Tuesday, March 10, 2009

17 weeks

Can you all believe that 17 weeks ago was the worst time of my life? Doesn't that seem like forever ago? And yet just the other day? 17 weeks ago right now I was waiting in my room for them to bring Benjamin back to me for the first time. 17 weeks ago right now Heather was waiting to take the photos that I will cherish forever. 17 weeks ago my life changed dramatically. 17 weeks ago my faith in the future and all things good changed. 17 weeks ago I lost any innocence I had. 17 weeks ago I knew firsthand what true heartache felt like. 17 weeks ago I felt my heart and soul crumple into a little ball. 17 weeks ago I was wishing so hard that I was in a nightmare and not a new reality. 17 weeks ago I knew that I had changed forever.

BUT 17 weeks ago I got to meet and hold my precious sweet baby boy. 17 weeks ago we became two bodies instead of one. 17 weeks ago I got to meet this little being who had been growing inside of me. 17 weeks ago I got to feel like a new mommy all over again. 17 weeks ago I learned the greatest pain any mom can know. But 17 weeks ago I learned the greatest love any mom can know too. 17 weeks ago I had to say goodbye to my baby, my hopes, my plans for the future I had dreamed of. 17 weeks ago I got to kiss his sweet head, caress his soft hair, and hold his precious little hands. 17 weeks ago I got to physically be his mom.

But for the last 17 weeks I have got to carry him in my heart. For 17 weeks I have got to look at his sweet photos and remember his gorgeous physical body. For 17 weeks I have been able to close my eyes and remember the feel of his hair, the feel of his skin. For 17 weeks I have been able to feel the consuming love for him in my heart. For 17 weeks I have been his mommy. He may not physically be here with me, but he will always be in my heart. For the past 17 weeks and for every week I have left in my life.

I love you Benjamin.

The true list

I came across this list on a message board I go on. It left me a sobbing mess but hit home with how true it is.

1. I wish you would not be afraid to mention my babies. The truth is just because you never saw my babies doesn't mean they don't deserve your recognition.

2. I wish that if we did talk about my babies and I cried you didn't think it was because you have hurt me by mentioning my babies. The truth is I need to cry and talk about my babies with you. Crying and emotional outbursts help me heal.

3. I wish that you could talk about my babies more than once. The truth is if you do, it reassures me that you haven't forgotten and that you do care and understand.

4. I wish you wouldn't think that I don't want to talk about my babies. The truth is I love my babies and need to talk about them.

5. I wish you could tell me you are sorry my babies died and that you are thinking of me. The truth is that it tells me you care.

6. I wish you wouldn't think what has happened is one big bad memory for me. The truth is the memory of my babies, the love I feel for my babies, the dreams I had and the memories I have created for my babies are all loving memories. Yes there are bad memories too but please understand that it's not all like that.

7. I wish you wouldn't pretend that my babies never existed. The truth is we both know I had babies growing inside me.

8. I wish you wouldn't judge me because I am not acting the way you think I should be. The truth is grief is a very personal thing and we are all different people who deal with things differently.

9. I wish you wouldn't think if I have a good day I'm "over it" or if I have a bad day I am being unreasonable because you think I should be over it. The truth is there is no "normal" way for me to act.

10. I wish you wouldn't stay away from me. The truth is losing my babies doesn't mean I'm contagious. By staying away you make me feel isolated, confused and like it is my fault.

11. I wish you wouldn't expect my grief to be "over and done with" in a few weeks, months, or years for that matter. The truth is it may get easier with time but I will never be "over" this.

12. I wish you wouldn't think that my babies weren't really babies and they were blood and tissue or a fetus. The truth is my babies were human lives. My babies had a soul, heart, body, legs, arms and a face. I have seen my babies' body and face. My babies were real people - and they were alive.

13. My babies due date, Mothers Day, celebration times, the day my babies were born and the days I lost my babies are all important and sad days for me. The truth is I wish you could tell me by words or by letter you are thinking of me on these days.

14. I wish you understood that losing my babies has changed me. The truth is I am not the same person I was before and will never be that person again. If you keep waiting for me to get back to "normal" you will stay frustrated. I am a new person with new thoughts, dreams, beliefs, and values. Please try to get to know the real me-maybe you'll still like me.

15. I wish you wouldn't tell me I could have another baby. The truth is I want the babies I lost and no other baby can replace them. Babies aren't interchangeable. Besides, you do not know whether we have fertility problems too.

16. I wish you wouldn't feel awkward or uncomfortable talking about my babies or being near me. When you do, I can see it. The truth is it's not fair to make me feel uncomfortable just because you are.

17. I wish you wouldn't think that you'll keep away because all my friends and family will be there for me. The truth is, everyone thinks the same thing and I am often left with no one.

18. I wish you would understand that being around pregnant women is uncomfortable for me. The truth is I feel jealous.

19. I wish you wouldn't say that it's natures way of telling me something was wrong with my babies. The truth is my babies were perfect to me no matter what you think nature is saying.

20. I wish you would understand what you are really saying when you say "next time things will be okay". The truth is how do you know? What will you say if it happens to me again?

Going Home

So after The Pretty Nurse left the room with Benjamin I stood there glued to the spot for a moment. I felt okay with her taking him. I didn't have any desire to cling to her leg and cry for her not to take him. I was okay. I had said all I wanted to say, done all I could do. I was still heartbroken, of course, but I knew this was the way it had to be. I knew I should get my room packed up, have a shower, and leave the hospital. Go home to Jackson. Part of me felt like I *should* get back in bed and cry for a while. Like I should still be mourning out loud. But I couldn't. I didn't feel I needed to. I would find in the coming days I experienced this a lot. This feeling that I *should* be feeling a certain way, but actually not feeling that way. It was as if I had read all about the 'proper' grieving timeline and I wasn't following it. It made me feel like I wasn't mourning my baby the right way, or not enough. But I can't, and shouldn't, force myself to cry if I didn't feel the need. There would be plenty of times that I would feel the need.

So I had a shower. As I stood in the cramped hospital shower I let the water pelt my face and wondered why I wasn't crying. Why did my heart not physically ache as much? Why were the tears not flowing? Why was I not doing the gut wrenching sobs? Was there something wrong with me? Did I not love him enough? Did I not miss him enough? Had I not wanted him enough? Deep down I knew this was stupid. I knew how much I loved, wanted and missed him. I knew that it was okay to have moments of okay, even moments of happiness. But it still bothered me. I always imagined that I would never get over the loss of a child; never be able to function normally again. And here I was, moments from handing my baby over to a nurse, never to see him again. And I was showering. And not crying.

After I got dressed and had my room all packed up Brian and his mom came back to get me. During my hospital stay we had received three bouquets of flowers. We had to carry these out of the hospital. The flowers were all beautiful arrangements. Colourful and large. Needless to say, we got compliments on them in the elevator and the hallway. People would comment on them in a happy tone; as if we had received them for a joyous occasion. It pissed me off. I had appreciated getting the flowers, don't get me wrong. But to carry these beautiful flowers out of the hospital instead of my baby; to get comments on how gorgeous the flowers were, instead of how gorgeous my baby was. This is what pissed me off. These well-meaning strangers had no idea of the hell I was in at that moment; had no idea what their comments were doing to me. I just had to get out of there. I was dreading leaving the hospital without Benjamin and this was not helping. I practically ran out of the elevator and out the front door. I could not get into the privacy of our car fast enough.

As I sat in the car, with a bouquet of white and green gerbera daisies on my lap, I cried. I did not want to be leaving the hospital without my baby. I remembered back to May 2007 when we left the hospital with Jackson for the first time. I remembered the joy and utter panic. I couldn't believe they were actually letting us take this baby home. That we were now solely responsible for him. Didn't they understand that we had no clue what we were doing? As we drove home that day so long ago we looked forward to the future. Our new life with our little boy.

This drive home was so much different. Brian and his mom sat in the front; me in the back. I cried the entire way home. It wasn't the gut-wrenching sobs or the painful lump in the throat kind of cry. It was the constant tears streaming down my face kind. Where it was just happening. My heart ached. Physically ached. I couldn't believe this was happening. I had imagined it so many times in the last few months. The drive home with my baby for the first time. Taking him home to our new life. This was not the scenario I had imagined. And it sucked.

Just a few days ago Brian's mom told me that on this drive home she saw a deer standing on the side of the road. There are a lot of deer around here but we are always in awe when we see them. It seems so surreal to just see them on the side of the road, we are used to Ontario where you only see them way out in the country, not on the side of a main road. Barbara said that neither Brian nor I saw it, and she didn't want to point it out. It was a big Buck and was just standing there proudly on the side of the road. I don't know what to do with this information. For some reason it feels important to me, in a symbolic sort of way. Usually I do not read into stuff like this, meaning like that is usually lost on me. Maybe that's why I don't know what to do with this information. It made me smile when she told me tho.

