerning the oxygen flow to the baby. He said this was not the case in my pregnancy with Benjamin. For those of you that don't know what a NST (non-stress test) is, it is a test where you are hooked up to two monitors. One measures the baby's heart beat and the other measures your contractions. Then you are usually also given a little clicker that you press every time you feel a movement. They then can see how the baby's heart rate reacts to movement and to contractions, to see if it is in any sort of distress in the womb. You generaly are hooked up for about 15 minutes. So anyways, my doctor felt this was not going to be overly useful to us. I pointed out that we don't know why Benjamin's blood clotted. That for all we know it was a slow building clot. And if that was the case then a NST would have been useful because if his blood was clotting then it would have been flowing slower and therefore oxygen would not have been getting to him like it should have. A NST would have shown that. He agreed with that but then added that the blood clot could have been a sudden thing and a NST would not have been helpful. Whatever. He said that he would be sending me to the high risk OB who would decide the course of action. Basically the HR OB will make the decisions and my regular mat doctor will just follow through with his orders. So my mat doctor is the HR OB's bitch.

So last week I had my appointment with the high risk OB. It was a MUCH better appointment. I went in there with my list of what I wanted to happen.

1. I want routine NSTs.
2. I want at least one more ultrasound with the option of having more if they will give me some reassurance.
3. I want weekly visits with him.
4. I want an amnio at 36/37 weeks and to be induced as soon as the baby is ready.
5. When the induction is started I want to be admitted to the hospital until the baby is born (sometimes they start the process and send you home to do early labour at home).

I didn't even have to tell him my list. He was already planning to do almost all of that! He wants to see me weekly. He's scheduling me for weekly NSTs. I have an ultrasound tomorrow and possibly more after that.

As for the induction dates. He kept reminding me that we have to keep what happened with Benjamin fresh in our minds, but treat this pregnancy as what it is; a healthy uneventful pregnancy. So we have to do what is best for Thumper. I know all of this and obviously that is my first concern. But it's just so hard to truley believe that everything will work out well. To believe, without a doubt, that she will be born screaming. So he said that if any of the tests come back showing serious life-threatening concerns then we will get her out right away. If the tests all continue to be normal but I am having a really hard time (emotionally) then we can do an amnio around 36 weeks and induce if she is ready. Otherwise he will induce me around 37/38 weeks. He said that he will not make me go past 38 weeks. Phawoo!! That was such a relief to hear all of that. I just cannot imagine going much past 36 weeks. That is my breaking point I think.

Most people who have had a stillbirth or a pregnancy loss have that one special week. That week where it all went wrong. Through their pregnancy they aim for this week, thinking "if I can just get past xx week then it will all be okay". I've got the reverse. Everything was great until 36 weeks. So I feel more along the lines of "if I can just get to 36 weeks then it will be okay". After that week I feel like I am tempting fate. It's hard to think otherwise.

So last week I had my first NST of this pregnancy. Thumper wasn't cooperating very well and decided that was a great time to have a nap, lol! But her heart rate did fluctuate a lot. Apparently I didn't have any contractions the entire time I was hooked up to the monitors, which is odd because I have been having a lot of contractions the last few weeks. I go for another NST tomorrow so we'll see what happens at that one.

And that's my update.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Paranoia?

I'm sure, based on my history, this is totally normal. Totally understandable and totally expected. But damn! I possibly have another 10 weeks of this? I will be 30 weeks on Friday. Thumper is getting bigger and probably going to start running out of room soon. I get that. I understand that I will feel less strong movements. I get that I will feel less intense kicks and more jabs or rolls. That doesn't mean I won't worry about it.

When I was pregnant with Benjamin I told my midwife numerous times that he wasn't as active as I thought he should be. 'Every pregnancy is different' 'every baby is different' 'Jackson was a very active baby, this baby is just more relaxed'. Blah blah blah. I knew all of this. I told myself all of this too. I'm sure it was all true. I'm sure that's all it was. There was no reason to think that Benjamin would one day just stop moving all together. He was active and 'normal' right up until the day he died. There was no way to know that his life was in danger. Easy to tell myself that, not so easy to believe it.