When we got back to our house my parents were there with Jackson. Jackson was very happy to see us and let me snuggle with him for a few minutes. I needed that. The first day home was so hard. I just kept looking beside my bed and thinking that the bassinet should be there. I was glad that we hadn't put the nursery together and hadn't pulled the bassinet out of storage. It was easier to deal with being home without all those physical reminders staring me in the face.

In the book I read, 'An Exact Figment of my Imagination', the author (Elizabeth McCracken) says "After most deaths, I imagine, the awfulness lies in how everything's changed: you no longer recognize the form of your days. There's a hole. It's person-shaped and it follows you everywhere, to bed, to the dinner table, in the car. For us what was killing was how nothing had changed. We'd been waiting to be transformed, and now here we were, back in our old life." This sums it up perfectly. When I read this it gave how I felt words, gave it meaning. That was exactly what the problem was. Here we were, back in our old life. Nothing had changed. We still were the parents of an amazing little boy, but only one amazing little boy. I had been pregnant and now I wasn't but all around us life was going on just as it was. There was no nursery to set up or put away. That room was still just Jackson's playroom. There was no extra laundry, no sleepless nights, no baby cries to be heard throughout the house. Everything was the same. There was no transformation from a family of 3 to a family of 4. And that hurt.

Over the next few days we came to terms with it. For the first couple days I had weird physical symptoms of grief. My chest hurt. I felt like there was always a weight on my chest, like I couldn't get a deep enough breath. My heart hurt too. It's weird how your heart can physically hurt from such a loss. I'd always thought that was just an expression, someone trying to make more out of a situation, be dramatic with their words. But it's true. My heart ached. It would stop me dead in my tracks on occasion. One day Brian, Barbara and I were talking about making quilts. She was asking if I would make her a queen size quilt for her bed. I told her that I only make lap quilts. Brian quipped in 'or baby quilts'. I started bawling. Such a random conversation and yet it caused immediate grief to me. (and yes, Brian felt horrible for his comment, even though it was completely innocent, lol).

Over the next week Barbara went home, then my mom went home, then my dad went home. The flowers stopped being delivered. The emails stopped coming. The phone calls slowed down. People were getting on with their lives. Still thinking about us, I'm sure, but they were continuing on with their normal day-to-day activities. We were happy for that. We are not the type of people that like being in the spotlight, the constant 'how are you doing?' and the constant attention was starting to make us uncomfortable. We appreciated it immensely, but we were ready to try to figure out our new life. We felt we had to.

These days we talk about Benjamin a bit less. Not because we don't think about him or because we are trying to 'forget' him. Just because we have to. What else is there to say about him? We love him, we miss him, we wish this had never happened, but there is nothing new to say. We've said all of that a million times. It's not going to change. I went looking for a photo album the other day for all of his photos. That was surprisingly hard. We have about 70 photos of him; ones Heather took, ones we took, my pregnancy photo, the ultrasound pictures. As I stood in the album aisle of the store I had to fight back the tears. I wanted an album that I could put every single picture in, whether the photo was a good one or not. I wanted every picture we had of him treasured. Some of the albums were too small. They would only hold 30 photos. Then other ones were too big, they were meant for many more photos than we had. I did not want blank pages in my album of Benjamin. There would never be new photos. I could never add to the album. This made me so sad. His entire existence was going to be in this album and most of them were too long. His life was just too short.

Jackson looks at Benjamin's photos all the time. I have a little collage of them by my computer. Jackson will come up to it and point at the photo and say 'baby'. I am teaching him to say 'Ben'. We do not, and probably will not, call him Ben. But 'Benjamin' is too hard and too long for Jackson to be able to say. So he can call his little brother Ben. He is the only one tho. That is his special name for his baby brother. His sweet little baby brother that he will never get to meet. At least not in the physical. Benjamin will always live on in his heart tho. He will know the story of Benjamin. He will know he has a sweet baby brother. And he will know of the love. You cannot know any of the story of Benjamin without knowing of the love. Because that is the most important part.

And I do love you, Benjamin. More than you could have ever known. It's not fair and it sucks. What I would give to have you in my arms right now. But that's not the way it is and I have come to terms with that. For the most part.

The purpose of this blog

I have been thinking a lot lately about why I am doing this blog. What I hope to achieve through writing it. Why I am sharing Benjamin's story in this way. A lot of people keep telling me that they are touched that I am sharing such a personal part of my life. That I am sharing so many private details. Sometimes I wonder if I am sharing too much.

I want people to know that stillbirth does happen. To anyone. It's not fair and it hurts like hell, but it does happen. I want people to have a better understanding of the experience; of the pain and heartache. But also of the love and happiness. It's so weird. Benjamin died. I never got a chance to properly meet him; to see him smile, hear him call me mama. And that makes me so sad sometimes that I just want to curl up and cry for hours. But I still got to have him in my life. And that? That makes me so happy. I got to have another son. A son that, as my dad put it, will always be my sweet baby boy. I will never see him grow up, but he will always be a beautiful perfect little baby. My little baby. And for that I am happy.

When I first decided to post the story of Benjamin, in it's entirety with photos and all, I discussed it with Brian. I would not have done it if he had not been okay with it. It's not just my personal private story. It is his too. Benjamin was his son too, and he hurts from this enormous loss too. It would not have been fair to me to share all of this without his consent. At first he had a hard time with it. He felt it was too personal, or too morbid, or something. He's not so good at putting this into words, lol. He was very uncomfortable with sharing photos of Benjamin. I think he felt that people would only see photos of a dead baby, not of our son. I understood his concerns, but to me I wanted people to get to know our son; and I felt doing this would accomplish that. If Benjamin had been born alive this entire blog would have been filled with photos of him, of him with Jackson, of stories of his birth, stories of his first smile, his first steps, his first laugh, his first everything. It made me sad to think that we wouldn't share anything of him. I explained all of this to Brian and he agreed. He is okay with me posting all the story. I'm not sure if he reads it when I update it, and I'm okay with that. He knows the story well.

Stillbirth is a strange thing. It's like some secret society. Before I had Benjamin I never really heard about women having stillborn babies. It wasn't something that was talked about. Since I have gone through it I have found that nearly everyone I talk has either had a stillbirth or has someone close to them that has. The nurse at the hospital, the woman at the engraving kiosk in the mall that made Benjamin's ornament for me, relatives, close friends of mine, my neighbour, the local librarian. It's like they just come out of the woodwork. Why are these women not talking about it? I know that a lot of people cannot talk about their experiences; it's too painful for them. I'm not sure why I am able to talk about it so freely, but I am glad that I can. I am glad to be able to share my story. I hope that it sheds some light on the topic. Allows people who have never had a stillbirth to, in some small way, experience the heartache and happiness involved. I hope it increases awareness and increases compassion for this type of birth. If it moves anyone reading my story to help other women going through this then it makes me very happy to share my pain.

I have this dream of publishing my story. Writing a memoir. After Benjamin was born a friend of mine sent me a link to an excerpt from a memoir written by a lady who had a stillborn son. I read the excerpt days after I got home from the hospital. It was amazing. It was like this woman was writing my thoughts. She was telling her story in such a way that you could feel the love and the happiness. Sure, you could definitely feel the heartache and the despair, but it wasn't all about that. I have skimmed other books on stillbirth and they are all about the mourning and the pain and sadness. They rarely talk about the consuming love and joy in having your child; getting to still have him in your life. I went out a few days later and bought the book. I read the entire thing in a weekend. It was a fantastic book and I definitely recommend it to anyone, whether you have had a stillbirth or not. Here is a link to her book info http://www.elizabethmccracken.com/ Recently I emailed her to tell her how much I appreciated her book. She actually emailed me back today and is a very sweet lady.

I'm not sure if I would ever pursue publishing my story. I don't even have a clue how to go about doing that. I just know that I want other women who have gone through this experience to know that they are not alone. That there can be joy again after your world comes crashing down. I want them to know my story and know that, even though the experience was by far the worst of my life, it was also a joyous occasion. My son was born and I got to hold him and kiss him and see him.

There are so many things I want to do from this experience. So many thoughts and plans and dreams. I know I won't accomplish all of them, and even if I only do one or two of them at least I have made a difference in the lives of other moms who are hurting. I have donated a cd player/radio to the room I was in. I hope that it helps to block out the noise of the fetal heart monitors in the neighbouring room. I have donated boxes of tissues to that room since the hospital issued ones are inadequate (to say the least). I have donated notebooks for the moms to write their thoughts. A pad of lined paper and pens so they can write a letter to their babies.