A few times a day I find myself wondering if Thumper is as active as she 'should' be. If I haven't felt much movement for a while I almost convince myself that she is dead. It's a horrible thing to do, but it happens just the same. If she's not moving very much, or if she isn't kicking strongly I convince myself it's because she's weak from poor blood flow. I have no reason to think that her blood isn't flowing properly. No reason to think that there is anything wrong. But then again, I didn't last time either.

Ten weeks of this left. Ten weeks. Ten weeks to wonder if today is going to be the day. Will I wake up and realize that she hasn't been moving? Will I wonder when the last time she moved was? Will I have to face that nightmare again? As gut wrenching as it is, at least I know now that I could handle it. Plus I'm prepared for it this time. How sad is that? How sad is it that I am prepared to find out my baby has died? Where is the blissful naivity of my first pregnancy? Or hell, even my second pregnancy? It makes me sad (and mad) to know that Thumper doesn't get that. She doesn't get the excitement and joy that her mommy should feel when she thinks about the day she will be born. Instead she gets doubt and guarded optimism (as fake as it sometimes feels). She gets a closet full of clothes and diapers hidden from view, just in case the worst happens again. Better to have it all hidden away so that reminder doesn't smack me in the face when I come home with an empty womb and even emptier arms.

She doesn't deserve this. She deserves to be celebrated and joyously looked forward to. She deserves all the love and excitement that both her brothers got. I just wish I could whole-heartedly give it to her. I wish that I could look to October and actually imagine her in my arms, alive and screaming.

On another depressing note... July 11th passed by without a single tear. July 18th did not. I was on vacation, visiting family for the past few weeks. On July 11th I was at my parents cottage, having a nice day. It never dawned on me that Benjamin would have been 8 months old that day. I didn't acknowledge his monthly birthday. I didn't spend part of the day thinking about what should have been. I didn't mourn him. And when I realized that on July 18th, a full week later, I was horrified. How could I have not realized it? How could I have let the day pass without thinking about him every minute? I felt like I had let him down, like I didn't care enough. Like I wasn't mourning him properly. I know it's irrational, but I could not stop myself from thinking those thoughts. I still feel guilty and sad about that.

Monday, June 29, 2009

::sigh::

I had a prenatal appointment today. Everything looks good. Thumper is doing well, I'm doing well, everything is just peachy. And yet, in the middle of the appointment that little nagging bit of doubt crept in there and I had to take a moment to compose myself.

I am 25 weeks pregnant. The baby is roughly 1.5 pounds. Still tiny. I was concerned because the last few times I've used my doppler to listen to her heartbeat it has fluctuated from a strong fast beat to a slower fainter beat. I know that's normal. I know that. But it still freaks me out a bit because the theory is that Benjamin died from a blood clot caused by him compressing his cord. So when Thumper's heart rate slows I just imagine it's because she's planted herself on her cord and is compressing it. And then she'll get a blood clot and die. That is immediately where my mind goes. Even tho, logically, I know it's normal. All babies compress their cords. And most do live.

My doctor assured me that Thumper is still too small to compress her cord. That fluctuations are totally normal. As long as her heart rate is speeding back up quickly then she's fine. That if the heart rate stays below 100 for any length of time then I should be concerned. But basically he told me that, at this point, there is no cause for alarm. Then he went on to state that what happened to Benjamin was a total fluke, like being struck by lightening, and it should not happen to one person more than once. He must have sensed my reaction to that statement because he went on to state that he knows I won't believe that until I am holding this baby safe and healthy in my arms. I just cannot put any faith in statistics and such. It wasn't supposed to happen once, why shouldn't it happen again.

Then I also got a copy of my files since I am going on vacation next week. I want to take a copy of my pregnancy files just in case I have to go to the hospital while I am away. Obviously I read the files, even though I knew there was going to be a lot of stuff on Benjamin in them. Right at the top it goes over my obstetrical history. It has Benjamin listed as 'induced fetal demise, breech'. And then under the heading for 'present health' it simply has N/A. Not applicable. Obviously I know that is true, but it's just so clinical and harsh. God how I wish it was applicable.