So anyways, that's why I have posted Benjamin's story. That's why I am sharing so much personal information. I want people to know. Know the story of Benjamin. Know the experience of a stillborn. I want to help other women that have gone through this, or are going through this. I want to break out of the secret society. I don't want there to be such shame, such silence about these beautiful babies. Our sons and daughters deserve to have their lives known and celebrated. It's unfair that they didn't get to be born alive, and it's unfair that people don't hear of their short lives. I am able to share the story of my son's life, as I know many other people are unable to do. I hope, in some way, it helps to make their child's life known too.

The days following his birth

I was allowed to stay at the hospital for as long as I felt I needed to. I'm sure at some point they would have kicked me out, but I decided that I wanted to stay until my milk came in. I knew that was going to be a very hard day for me. I breast fed Jackson until he was 9 months old. I had wanted to continue until he was 12 months (at least) but he went on a nursing strike at 9 months and I got bad advice from my doctor. By the time I realized that it was just a nursing strike, not self-weaning my milk had dried up. I did everything I could to get my milk supply back up but once it was Jackson refused to nurse. He had discovered how great the bottle was, he got to be lazy about eating and was not going back to the boob, lol! So breastfeeding for me had been such an important thing for me and during my whole pregnancy with Benjamin I was really looking forward to nursing again. So I knew that when my body produced milk it would be very emotionally painful to me. Here was my body finally producing milk again, without medications, without constant pumping, and I had no use for it. No baby to nurse. Plus when the milk comes in, so do the postpartum hormones. So I was staying in the hospital until my milk came in. I wanted to be able to be there and stay in bed crying if I felt I needed that. I didn't want to be home where I had to get out of bed, where I had to be a functioning mommy to Jackson.

I was also dreading the moment that I had to say my final goodbye to Benjamin. I didn't know how I was going to do that. How do you hold your baby for the last time, knowing you will never see his body again. Never feel the weight of his body. Never get to kiss his forehead again. Never get to feel his skin against yours. How do you do that? If someone had been able to tell me how to prepare for that and how to accept that reality I would have been very appreciative. Unfortunately no one can prepare you for that. We had Benjamin brought to our room a few times on Tuesday and Wednesday. Brian felt that he had already said his goodbyes to Benjamin and as he put it, they 'were good'. He told him everything he wanted to and felt at peace with it. I did not. I could not bear the thought of watching a nurse take him out of the room for the last time. I thought it would break me. That I would be clinging to that nurses leg wailing and sobbing at her not to do it; not to take my baby away from me.

Thursday morning came. I had decided Wednesday night that I had to go home on Thursday. I was just delaying the inevitable. I could not stay in the hospital forever. Being there was not going to change the fact that I still had to go home and resume some form of a normal life. I still had an amazing toddler at home that needed his mommy. I still had a life outside the hospital. I remember saying so many times to Brian "I don't like this new reality; this new life". It's true. I wanted so badly to go back to my previous happy pregnant self. I didn't want to be the mom of a dead baby. The horror story that pregnant women fear. The woman that people pity and are scared to talk to for fear that somehow my 'affliction' will rub off on them. My baby was dead and I hated that fact more than I have ever hated anything. I just wanted my old life back.

Brian's mom flew in on Thursday. He went to the airport to get her and while he did I wrote a letter to Benjamin. I wanted to remember all the details of my pregnancy with him. All the details of his birth and the following days. I wanted to remember exactly how I was feeling, the pain, the love, everything. I wrote 6 pages. But still it didn't feel like enough.

Once Brian and his mom came back we asked the nurses to bring Benjamin back. This was going to be the last time we saw him. I was scared of how he would look. The last time we had seen him (Wednesday afternoon) he was starting to deteriorate a lot. He was starting to look like a little old man, all wrinkly and puckered. It was not how he should look. And he was starting to smell. That broke my heart. I was scared that Barbara (Brian's mom) would be horrified by him. I knew, deep down, that she wouldn't be; he was her grandson after all. But I was just worried that she wouldn't be able to see the beauty that he was. When he was brought into the room the nurse handed him to me and I held my sweet boy. Then I handed him to Barbara. She held him and cried. I was so thankful that both of Benjamin's grandmas got to hold him and his little body got to feel the love and warmth of their hearts. I can't say more about that, it just brings me to tears.

Before Benjamin had been brought in we had been talking about how I wanted to donate my breastmilk to a milk bank. I had been debating this idea for the last few days and decided that I did want to do it. I hated the thought that my body would produce milk and I would just let it dry up. If my baby couldn't have my milk I wanted some other baby that needed it to benefit from it. It was something good that could come out of this nightmare. There is a milk bank in Vancouver and I had already found a brochure about it in the maternity ward. Brian's mom offered to buy us a breast pump, which was amazingly generous and very appreciated.

After Barbara said her goodbye to Benjamin Brian held him again and said his goodbye. Then he placed him back in my arms. The two of them left to go and pick up the breastpump. This was it. This was the last time I would hold Benjamin. I wrote this a few days after I got home from the hospital. Some of it I have already typed again here, but I cannot type it all again, so I'm just posting it here.

Saying Goodbye

The day I had been dreading was finally here. The last time I would see and hold my sweet baby Benjamin. I was terrified. I was so scared I wouldn’t be able to let him go, that it would just be too hard, too painful. That it would just hurt too much.

Barbara had just arrived a little while before we were to see Benjamin again. We wanted her to be able to hold him and meet him. I was worried that his little body would have deteriorated a lot since the last time we saw him. I was worried that he wouldn’t look like himself at all, that it would be hard to look at him. That it would be hard for Barbara to see how perfect and beautiful he actually was.

The nurse brought him into the room. She had reswaddled him and I was so thankful for that. She was one of the best nurses on the floor and when I thanked her for redoing his blankets she was so matter-of-fact about it. Simply said ‘of course I did’. The last time we had seen him he was sinking really far into his blankets and was looking so small and was getting hard to see. Now he looked proud and big again, the way he should look.

My fears about how he looked were somewhat confirmed. His face was a lot more drawn in and wrinkly. He looked like a little old man, not the beautiful baby he was. But he was still Benjamin. He still had the adorable little nose, beautiful lips, dark hair, and creased little eyes. I didn’t care how he looked, how he smelled. I got to hold him again, and just feeling his weight in my arms and getting to pat his bum and rub his back and touch his face and hair… That’s what I needed, that’s what was important.

Barbara held him for a little while, she cried, she said it wasn’t fair. That’s all anyone can say. That it’s not fair. It isn’t fair. He should not have died. It should not have happened. I am having a hard time accepting that it did happen. That it’s not fair but it’s how it is. My sweet baby is dead and it sucks, but I got to know him for 36 weeks and I got to hold him many times after he was born and no one can take that from me.

After Barbara said her goodbye Brian held him for a while. He felt he had already said goodbye, had already said all he needed to say. He handed Benjamin back to me and he and his mom left the room so I could say and do all I needed to do.

It was hard, God it was so hard. There was so much I wanted to tell him, so much I wanted to share with him. This was going to be my only chance to tell him everything face to face. I already had gotten into the habit of talking to his picture every morning and randomly through the day just talking to him, but this was the last time I could gaze at his beautiful face and talk to him.

As I sat on the bed cradling my sweet Benjamin I told him how much I loved him, how much this was not fair, how much he was loved by everyone, how many people he had touched and how many people were saddened by his death. I told him how great a life he would have had, how I hoped that the short life he did have was good. How I hoped he had felt nothing but love and security. I sat and just looked at him and patted his bum and rubbed his back. I did forehead-nose-chinny chin chin on him. This was something that we have done with Jackson since he was born and I always imagined doing it on Benjamin, and watching Jackson do it on him too.

Then I sang him our bedtime songs. I sang him ‘Douglas Mountain’ and ‘Mr.Moon’. I kept messing up the lyrics because I was so caught up in watching him, but he already knows the lyrics. He listened to me singing them for 36 weeks already as I rocked Jackson to sleep every night. Then I sang him ‘Boom Boom Ain’t it Great to be Benjamin’. That song was the one song that would calm and relax Jackson when he was a baby. No matter what was going on it made everything better for Jackson. I hope it had the same effect on Benjamin. I hope that if he was somehow there with me in that horrible hospital room that he could hear that song and feel safe and loved.

I wanted nothing more than to lay down with him beside me in my arms and snuggle with him. Those were the best times when Jackson was a baby. While Benjamin and I laid there I told him all about his brother and all about his daddy. I told him what a great big brother Jackson would have been to him, how he would have taught him so much and how Benjamin would have looked up to him. I told him how much Jackson would have loved him and how much he would have loved Jackson. I told him what a fantastic dad his Daddy was, how much he loved him and how badly he wanted him. I told him he would have had a great life, full of love. I told him that even though he had not had a chance to live outside of me that he has forever changed our lives. That his dad and I were arguing a lot lately but he has brought us closer, he has made us stronger, and we are so thankful for that. He has helped this family and brought us back to how we should be. He will always be such an important part of this family.

I told him that his Daddy and I will go on to have more children when we are ready. That this in no way means we are replacing him; that we could never replace him. He will always be my second born son, my sweet baby boy. All of our children will know about him, they will know they have another brother who is not with us. They will know his name, they will see his pictures, they will feel the love we have for him.

I showed him outside, held him in the sunlight for a few moments. I wanted him to feel the warmth, I wanted to see him in the sunlight. I showed him the flowers we had received. I wanted to show him the beauty that there was in the world. I wanted him to see and feel nature.

I held him for a few more minutes and told him how much I loved him, how much I would always love him, how special and important he was to me. How much I would miss him but that I would eventually not cry as much or be as sad but that did not mean I didn’t love him anymore or miss him any less, it just meant that I was coming to peace with the unfairness of it all. I would always think of him and always have a huge place in my heart for my sweet baby Benjamin.

I felt ready. I buzzed for the nurse. The pretty nurse came in to get him. She was the youngest nurse there and one of the most compassionate ones. I was able to joke around her and cry around her and she would adjust to however I was feeling. She was a great nurse, I was glad it was her I was handing him over to for the last time. She came over and stood beside me for a few moments, just rubbing my back and told me he was beautiful. I talked to him a little bit more and told him I loved him so much. Then I kissed his forehead and told her I was ready. She asked me if I was sure and I was. I knew I had to say goodbye at some point and I knew I had said everything I had wanted to say. I felt a sense of peace and comfort with him. I knew I didn’t want to see his little body deteriorate any more. I knew it was time. I placed him in her arms and kissed his forehead one last time and tucked the blankets all around him. She gave me a little hug and took him out of the room.

It was hard, but not as hard as I thought it would be. I felt good about it. I felt it was the perfect goodbye to my sweet Benjamin.

And that's all for today's post. I think that's enough for today. I don't know about you, but now I'm a sobbing mess.

The delivery room

After we had spent quite a bit of time holding Benjamin Susan came back into the room and got us ready to go back to our room on the Ante Partum wing. She helped me get into the wheelchair and get all of the stuff we had brought into the room for the delivery, which was not much. We were expected to leave Benjamin in the room while we made the move and a nurse would bring him to our room after. Brian would have nothing to do with this. I was still a little out of it, so I wasn't really sure what was going on. Brian decided to stay in the room with Benjamin. There was no way he was going to leave our baby in the room all alone, it didn't matter that he wasn't alive, that was just not right! So Brian stayed with him while I went back to our room. Later he told me that during this alone time with Benjamin he talked to him and told him everything he wanted to say, he showed him outside and what little sunlight there was on the dark rainy day. He kissed his forehead and said his goodbyes. This makes me cry. I can only imagine the heartache he felt alone in the room with Benjamin. I can also imagine the heartstopping love he felt for him in those few moments. I am very grateful that he had that time alone with him. Glad for both of them.

Again, I don't remember much of the time frame here. I was so sad, so hormonal, so heartbroken. But also filled with so much love and adoration for our new baby boy. I wished SO badly that I could turn back time, I still do. To just go back one week, only one week. Why couldn't that happen. Why could I not just go back to the moment his heart stopped and somehow fix it. Why couldn't I save my baby boy. Why did this have to happen. I think part of me might have been holding out some hope for the news to be wrong. That he would be born
and the shock of it would start his heart again. Or that the ultrasound was just wrong. That it just didn't pick up the heartbeat for some odd reason. That our baby was NOT dead. That he was just being a stubborn kid, like his older brother. I don't think I really believed that he would be alive, but of course I had that slight deep doubt. I think every mother would. You do not want to believe that this baby that you have carried for 8 months, that you have loved and wanted so badly, could be dead. That you wouldn't know. I mean, he was growing inside of me, he was part of me. How could I not know that his little heart had stopped. It just wasn't right.

I'm not going to get into the time frame stuff. Instead I am going to share with you how the hospital deals with stillbirths. ('Deal with' sounds horrible, clinical maybe. But it's the easiest way to say it. And I'm going to say 'the baby' instead of Benjamin, it's too painful a visual any other way). After the baby is born and the family gets some time to spend with him, the hospital staff takes the baby and wraps him in blankets. He is then placed in a fridge behind the nurses station. This way the baby's body will stay in a good condition. This is done because the family is able to see the baby any time they want for the next three days. When I first heard this I was slightly horrified. I thought it was morbid. Why would I want to have my baby back days later? Wouldn't he be cold and deteriorating? Wouldn't he start to smell? Why would I want that memory. Plus I couldn't get the thought of his body being in a fridge. I imagined him laying next to someone's balogna sandwich or something. It was just a horrible thought. Not something I wanted for my baby.

But when it happened? The comfort I felt knowing I didn't have to say goodbye to him right away? Knowing I got to see him any time I wanted, day or night, for the next three days? It was right. It felt right. It gave me a little bit of peace.

The nurses on that floor were wonderful. I could not imagine the experience without them. They were all so loving, so compassionate, so understanding. One of the nurses, Mary, was on shift almost every day that I was there. She was wonderful. One of the first nights I was there she came into my room and I just started crying to her. Telling her it wasn't fair, and I didn't know how to get through this. That I couldn't imagine giving birth to my dead baby and then continuing on with my life. How do I go back to any form of normal after that? She told me about her niece that had a stillbirth, how she made it through it all. Mary is a religious woman, something I am not, and she told me that she would pray for me every night. She sat in my room and talked to me for quite a long time, until another nurse came and found her. She gave me a hug every time she saw I was upset. After Benjamin was born she came back on shift that night. When I saw her in the hall I asked her if she had seen my baby yet. She told me she hadn't had a chance yet, but she would as soon as she could. Then later when I saw her she told me she had seen him and he was absolutely beautiful. Which he was.

Another nurse on the floor, we never could remember her name so we just called her 'the pretty one', also stands out in my mind a lot. And not just because she was so pretty! She was young, probably around my age, and she talked to me like a friend. After Benjamin was born I wanted to write him a letter but had no paper. I went to the nurses station and asked for some paper. One of the nurses handed me some scrap paper. I started crying and said I wanted to write a letter to my son. The Pretty One told me she would bring me some computer paper to my room. When she brought it in she was so kind about it, asking me if I had enough, if I needed anything else, if I wanted to talk. She had such a kind, sweet voice and just exuded warmth and compassion. Everything a nurse on that floor should be.

That afternoon we had a photographer from Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep come to the hospital. This is an organization made up of volunteer photographers. They come and take photos for families who have lost a baby. Our photographer, Heather, came around 3pm and we had the nurses bring Benjamin back to our room. This was the first time I had seen him again since we first had him taken away. It took a while for the nurses to bring him into us, but when they did he was wrapped up in a few new blankets that were donated for this situation. One was a beautiful small crocheted white blanket. It was quite small and just behind his head. The other one was a light blue soft blanket with satiny edges and satiny appliqued wings on it. I still don't know who donated these, but they were both beautiful. I was glad to see that he wasn't just in the standard blue hospital baby blankets.

Another wonderful nurse brought him in. This part makes me weep again. She brought him in and laid him on our bed. I had asked them to put him in a standard white hospital gown. The ones our hospital has are stiff white cotton and I just loved them on Jackson, they weren't overly nice and they weren't anything special, but they were what newborns should be in, so I wanted Benjamin in one too. She told me that they had looked for a gown to put him in but they were all too big (I'm not sure why that is, since he was 6 pounds 3 ounces). But they had found another gown. A lacy one. But it was purple. She was disappointed with this too. Then I mentioned that Susan had brought us a gown to dress him in. It was the same exact gown, only blue. So I asked the nurse to change him into that gown. I wish I had been able to do it myself, but I was so scared that moving him that much would 'compromise' his body and I would be horrified. I am so glad I asked her to. She was wonderful. As she rolled him over to untie the purple gown she talked to him. Like he was a living little person. She told him what she was going to do and spoke so softly and lovingly to him. She was very gentle with him and it amazed me. When she finished changing him I thanked her. I thanked her for being so gentle with him and for talking to him. Her response was 'of course I would, he's a person'. I have a photo of this nurse. The photographer caught her in one picture and she is comforting me. It is one of my favorite photos. It captures the wonderful care I got from all the nurses during my stay.