Then in the report from my high risk doctor I am referred to as a G3P1SA1. Curiosity got the better of me and I googled what that meant (damn Google!). G means Gravita, which means woman. The 3 is for 3 pregnancies. P is for Para, which is used for the number of previous successful live births. And SA is for Spontaneous Abortions. So in those short 7 characters you can see that I have had 3 pregnancies, one 'successful live birth' and one 'spontaneous abortion'. A spontaneous abortion? Doesn't that sound nice. So clean and clinical. Now I realize these reports cannot be all compassionate and gloss over the cold hard facts, but damn! That just sounds horrible! Let's hope in October I become a G3P2SA1!

The report went on to state that I should be seen more frequently during this pregnancy for various reasons, including emotional support. "She indeed got pregnant very soon after she lost her baby last November and as a result of that is up for a very emotional, stressful rollercoaster during this pregnancy. There was just no time for her to have grieved properly the recent loss of her baby". Ummm..... I thought there was no right and wrong way to grieve? I thought time would NOT heal all wounds? I thought every one grieved on their own time line? Who's to say this isn't the best way for me to grieve. Who's to say that I am not grieving every freaking day, regardless of the fact that I am pregnant! Who's to say that if I had waited to get pregnant that would not have been harder on me? I want more children. I want a living, breathing, crying, healthy freaking baby in my arms! That does not, in any way, diminish the loss I feel for my son! I can mourn him and at the same time try to be hopeful for this baby. They are not mutually exclusive. I understand that this pregnancy is going to be very emotional and stressful. I think even if I had waited months, or years, it would have been very emotional and stressful. Time will not change that. Time will not erase the pain of losing Benjamin. It will not make the hurt and disbelief that it happened or the belief that it might happen again go away. I will feel this way for every pregnancy I have, regardless of how much time I have had to grieve my sweet baby Benjamin.

I washed all my baby clothes this weekend. I had a bunch that a friend gave to me before she moved. They are all boy's clothes. A bunch of them had small stains on them because her son was a big spitter-upper and was on medication for it that stained clothes. I was able to get almost all the stains out, which I was very pleased about because the clothes are really cute. I also washed the big bag of girl clothes my sister handed down to me. Most of them are 12 months or older. So if Thumper is indeed a girl she's going to be wearing a whole lot of blue, lol! But I'll wait to go shopping until I get a better indication of the gender of this stubborn little baby! I go for another ultrasound on August 5th, so lets hope s/he is a little less modest at that scan!

So that's my update for today.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A trip to labour and delivery

I think this might have been #1 of potentially many trips to labour and delivery for me this pregnancy. For a few days last week I had been crampy but had just attributed it to doing too much around the house. Then on Friday afternoon I was out grocery shopping and got pretty intense heart palpitations and then everything went black. I didn't actually pass out but it left me dizzy and shaky. As soon as I was done shopping I went to work to see Brian. After discussing it for a while we decided that I should go to L&D, just to be safe.

I was terrified to go. I wasn't worried that there would be any problems with Thumper since she was moving around like crazy all day. I was just terrified that they would put me in assessment room #1. That's where I went when my blood pressure was through the roof with Jackson and that's where I went when they told me Benjamin had died. That room is not a good room for me. I could not bear the thought of going into that room again after the last time I was in there.

As soon as I got to the nurses station I started bawling. I just knew they would tell me to go in that room. They guessed that I thought I was in labour. I said no but couldn't get anything else out. Then they told me to go to Assessment room #1. I immediately said 'no, I don't want to go in that room' and I think with the fear in my voice and the sobbing they figured out right away not to put me in there. Instead they sent me to room #3.

Room #3 is a fantastic room for me. The best room on the floor. I would happily spend every day of this pregnancy in that room. That was the room that Jackson was born in. That is the room that wonderful, amazing, awe-inspiring things happen in. That is the room that I became a mom in. ONLY good things can happen in that room.