Heather (the photographer) had asked us if there was anything we specifically wanted her to take photos of, or anything we didn't want. I told her to just take pictures, anything she wanted. I had no clue what I wanted. I also had no shame at this point. I didn't care what I looked like, I didn't care if I looked horrid from crying. I just wanted photos of my son. Whatever else was showing in the photo I was fine with. She explained that she would take photos and then she would touch them all up to remove the bruising, the peeling, anything like that. Then I would get them all on cd a few weeks later. As she was taking photos I asked her to take one with our camera. I wanted a good photo of him to tide me over until we got hers in the mail.

She took tons of photos. She took ones of me holding him, ones of Brian holding him, ones of Benjamin alone, ones of his feet, his hands, his head. Everything. We barely even noticed her there. I was so caught up in just looking at him, holding him, kissing his forehead. Memorizing every feature about him.

My parents had arrived shortly before Heather got there. They had brought Jackson with him. They were out in the hall during the photo session, entertaining Jackson. We had decided that we didn't want Jackson to see Benjamin. This decision is one I question often. It breaks my heart that my boys never met. That Jackson will only ever know Benjamin through photographs, that he has never actually seen him. But at the same time, he is too young. He would not understand what was happening anyway. I just don't know how to feel about it.

Brian went out into the hallway to get my mom. My parents had not seen Benjamin yet, he had not been brought into the room yet when they got there. My mom came in and I handed Benjamin to her. Watching her hold him and cry hurt. It was so upsetting to see how upset she was that she would never see her second grandson alive, that this was the only time she would ever get to hold him. I don't know why that hurt so much, but my heart just ached for her. Here I am, just having given birth to my stillborn son, and I was hurting for my mom. I cannot imagine the pain she was in for me. As a mother herself, it must have been horrible. I am glad Heather got some photos of my mom holding Benjamin.

After a few minutes my dad came into the room. My mom gave Benjamin to him and he held him for a while. I cannot remember if my dad cried. I imagine he did, but I don't want to remember that. I don't want to imagine my dad holding my son and crying. It's just too much. We don't have photos of that since Heather had already put her camera away (she had started putting it away before my mom came in but I asked her to take some photos of my mom so she pulled it back out). I don't know how long Heather was taking photos. I lost all track of time. I know it was a long time tho and I am so thankful that she spent extra time with us.

We decided to have a nurse come then and take Benjamin away again. This is the only way I can say it. It sounds horrible to say 'take him away'. But it's better than the alternatives. I didn't want him to go, but at the same time I was worried about having him in our room too long.

After everyone else had left I was alone in the room with Heather (I think it was just the two of us anyways). I told her that Susan had mentioned she had lost a child too. I asked her if it gets easier. We talked for a while and she was so sweet. And so honest. She didn't give me the bullshit answers of 'it will get easier' or 'the pain lessens after time' 'time heals all wounds' and all that. She told me that it will always hurt, but you find a way to deal with it. Since that day we have become email friends and I hope to be friends with her in real life too. She has been a wonderful support to me.

I am going to end this post now with her wonderful photos. If you don't think you can look at them then do not scroll down. They are raw photos. They are real photos. They are some of the most personal photos I have. But they are my son and they show the love we have for him. And the pain we were in. Keep in mind as you look at them, that even tho they show such intense heartache we also feel intense love. Love for our sweet baby Benjamin. Love that will never fade. The heartache has lessened into a dull ache but the love has taken it's place.

This photo is one of the most raw photos I have ever seen. Even though it shows the pain I am in so intensely, it is one of my favorite photos. Looking at this photo brings me right back to that moment. I can almost feel his weight in my arms, imagine his face so clearly, imagine the feelings that were consuming me at that moment. So although it is a hard photo to look at, it is also one of the most treasured ones to me.

The photos of his feet do me in. Every time I look at them I get a little teary. His feet were so perfect, perfect little toes.

The Induction

So we went to sleep Sunday night wondering when labour would start. The nurses had given me two sleeping pills to make sure I got a good nights sleep and was ready for whatever the next day brought. The pills worked their magic and I was able to sleep pretty soundly until I woke up in the morning to the sound of my neighbour's baby's heartbeat echoing through the room. Not a good way to wake up.

I don't remember a lot of the day. I'm not sure if it's because it was over a month ago now, or if it's because I have blocked a lot of it out to protect myself. Whatever the reason all I know is that Monday was a long difficult day.

At 9am Susan came back to check on me and the induction was starting to work a bit. She decided to put in another Cervidil at that point. I was starting to dilate (only a fingertip dilated tho). She felt this should get things moving a bit more quickly.

My parents came by a while later and I was still only slightly crampy and not really in labour. Tania came back with Jackson in the late morning and visited for a little while. It was great to see Jackson again. I had missed him and needed to see his smiley happy little face. He had had a blast at Tania's house playing with Kai and even learned new tricks (how to jump!).

Brian and my dad had to go out to work for a little while so my mom and Jackson stayed to keep me company. We went for a walk outside for a bit. I couldn't walk too much because the cramping was starting to get a little more painful and it was tiring me out. Once we got back to my room Jackson was in desperate need for a nap so my mom walked him around a bit and we turned a music station on the tv. It was country, which seemed like a good idea at the time. Jackson ended up falling asleep in my mom's arms (I don't know how she does it!) so she laid him down in bed with me and we all ended up having a bit of a nap. It was fantastic to snuggle with Jackson. Definitely something I needed. The only problem was the music! How come all country music is about people dying and sadness!?! It didn't help that the station was having some Rememberance Day tribute to soldiers. And the tv was out of my reach so I couldn't change the station, so instead I laid in bed with snot and tears dripping into Jackson's hair. But don't we look cozy?

After Jackson and my parents left for the day Brian and I settled in for the evening. I was still cramping, but not thinking things were really moving along all that well. The cramping was more constant and I was getting more uncomfortable, but nothing to tell me I would be giving birth any time soon. We ate dinner and then started watching tv.

At 8pm I was on the phone talking to one of my friends and started getting even more uncomfortable. By the time I got off the phone around 8:30 I mentioned to Brian that I thought I might be really going into labour.

This is where I completely lose track of time.

We decided to go for a walk to see if we could speed things up. It worked and the contractions started getting quite a bit more painful. At one point I was standing in the hall just outside our room and got a contraction. I leaned on Brian for this one and one of the nurses came over. She said that she would call Susan and let her know labour was starting. I lost it at this point. I started bawling that I didn't want it to start. I didn't want to give birth to a dead baby. I didn't want my baby to come out, I wanted Daisy to stay in there. It was as if once she was born then it would all be real. It was just too much.

Susan came by and checked me. I was 2 cm dilated. Things were starting. I was able to labour in my room for as long as possible. At one point I was told that I would be staying in my room to give birth too, then they told me I would be moved to labour and delivery for the actual birth. I wasn't sure which option I liked better. I liked the option of staying in my room because I didn't want to go to l&d and hear all the other women giving birth and hearing the baby's first cry and the celebrations that followed. But then I also didn't want to give birth in that room and scare the other poor women that were on bedrest in the next room. Plus I didn't want to have to spend the next few days in the same room that Daisy was born in.

Throughout my entire labour I tried to keep as calm as possible. I kept telling myself to stay calm for Daisy. That Daisy deserved a calm, relaxed birth. There was too much sadness and stress already, labour and the actual birth should not add to that. I told Brian to tell me to stay calm for Daisy any time I started getting worked up. It worked like a charm. I was able to stay quite calm and relaxed for a very long time. At one point (maybe around 4am?) both Brian and I were exhausted so we both got in my tiny hospital bed and tried to get some rest. We ended up falling asleep (oh yeah, I was on morphine at this point). I woke up for each contraction but they had become very mild. This concerned me because I was worried that labour was stalling. Susan came back into the room a while later and I mentioned this to her. She decided to check me again and I was still only 2 cm dilated. Labour was slowing down. We decided that we would go for a walk to try to speed it up again. I walked the hospital halls for a while and then went back to figure out what to do.

Susan gave us the options of: a) letting labour continue on it's own, which could mean it would take a long time if it was slowing down; b) breaking my water, which should speed things up a lot; or c) starting pitocin. I didn't want to start pitocin. I've heard too many horror stories about how painful pitocin labours can be. I didn't want to let labour continue on it's own because I just wanted to give birth! So we decided that she would break my water.