I told the nurse why I was there and what my history is. I told her about Benjamin. She was wonderful, as I'm suspecting all the nurses at this hospital are. The doctor came in and took my full history, then started checking me out. They listened to the baby's heart beat (152 bpm), they checked my blood pressure (a bit high, but I think it was just the anxiety from being there), they checked my blood oxygen level, they ran blood work, they even did an EKG. They were very very thorough. The doctor said that he was probably being overly cautious and doing some unnecessary tests, but with my history they'd rather be overly thorough than miss something. Everything came back normal. They don't know why I was crampy or why I almost blacked out. But I am fine now.

I am glad that I went though. They were so wonderful to me. The nurse told me that I would never be seen as a bother or anything, that they would rather see me every day for the rest of this pregnancy than miss that one time that I should have come in. They only want me to have a healthy screaming baby at the end of this. It gave me so much reassurance to know that any time I feel off in the slightest that I should not hesitate to go to l&d. Normally I have a problem with that. I hate feeling like I am inconveniencing people or overreacting to something. But they made me feel better about it, helped me understand that I have every right to react strongly to any concerns this pregnancy. And they totally made me feel welcome there.

And the nurse put it on my chart that I am not to be seen in Assessment Room #1. I would rather be seen in the hall than go back in that room. Phawoo.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A good day

I started a support group with another mom that lost a baby. We've had a few meetings now and seem to get a new member every month. That sounds impressive but considering we've only been having meetings for 3 months now that just means that there are now 5 members of our group, lol. At our last meeting we were talking about giving birth. One of the members was talking about how she's only had cesarean sections and really wants to experience a vaginal birth. That got all of us talking about giving birth and all the positive experiences and feelings of it. For the first time this pregnancy I had flutterings of excitement.

I love giving birth. I am one of those odd women that enjoys going into labour, going through the hours of labour leading up to the birth, and then that glorious moment when the baby first comes out and you feel that sudden change. That change from being one being with your baby to suddenly having them out in the world, out into your arms. Where you can look at them, kiss them, hold them in your arms and just be in pure utter awe of them. All the hours of discomfort, pain, excitement and fear just dissipate in that moment. And there he is, your baby, your glorious baby.

My labour and delivery with Jackson was textbook. It had it's moments of worry but all in all it was a beautiful experience. My labour and delivery with Benjamin was as good as it could have been given the circumstances. I still had that moment when he first came out and I got to see him. Granted it was bittersweet, but it was still that moment that you wait for. That moment to finally see the little bean that has been kicking, punching, rolling, and hiccuping away inside of you. To finally see face to face who you've gotten to know over those past few months.

So on Friday I finally had that excitement. That flutter in my gut and in my heart when I thought about when Thumper would be born. I was actually able to imagine that moment when Thumper becomes his/her own separate entity and the doctor places him/her on my chest and I can just gaze at the glory that is my new baby. I'm not ready yet to imagine that the baby that is placed on my chest will be living, breathing and screaming, but I know I'll get there.

It was a good day.

Friday, May 29, 2009

How are babies made?

Obviously I know how a baby is made. But how is it possible for a perfect little baby to be born. Alive. With all it's limbs, fingers, toes, internal organs, etc. How is it possible for a baby to stay in the safe comforting womb for 9 months and then be born? Healthy? With no medical issues? It just blows my mind.

Ever since Benjamin was born I have spent some time on different grief support boards on the internet. It shocks and saddens me to read so many personal accounts of 'what should have been' turning into 'what should never happen'. There is so much sadness and so many young lives lost before they even truly began. It just doesn't make sense.

What amazes me more than the mind blowing number of losses is the fact that there are SO many healthy babies born. When I was pregnant with Benjamin I was a member on an expecting club on the internet. All these women were due in December too. On that board there were many women who left our group early in their pregnancies. You expect this. Any pregnant woman knows the rough estimates of early miscarriage. You know that almost a quarter of all known pregnancies will end in an early miscarriage. This knowledge does not make an early loss any less devastating and in fact it really increases the anxiety during the first critical couple weeks. On this particular board there were well over a hundred woman (I have no idea how many there really were, but it seemed like a ton!). By the beginning of January everyone had had their babies. Of all these women there was one baby that died very shortly after birth (Ruby), another that died three and a half days after birth (Bregan), and one stillborn (Benjamin). Way too many losses, but amazing to think that out of all these women there were *only* three babies that lost their lives too early. How the hell did so many babies make it?

There are so many things that can go wrong in a pregnancy. So many things that can go wrong during the labour and delivery. So many things that can go wrong in the days following birth. And then don't even get me started on the whole SIDS topic. It amazes me that Jackson has made it to 2 years (tomorrow!) with no lasting problems. How did we make it? Even though I know the odds are that a baby will be born healthy and living, it still feels like we defied the odds with him. Like we are lucky as all get-out that he is with us.

I had a doctor appointment the other day with a fill-in doctor and we got to talking about all my pregnancies. I told her about when Jackson was born and how he had severe jaundice and how the doctors thought it must have been a blood incompatibility issue for his bili levels to be that high. But then I had no antibodies, so it was rare that his levels got that high. Then with Benjamin dying from blood clots in his cord, with neither Brian nor I having blood clotting issues. So it was incredibly rare for that to have happened at all. Then with this baby having the cyst on it's brain. Not incredibly rare, but only 1-3% of all fetus' have them. You know, I'd really like a pregnancy that is normal. I'm not looking for rare cases and having 'special' pregnancies. Just a plain ole run of the mill pregnancy would suit me just fine thanks.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A difficult week

This week has been hard. Surprisingly hard.

Sunday was Mother's Day. I thought about Benjamin a lot, thought about how this is the first Mother's Day that I am a mother to two boys. Yet only one of them was there to celebrate it with me. To give me kisses and hugs. It just wasn't right. But it was still a good day. Brian and Jackson gave me a present for the day. It was a big Ficus Benjamina. A perfect gift for the day.

Monday was six months since Benjamin was born. The day hit me like a ton of bricks. I was fine for the morning but as the day wore on it just got harder and harder to resist crawling into bed and just crying the day away. I couldn't stop thinking about how our lives should have been that day. He should be perfecting sitting up, babbling at me with his chubby little face, grabbing at me with his chubby little hands. He should have been having his first taste of solid foods. I should have been taking his 6 month birthday photo. It just was not right that he was not here to do all the things. It's unreal to me that he has been gone for six months. Half a year. That is just too long. I can't believe I have made it this long without him. It surprises and slightly saddens me that I don't seem to mourn him as badly as I used to. I know it's 'normal' and I know it's healthy but it still just seems wrong somehow. Like I've moved on and put him in my past. And that's not true. He's still a big part of my life, a big part of my thoughts and he always will be. Time will never change that.

Tuesday I had my 'big ultrasound'. When the ultrasound technician started the scan she focused on checking my cervix and the placenta and all that. I immediately asked her to please first find the baby's heartbeat. I needed to see that first. A big part of me was terrified that the baby would not have a heartbeat. But s/he did and it was beating strong and healthy. Everything about the baby looks good except for one tiny issue. The baby has a cyst on the brain. Apparently it is quite common (1-3% of all fetus' have them) and not harmful at all. The only concern with them is that there is a slight correlation between these cysts and Trisomy 18 and 21. In most cases the cyst just disappears on it's own by the third trimester. I have my doctor appointment tomorrow so we'll go over this then. I will also be getting my blood screening tests back tomorrow which will tell me my odds of this baby having T18 or T21. And my gestational diabetes tests will also be back. It's going to be a full appointment.

Friday is Brian and my 5th anniversary. Five years. That's a long time and yet it feels like I have known and loved him for many more years than only five. We've been through so much and are such a stronger couple than I ever thought we would have to be. He knows just what to do when I am having a hard time. On Monday when I finally broke in the evening he just sat beside me and held me, letting me get his shirt soaked with tears and snot, lol! He didn't try to reason with me, didn't try to talk me down, just let me get it all out in my own time. Exactly what I needed him to do.

I also have another grief support group on Friday night. This is a group that Heather and I started. There is no support group for pregnancy and infant loss in our area. That amazed us and we felt there was such a need for one that we started it ourselves. We've had two meetings so far. The first meeting included the two of us and my friend that just lost her baby. The second meeting had the three of us and then another couple who lost their beautiful son to SIDS. This week we might have two new members. This is not the type of group that you think 'the more the merrier'. Every new member means that another baby has died. But I am so glad that we are all able to be there for each other. I know how alone a newly bereaved parent can feel.