Wow! That worked like a charm. Very shortly after my waters were broken the contractions started getting much more intense. They were painful and I was having a hard time staying calm for Daisy. I still did not want to get an epidural. I was determined to keep this as close to our original plan as possible. Susan brought in the gas (I have no clue what it is) for me to breath in during contractions. I'm not sure if it actually helped with the pain or if it just gave me something else to concentrate on during each contraction.

There was this horrible picture (artwork?) in my room that we had joked about since I was first brought to that room. During labour I was able to focus on the picture and it took my mind off some of the discomfort because we would make fun of how silly the picture is. What in the world does "flower of tulips" mean??

Anyways... We got moved to the l&d ward once labour had progressed a lot. I think they moved me partly for the sake of the other patients on the antepartum ward. It has to be hard to be on hospital bedrest, fearing for the health of your unborn children, and hear a woman going into labour with a baby that has died in the womb. I am glad they moved me for that reason. Plus the room at the end of the l&d ward was free, so I wouldn't be right in the middle of other happy deliveries. I was okay with being moved.

I decided to walk to my new room. I did not want to be wheeled there. I was hoping that walking there would speed things along a little bit more. The last time I was checked I think I was only 4-5 cm.

We got to our new room when it was still dark out, so it must have been before 7am. It was the last room on the labour and delivery ward and it was nice and quiet. I couldn't hear any other woman labouring and definitely couldn't hear anyone celebrating their new arrivals, so I was pleased with this.

I was scared to be in labour and scared to be about to have my baby.

My labour and delivery with Jackson was such a fantastic experience. I am one of those odd women that love giving birth. For the most part I enjoy being pregnant, but I especially love giving birth. With Jackson I only had some morphine, that was all the pain medication I wanted. I wanted to be able to feel him being born, I didn't want to be told when to push; I wanted to just let my body do what it needed to do. I felt in tune with my body more than I have ever felt before. I felt powerful and natural about it all. It was an amazing experience. And when he was born? I cannot even explain how wonderful it was. We had a mirror set up so I could see him coming out (thanks for the words of advice on that, Sarah!). It was amazing to watch him being born, to know that all the pushing, all the pain I'd been feeling was causing that. That all the hard work was paying off and I was going to be holding my precious baby soon. Then when he finally did come out and he was in my arms, it was euphoric. My doctor placed him on my chest, we announced it was a boy, and we were a family. It was the best moment of my life.

I was scared how this experience was going to compare to that. I knew it was going to be so drastically different. I knew it was going to be so intensely sad. I confided to Susan that I was scared that my baby was going to creep me out. That I would be horrified by him because he was dead. That I wouldn't want to hold him, or kiss him, because he wasn't alive. I was worried about what he would look like, what he would feel like (would he be cold?). I was worried that all I'd be able to see when I looked at him was a dead baby. Not my baby, just a dead baby. I didn't want that. I wanted to look at my newborn baby and feel the love and pride that I felt when I looked at Jackson when he was first born. I was just so scared. Susan assured me that I would feel the love, that I wouldn't see a dead baby, I would see my child. She explained that when he was born he would have some bruising (from the birth), his skin may be peeling off in spots (because he had died a few days prior and he'd been in the amniotic fluid for those days), and he may not look like a newborn since he was only 34 weeks and would not have as much fat on him as a newborn would (they believed he was only 34 weeks, not the 36 weeks we now know to be true). We went over what we wanted when the baby was born. We wanted her to clean him up as much as possible, we knew she wouldn't be able to bathe him because his skin would already be peeling. We wanted to hold him right away. Brian wanted to cut the umbilical cord. We wanted her to weigh and measure him and do the footprints. Basically we wanted it to be the same as it would be if he had been born alive.

Once we got to our new room we met our nurse. I don't remember a single thing about her. I know she told me how sorry she was for my loss. I just got used to everyone saying this to me. At this point I'd stopped responding with "It's not fair". Instead I just thanked people. What else do you do in this situation? What else is there to say?

The pain was getting intense quickly. I had already had another morphine shot and was not able to get another one for quite some time. We got the gas working again and that gave me some distraction, but it was still more painful that I remembered from Jackson's birth. I could not find a comfortable position. Every time Susan had me lay back to check me I was blinded by the pain. Labouring on my back was not an option, the only way I could get any relief was to sit up in bed. Finally I started seriously considering an epidural. It was not at all what I wanted but I had never imagined the pain to be this intense. Once it got to the point of telling Susan that I really wanted the epidural she decided to check me again. She lowered the bed again to have me lay back so she could see how far along I was and the pain intensified. I told her that I either needed the epidural or I had to push. She told me that was what she figured; she thought I must be in transition (about to give birth). As she started checking me she was prodding my stomach and I started yelling at her to stop touching me, it was hurting so badly. She checked how far I was dilated and all I heard her say was 'oh, I see a foot'.

During the ultrasound on Sunday Daisy had been head down; and had been for weeks. Apparently at some point between that ultrasound and Tuesday morning the baby had gotten flipped around and was now feet down. And now one of the little feet had started coming out already. As Susan examined me and felt the foot she announced that I could start pushing. This was it.

The pain was incredible. Every contraction hurt like hell. I've heard breech births are more difficult and more painful, but I never really understood until now. I don't know how long I pushed for; I have no clue how long the whole delivery took. I know at one point I was in a lot of pain and was tired and I asked Susan "can't you just pull it out". I regret this statement so much. I hate that I said it. I hate that I referred to my sweet baby as 'it'. I hate that I wanted her to just pull it out, like it was just some thing that I wanted to be out of me. That was not the kind of birth I wanted for Daisy. Not the kind of thing I wanted to say. She deserved so much better than such a crass hurtful statement. I know I was in pain, and the heat of the moment, and all of that, but I am so horrified by the fact that I said that.

The baby was born feet first (Footling Breech) and then the arms were over the head. It was basically the most awkward, painful birth. (I have since learned that Footling Breech births are not that common, especially in full term babies. 10-30% of all breech births are Footling, and only 1-3% of full-term births are Breech births at all.) I had forgotten to mention to Susan that I wanted the mirror set up. I remembered how glad I was that I had that during Jackson's birth and would have liked it this time too. I wish that I had seen his little feet coming out. I think it would have eased the pain a bit too as it would have given me some distraction and some incentive.

At 9:52am our baby was born. Once the baby was completely out both Brian and I looked down (I was already sitting up through the entire delivery) and got to announce "it's a boy!". It was odd. During the entire pregnancy I had been referring to the baby as Daisy. As a girl. But when I looked down and saw my son it just felt right. Just felt like 'of course it's a boy, how could it be anything else?'. Our second son was born. And he was beautiful. I did not see a dead baby. I was not horrified by him, or creeped out by him. He was my son and all I felt was love.

During the last 2 days Brian and I had talked about names. We had always knew what name we wanted to name Daisy if she was a girl. But once we learned that our baby had died we knew we couldn't use that name anymore (and no, we are not sharing what that name was!). It's not that we were going to save the name for any future daughters, it's more that the name just wasn't right for Daisy anymore. We knew that if Daisy was a girl the only name that would be perfect for her was 'Daisy'. She was our Daisy and always would be. But if 'she' was a boy, then what? We had never agreed on a boy's name. We had no clue what name to chose. We had both always loved the name Benjamin. When I was pregnant with Jackson we considered that name but I had researched it in baby books and we quickly vetoed it. I read that in the bible Rachel gave birth to Benjamin but it was a difficult delivery and she died shortly after childbirth. We decided this was just a little to much of a bad omen. On Monday I had brought the name up again to Brian. I told him that the situation was already horrible, it couldn't get much worse than the fact that our baby was already dead. He got a bit annoyed at me for that, reminding me that it still could get much worse. But we agreed. If Daisy was a boy we would name him Benjamin, but we were not allowed to say the name again until after the delivery and I was okay. For the middle name we decided on two family names. I wanted William since on my dad's side of the family all the men are named only 2 of 3 names; James (which is Jackson's middle name), Ross, or William. I wanted Benjamin to carry on this tradition. Then we also wanted to honour Brian's granddad who had passed away. His name was Brian Herbert. We didn't want to use Brian so we agreed on Herbert. So our Daisy became Benjamin William Herbert.