So that's my week. Kinda sucks eh?

A good poem

“A Pair of Shoes”

I am wearing a pair of shoes.
They are ugly shoes.
Uncomfortable shoes.
I hate my shoes.
Each day I wear them, and each day I wish I had another pair.
Some days my shoes hurt so bad that I do not think I can take another step.
Yet, I continue to wear them.
I get funny looks wearing these shoes.
They are looks of sympathy.
I can tell in others eyes that they are glad they are my shoes and not theirs.
They never talk about my shoes.
To learn how awful my shoes are, might make them uncomfortable.
To truly understand these shoes, you must walk in them.
But, once you put them on, you can never take them off.
I now realize that I am not the only one who wears these shoes.
There are many pairs in this world.
Some woman are like me and ache daily as they try and walk in them.
Some have learned how to walk in them so they don’t hurt quite as much.
Some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by before they think about how much they hurt.
No woman deserves to wear these shoes.
Yet, because of these shoes I am a stronger woman.
These shoes have given me the strength to face anything.
They have made me who I am.
I will forever walk in the shoes of a woman who has lost a child.

- Author unknown

Monday, April 27, 2009

How to tell Jackson

I struggle with how or when to tell Jackson that he has a little brother. He never knew I was pregnant, never knew Benjamin was born or that he died. He sees his pictures on the side table. He sees me crying a lot. I know he understands that something sad happened. He visited me in the hospital.

I don't remember what I was doing the other day but I was at my computer and a photo of Benjamin came up unexpectedly. Jackson was sitting on my lap and I told him that the picture was of Benjamin. I told him that he was his little brother. I told him that Mommy misses him very much and that was why mommy cries a lot. And of course I started crying. He was concerned and said Mama about 20 times. I tried to pull it together but it's hard sometimes. I hate crying in front of him. I hate that he gets concerned. I hate that he doesn't know why I'm crying and sometimes takes it personally. I hate telling him that 'Mommy is sad'. But some days I am sad. Some days I just need to cry. Some days I can't hold it in until he is napping.

I want him to know all about Benjamin. I want him to know that he has a little brother. A little brother that didn't get a chance to live outside of me. But I don't want it to scare him. He's too little to know death that well. He's too little to be scared that another baby will die. I've got that covered enough for the both of us. I want him to be innocent and naive. I want him to know that I am pregnant now and to believe that in October he will have a little baby to fawn over.

But I am scared. I'm scared to tell him I'm pregnant. I'm scared to explain to him that I will be having a baby. I'm scared that if I tell him all of that and the worst happens again then I will have to tell him that horrid news. I am glad that he never knew I was pregnant with Benjamin. I'm glad I didn't have to look at his sweet face and tell him that his baby that he was so excited about was not going to come home with us. I'm glad that I didn't have to see him sad about it. My heart could not have taken that.

So now I just don't know what to do. I don't know when to tell Jackson that I am pregnant. I don't know when to tell him all about Benjamin. I don't know what is appropriate to tell a 2 year old and what is best left until they are older. I don't want to keep anything from him, but I don't want to unnecessarily burden him with sadness.

Eventually he'll know I'm pregnant. Hopefully that happens when he comes to visit me in the hospital with a screaming kicking baby in my arms.

And eventually he'll know all about Benjamin. When the time is right. Whenever that may be.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Enough already!

I am annoyed. I am fed up and annoyed. I am sick of doctors changing their damn minds about what happened with Benjamin. I am beyond frustrated with thinking we have the answer and a game plan for this pregnancy and then finding out a few weeks later that what we thought was true is not true. I am sick of it all!

I mean, he died five and a half months ago! What new information could possible still come up to change the cause of death?? They found something new? No, he's been cremated. I just don't get it. I don't get it at all and I am fed up with it.

First we were told that it was an unknown reason. That we probably would never know the reason that his heart stopped.

Then we were told that his left lung had completely clotted off. That that was the cause of his death.