So after Benjamin was born and Brian had cut the umbilical cord, Susan took him to the other side of the room to clean him up. While she did this I finished with the whole birthing process (placenta and all that nasty stuff). Susan weighed him (6 pounds 3 ounces) and measured him. He was 24" long. This was an amazing length. When Jackson was born he was in the higher percentile for length and he was only around 21.5". Benjamin was way off the charts. From his weight, length and head circumference Susan decided he was actually 36 weeks, instead of the 34 weeks she had believed. Even for 36 weeks he was off the charts for length. Even for full term he would have been off the charts. He was a very tall baby.

Susan brought him to us to hold. He was gorgeous. He looked so much like Jackson. He had his chin and his forehead. His nose was a perfect combination of Brian and me. We couldn't see his eyes, he was born with them closed and we didn't want to open them. He had adorable little ears and perfect fingers and toes. Oh, his toes. They were so perfect.

It was bittersweet. It was so surreal to hold him. He was done. He was fully cooked. It just wasn't right at all. He didn't look premature. He didn't look like there was anything wrong with him. Sure, his skin was bruised and peeling in spots (really only his belly tho). But his cheeks were so chubby!

We held him for a long time in that room. Susan and the nurse had left to give us some time with Benjamin. We were holding him at 11am when the moment of silence for Rememberance Day was announced over the hospital speakers. I can't even think of what to say about that. Here we were holding our son who was just born still and we knew all over the hospital everyone was stopping what they were doing to have a moment of silence for people who had passed away. It was right, but also so wrong. I didn't want to share this moment with anyone. I didn't want his birthday to be so closely associated with death and grieving. It just wasn't right. I know I will always associate his birthday with the day of his death; there is no way around that. But in my mind he died a few days before, this was only the day of his birth. He may not have been born alive, but he was born this day.

This is all I can type today. It is after midnight here and I am tired and now I am sad. But strangely also happy. I like remembering him and remembering the first time I got to see him. He is my son and although he was not born kicking and screaming I still got to hold him and kiss him and love him.

Sunday, November 9th

I don't think I am going to be able to do this in only 3 parts. There is too much to tell. I don't want to miss any important details or memories. I want to do the story right.

Today's post is only going to be about Sunday, November 9th. The day our lives changed so drastically.

The day started off well. We slept in a little while, letting Jackson play in his crib. I realized, while I laid there, that I hadn't felt Daisy moving that morning. Normally the baby was really active late at night and then again in the morning. I would lie in bed and feel all the rolls, kicks, punches and acrobatics. This morning I hadn't felt them. Then I wondered if I had felt them last night at all and didn't think so. Brian got me some juice and I drank that and then laid down on my left side. I remembered reading somewhere that if you hadn't felt the baby moving in a while to drink juice and lie on your left side, that would wake the baby up. So as I laid there Brian went and had a shower. When he came back into the bedroom he asked if Daisy had moved yet. I said no and that I wasn't sure what to do. He told me not to mess around with this and to call Susan. I was hesitant to call her. It was only around 8:15am. I didn't want to wake Susan up for a false alarm. I felt like I was over-reacting, that I was being a drama queen. I just did not think that anything would really be wrong. It was just me being a worrier.

I called Susan and told her that I hadn't felt Daisy move in a while. I wasn't sure when the last time I felt movement was. She told me she would be over around 9am. I went and had a shower and threw some comfy clothes on. While we waited for Susan Brian and I talked about what we were going to do that day. We planned on going out for breakfast and then putting the nursery together. We had just bought the crib and dresser on Friday and were looking forward to getting the room all done. So far it was still Jackson's playroom and we were kind of worried about how he would react to losing his second room. We were going to put the crib and dresser together and leave Jackson's toys in there for a while. We would transition the room from a playroom to Daisy's nursery slowly.

Susan got to our house and I laid down on our couch so she could listen for Daisy's heartbeat. She tried for about 10-15 minutes. At one point she thought she found it so she grabbed my wrist. Nope, it was my heartbeat, just beating very fast. I started crying because I was terrified that maybe I wasn't just being a drama queen. I really truly thought I was. While she was checking I swear I could feel Daisy moving. I even said to Susan "oh see, I just had to call you and she starts moving again, just to prove me wrong." Susan was worried. No, she was beyond worried. I think she was positive at that point that Daisy had no heartbeat. She told us to meet her at the hospital and she would check with their machines. Apparently they would be able to detect things that her equipment couldn't.

We got Jackson ready to go, called Tania to meet us at the hospital to look after Jackson, and headed to the hospital. We were both worried, but not to the point that we thought things were that bad. On the drive I asked Brian what percentage of him thought something was really wrong. Neither of us thought it was that likely. Once we got to the hospital we had to decide how long to get for parking. Brian thought we would only need an hour or two. I thought we should just get the 4 hour pass. How long could it take just to check me?

Susan was waiting for us at labour and delivery. Tania wasn't there yet so we all headed into the assessment room. Right away Susan got the fetal heart rate monitors out. She didn't strap them onto me, she just held them to my belly. She searched around for a while and still couldn't find anything. She started telling me she was sorry. I told her that at home when she was checking I could have sworn I felt Daisy moving. She told me that it was probably just the baby being pushed around from her pushing on my belly. Then she told me she was going to go and get the OB and the ultrasound machine.

I think at this point it was sort of starting to sink in for both of us. We new things were not looking good and we were getting scared.

I'm not sure of the order of things or the times of things, to be honest a lot of Sunday is a bit of a blur to me. I know the general order so that's what I'm going with here. It doesn't really matter anyway.

Tania got to the hospital right at the same time that the OB came into my room. Brian had taken Jackson out to see Tania, so he wasn't in the room for the ultrasound. When the OB came into the room he immediately told me he was sorry for my loss. Susan told him that I still had hope, that I thought I had felt the baby move when she was checking me at home. He told me that the ultrasound isn't a diagnostic tool, that it is just used to "confirm what we already know to be true". And with that he hooked up the ultrasound and right away brought up an image of Daisy's face. Then he moved down to the chest and showed me the heart. "No heart activity" is all he said. Just like that. "No heart activity". Then he told me he was sorry and started putting the machine away. I told him to wait, that he had to show Brian, that someone had to get Brian into the room. I was starting to panic. I didn't know what to do with this information. How could my baby be dead? How could this have happened to Daisy? Brian came back into the room and the OB right away told him he was sorry for our loss, then brought up the image again. Again he pointed to the heart and told us there was no movement. We asked him to see what gender Daisy was. We wanted to know now. There was no sense in waiting for the birth, I wanted to know right then if I was going to have a boy or a girl. It didn't make a difference, I just wanted to know so that we could prepare and just so we could know. I wanted to think of Daisy as s/he was for this last while. I didn't want to keep saying "if Daisy's a boy" or "if Daisy's a girl". It didn't matter tho, Daisy's legs were together and we couldn't see.

The doctor wiped the gel off my belly and put the machine away. Then he and Susan left the room. It was then that it fully sunk in. I started sobbing and yelling "It's not fair". Brian was trying to hold me but I was beating on his chest and just crying. I can't even describe the despair and hurt I felt at that moment. It was horrible. Nothing in my life has compared to the heartache that I felt in that room. My Daisy was dead. Inside of me. I had to give birth to my baby and I would never see her grow up. I would never see her smile. Never hear her talk. All the dreams and hopes and expectations that we had built up over the last 8 months were gone. Now we had to deal with this new reality, this new life. And it sucked.

I was going to be admitted to the hospital to get induced. We were given the option of being admitted right then or going home for a bit to get things organized and then come back. I wanted to get the process started right away. Brian went out of the room after a bit to get Tania and Jackson so that she could take him to her house for the night. Tania was so wonderful. She hugged me and talked to me for a while about everything. I was so thankful that she was there that day. Whenever I had thought about being in the hospital having Daisy my main fear was what we were going to do with Jackson. I was apprehensive about leaving him with anyone. He had only been left with family or Katie before and we didn't know how he would react. Luckily he really likes Tania and we are very comfortable with her. She took him to her house that night and we were not worried about him at all. I was so pleased with that, it was relieving not to have that extra worry. We knew he was in good hands and most likely having a blast with Kai.

I called my parents after Jackson left and asked my Mom to fly out here. This was one of those times that a person just really needs her Mommy. My parents were shocked by the news and I could hear their despair and sadness. I needed them here with me.

We met Susan back in the assessment room and a lab technician was waiting for us. I had to have blood drawn. I'm still not sure what all the blood was drawn for. I'm assuming to check for blood antibodies, iron levels, etc. At that point I would have cut off an arm if they told me I had to. The lab tech was a very kind woman. She whispered to me that she was so sorry for my loss. I just cried and whispered back that it wasn't fair. She agreed and then told me that her sister had lost a baby too. She was pregnant with twins and found out that one of them had died the day before they were born. She told me that she likes to think that when a baby dies in the womb that it means the body just wasn't right for them. That are up in heaven waiting for the next chance, the next body that is right for them. That gave me some comfort for a while.