Then we were told that he had blood clots in his umbilical cord and at least one traveled to his lung and that was the cause of death. The doctors went a bet further and said that Benjamin's blood was thicker than it should have been and when he was compressing his cord (which all babies do) the blood pooled up behind the compression and clotted.

I was sent for a gazillion vials of blood to be taken to test for blood clotting disorders. We were told that I might have a blood clotting disorder that got passed to Benjamin. I was also told that it might have just been a fluke. That his blood might have just been thicker because of some sort of gene mutation.

All my blood work came back normal. I don't have any kind of disorder. So in my follow up appointment with the high risk doctor I was told that Benjamin's death was just a fluke. That his blood was not thicker than it should have been. That it just clotted because he was compressing the cord. So now his cause of death is beeing deemed a 'cord accident'.

I have a problem with this. "Cord accident" is what they say when they don't know why the baby died. It's a catch-all to explain any unexplained stillbirth. We know why Benjamin died. We know he had blood clots. They said his blood was thicker. Now they are saying it wasn't. How the hell do they know this? There is no way, at all, for them to know if it was thicker or not. When they told me it was thicker I assumed they were speaking factually, based on the autopsy findings. Apparently it was all a theory. A theory that I put a lot of weight into. It gave me something to believe. Something to calm and reassure me that this baby would be okay. I'm on a daily dose of aspirin to keep this baby's blood thin. I thought that was the magic answer. Apparently that might not be true.

Just so sick of this. You would think that your baby dies, you get an autopsy done, you get genetic testing done, you should have some answers. It should not keep changing every couple weeks. How the hell can it keep changing? Do they even know what the heck they are talking about?

At this point it wouldn't surprise me if they came back and said he didn't have blood clots, that they were looking at the wrong charts and he actually died from something totally different.

But really, whatever the reason for his death doesn't change much. He still died. I'm still pregnant again and scared shitless at times. I will still be demanding more care, more thorough checkups, closer monitoring, more hand holding. I don't think that's too much to ask.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Random thoughts and an announcement

For the past 5 months there have been so many random thoughts, random reminders, random sucker punches. It's amazing how many things that seem so innocent and unimportant suddenly become so ridiculously apparent once you have lost someone.

For instance we watched that Benjamin Button movie the other day. Y'know the one where the person is born old and 'ages' younger? It was an odd, yet good, movie. The main character's name was Benjamin. I still cannot hear that name without getting a little choked up. But the clincher? The other main character's name was Daisy. Odd, right?

Another 'coincidence' was at Christmas when we bought one of those village houses that you can collect at Christmas. I opened the box and inside was a brochure for joining the collecting club. You have to pay for the membership and you get a 'free' collector's edition house. This year's house was "Benjamin's Watches". Of course it was. It took a lot for me not to join the stupid collector's club just so I could get that house. It seemed like some odd sign that I had to believe in.

Or anther time when Brian was moving some boxes for work. He had them all in the back of the van and when he opened the back door the box that was right at eye level was labeled 'Benjamin'. These were not our boxes and had absolutely no reason to be labeled that way.

And what is with all the people having stillbirths lately?? I know that I am hyperaware of them now, but it seems excessive. It seems like every week I hear of someone that has recently had a stillbirth, or their friend just had a stillbirth. It just happens way too often. Before I had Benjamin I never seemed to hear of it. I'm sure that was because it didn't affect me like it does now and so I just never paid as much attention then. That makes me sad. Sad to think that just because I never had a baby die, another mother's pain didn't mean as much to me. Like it wasn't important then. Now though, every time I hear a story of a mother losing a child it just cuts straight to my heart. I can vividly feel the pain they are going through, I can understand the turmoil they are in and the desperate wishing they are doing. I'm glad I can feel this now. I wish I could still be blissfully ignorant about it, but I am thankful that I can feel such empathy for others. I know they need it; need someone to understand and care. I know I needed it. Hell, I know I still need it.

We were visiting one of Brian's cousins this weekend. Stayed with them for the long weekend. It was a great trip. They didn't know very much about Benjamin. They knew he was stillborn, but that was basically all. I got to talk about him a lot this weekend. I need times like that. I need to be able to talk about him, tell more people about him. Keep his memory alive. It's all we've got of him.

As for the big announcement. Most of you already know, but I'll say it again. And then I'll obsess about it. I'm pregnant. Again. 14 weeks to be exact. I'm excited but I'm also scared shitless at times. I cannot wrap my head around the fact that there is no reason to believe that this baby will not be born alive. I had no doubt in my mind that Benjamin would be born alive in December and sitting on my lap Christmas day. I had the whole image worked out. Brian and Jackson would be sitting under the tree opening presents while I sat with the baby on the couch nursing him/her. We were going to be a happy little family of four. That hurt so much to not have happen. Christmas morning was tough because the image I so desperately wanted to play out never did. Instead we were both sitting at the tree with Jackson. It was still nice, but part of me just felt so empty.

So now I am supposed to be expecting to have another little baby come home with us in October. I'm due October 9th, but probably will be induced around 37 weeks, which would be around September 18th. I cannot bring myself to think in terms of 'when' but more in terms of 'if'. I know that is common among women who have gone through what I have. I wish I could go back to the blissfully ignorant days of my first pregnancy. Where I just thought everything would work out. No questions about it. I had the freaking nursery done at 25 weeks because I knew that the chances of the baby surviving at that gestational age were good! 25 weeks! As if the baby would be coming home to the nursery any time soon after the birth! So naive. So blissfully naive.

I am happy tho. We wanted to get pregnant as soon as possible. So far this pregnancy has gone smoothly. I have felt fine, so fine that it freaks me out because I don't feel pregnant. I am being monitored closely by my maternity doctor and a high risk OB. Everything is going as it should. Even the anxiety. It's hard to just 'relax and take it easy' when you have no point that you can just relax at. It's not like I have a magic week that I just have to make it past and then I can breath easier. I carried Benjamin to almost full term. By the time I make it to 34/36 weeks I'll be almost ready to deliver this baby. Where is the breathing easier there?

I just have to find a way to believe, honestly believe, that this baby is going to be fine and be born screaming bloody murder in another 23-26 weeks. I know all the stats, all the facts and all the logical reasons to think this baby will not be stillborn. I know all of that. Doesn't mean I know it in my heart tho.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sadness

A friend of mine is having her baby girl today. She is only 18 weeks pregnant. I am so heartbroken for her. Sad for what I know is ahead of her. Sad for the loss of the future she was so excited about, and sad for her as she faces this devastating new reality. I will be there for her in any way I can. As a mom who has gone through this hurt I feel the overwhelming urge to somehow make it easier for her. If I can provide some comfort, some compassion, some understanding, then it makes my loss a little more bearable. If losing my sweet baby Benjamin helps her find a way to cope with losing her sweet baby girl then I have done right by him.

I was at the store yesterday picking up some Easter chocolate for Jackson. I decided to look for a card for my friend. As I stood in the generic sympathy and thinking of you section I was disappointed with the selection. All the 'loss' cards talked about the happy memories you can hold onto, the years they spent touching our lives. What kind of card do you buy for a mom that is delivering her baby that will not create memories of their own? Where is the card for that? All the thinking of you cards were inadequate and trivial. Then I came across the card. The card that summed up this whole nightmare perfectly. The card that had me bawling in the aisles. Here is the poem in the card.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
We are all creatures
of this great earth -
interconnected in ways
beyond understanding.

Take elephants.
So big.
So strong.
And yet,
when a member
of the herd passes,
even elephants mourn.
They gather around.
extend their trunks,
and gently touch
the tusks
of their fallen friend.
It's their ritual.
It's how they heal.
And it's sad.
And it's beautiful.

So maybe
what we're trying to say
is that the world
doesn't expect you
to be fine with this.

Be how you need to be.
Mourn how you need to mourn.

And know that
you're thought of
with love.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And you are thought of with love today. As you face this nightmare that no mother should ever have to face. I am thinking about you all day, as I have for the past week and a half. Know that you are not alone. There are so many people that love you and that want to help you and be here for you, as you mourn. However you need to mourn.