Somehow we ended up in our new room over in the antepartum wing. I do not remember getting to that room. I don't know if I walked there, if I was wheeled there (I doubt it tho). I really do not remember getting there or getting into the bed. This room was a double room but I did not have a roommate and would not have one the entire time I was there. This room was designated for people in my 'situation'. The problem (one of a few) with this room was that I had to share a bathroom with the adjoining room. Because of this I could hear a lot from their room. Brian and I went for a walk around the hospital Sunday night and when we got back to the room all I could hear was the sound of a baby's heartbeat. The patient next door had the fetal heartrate monitor hooked up and it was loud and echoing in my room. It was horrible and cruel. The nurses said it has to be that loud because they need to be able to hear it at the nurses station.

Around 1pm Susan came in to start the induction. She inserted some Cervidil which should get my body started in the labour process. I'll leave out all the details on all of this. And this is also where times and details get a little fuzzy.

Now all we had to do was wait. Brian and I hung out at the hospital all afternoon. He went home at one point to get some stuff for me. I didn't have a hospital bag packed or anything. It never occurred to me that I would need one. I thought I was only 34 weeks pregnant. I thought I had weeks still before I needed to get to that task.

In the early evening Brian went out to work for a bit to get stuff ready so that he wouldn't have to go back the next day. While Brian was gone the OB came back to talk to me. He told me that, so far, there was no reason for why Daisy's heart had stopped. There didn't appear to be any cord problems. He went on to tell me that we may never know the cause, we could have an autopsy done but answers may never be found. He also told me that vaginal birth was the best choice for stillbirths. That it's really not recommended to do a c-section because the recovery time is longer and if/when I have another baby I'd be more likely to need a c-section again (vaginal births after c-sections are thought to be riskier). I was fine with all of that. I did NOT want a c-section. He also told me that when the time came, I might want to get an epidural. I had been planning on having a natural birth. With Jackson I had a bit of morphine and that's all I wanted this time too. The doctor said that with a normal birth all the endorphins and excitement of meeting your baby help to dull the physical pain a bit. In the case of a stillbirth you won't have that, so the pain might seem stronger. It was something to keep in mind.

Brian left to go to the airport to pick up my mom. I called him around the time she was supposed to land to make sure she got there okay. He surprised me by telling me that they got there fine. My dad had decided to come too. I was so pleased to hear that. I had been worried about my mom flying by herself. I could only picture her sitting on the plane sad and crying by herself. I was happy to have both my mom and dad coming to be with me. They got to the hospital in the late evening and sat with us in my room for a bit. Then they went to their condo for the night.

So far I had been having some very light cramping, but nothing implying labour was imminent. We decided to go to sleep for the night and see what tomorrow would bring.

The Pregnancy

We found out I was pregnant in April of 2008. We kept going back and forth between wanting to start 'trying' around Christmas of 2007 and starting around Jackson's first birthday (May 2008). I had gone to the doctor in February to discuss getting pregnant since I had blood incompatibility issues with Jackson. When he was born he had severe jaundice and we were told it was because I am O- and he is A+. We were told I must have antibodies built up and therefore we might run into problems with future pregnancies. We spoke to Jackson's pediatrician and he told us that we should be able to get pregnant fine, but that we might have issues during the second or third trimester, that the baby might need to have in interuterin blood transfusion, that I might have to deliver early, and other scary prospects. I made an appointment with my family doctor to discuss these concerns. He did not have any experience with these issues since he is not a maternity doctor. He told me he would research it and make a follow up appointment to discuss what he found out. So a few weeks later (back to February) I went back to see him. He told me that my chances of having any more children were 'very bleak'. That my body has the blood antibodies and so the chances of even being able to get pregnant were slim. But then he told me to be thankful I have Jackson and that he is such a joy. I left that appointment thinking he was a quack. I had already spoken to some other people about this and knew he wasn't right. It still was upsetting to hear someone say those things tho.

I called his office the next day and asked to be referred to a high risk OB/GYN. I wanted a second opinion from someone who has a little more knowledge than what he read in the scary case studies. We went to see this new doctor a few weeks later. This new doctor is the God of Fertility doctors around here. People come from all over to see him. I was happy to be going to him. During our first visit we were told that a simple blood test would tell me if I have any antibodies. That's all I needed. If I did have the antibodies then we would deal with that, if not then we should have no problems. I got the blood test done and at our follow appointment we found out that I have no antibodies! There should be no issues with blood incompatibility during the pregnancy. I should have a normal pregnancy, like I did with Jackson.

I got pregnant about a month later. We had not really been meaning to get pregnant when we did. When I was pregnant with Jackson we referred to him as Bob. Brian chose that name. There was no meaning behind it, it was just a simple name that seemed to stick. This time we referred to the little one growing inside of me as Daisy. As in Oops-a-Daisy. I questioned whether this was a good name or a bad name. What would we tell this child when they were older and wanted to know why we called him/her Daisy while I was pregnant? But Daisy stuck. Soon everyone we knew was asking us how Daisy was.

At first I was terrified. I was scared to be pregnant while also having such a rambunctious, 'spirited' toddler. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to give Jackson the attention he needed while I was pregnant. I was scared that he would miss out on things. I was scared that I wouldn't be able to love two children enough. I already loved Jackson so much it hurt sometimes. How could I love another baby that much too?

Then I got more used to the idea. I started looking forward to having two kids so close in age. They would play together well and they would be such good friends (that's what I hoped anyways, lol). Jackson would be a fantastic big brother. He would teach Daisy so many things.

We had a flight booked for June 1st to go to Ontario for Jackson's first birthday. We were planning on telling our families all about Daisy after the birthday party. We had bought Jackson a t-shirt that said 'oh boy I'm going to be a big brother'. He was going to be the one to tell everyone about Daisy. We were excited.

Before we left I made an appointment with Susan, my midwife. I was just about 12 weeks pregnant and I wanted to hear Daisy's heart beat before we told everyone. I had heard Jackson's heartbeat at 9 weeks, but so far had not heard Daisy's. I was a little worried (since I was already paranoid about everything with this pregnancy, y'know being a worrier by nature, lol). Susan tried to find the heartbeat and couldn't. She tried for at least 5 minutes. Then she asked me how sure I was about my dates. I told her I was very sure. She poked around at my belly and then told me that she was going to make me a same-day ultrasound. She was worried. My belly wasn't measuring at 11.5 weeks, and it was odd not to be able to find the heart beat yet. She told me that either my dates were wrong (which I was insistent on being correct) or I had had a miscarriage. She obviously believed I had miscarried, and she was preparing me for that.

Brian came with me to the ultrasound. I was terrified. As I laid on the exam table and the ultrasound tech got the image up on the screen I think I held my breath the entire time. In a minute an image of Daisy filled the screen. I started crying and asked her if she could tell if the baby was okay. She told me that she couldn't tell from this image, she would have to do 'the other kind of ultrasound' (don't worry, I'll leave those details out). Just then Daisy jumped around and flung her arms out. She was okay. I started bawling, I was so relieved. The ultrasound tech got some more images for us and checked everything out. Daisy was fine, just a lot smaller than expected. They told me my dates were wrong. That I was actually only 10.5 weeks, not 12.5. Two weeks less. That put my due date at December 18th, when I had been believing it was December 4th. I was disappointed that I basically lost 2 weeks of my pregnancy, but relieved that Daisy was okay. I didn't realize until that day how badly I wanted this baby. Up until then I was happy to be pregnant, but really worried at the same time. I had been questioning whether this was what I really wanted, was this the right time to be pregnant? But when I thought I had miscarried I was so upset, I wanted the baby to be okay so badly. I didn't care if the timing was right, or if I would be pregnant while being the mommy of a rambunctious toddler. I just wanted my Daisy to be okay.

That weekend we flew home to Ontario for Jackson's first birthday party. So many people came to the party and Jackson had so much fun! We wanted to just shout out the news that we were going to have another baby, we wanted everyone to know and everyone to be excited about it. But at the same time we wanted that day to be just about Jackson. We didn't want his very first birthday party to be about anything but him. It was his special day and he deserved all the attention.

After everyone but my parents, Brian's parents and Brian's grandma left we dressed Jackson in his t-shirt. He had just woken up from a nap and was being really clingy so he wouldn't walk into the room to surprise everyone with the message on his shirt. Finally we coaxed him to do it and our Moms read the shirt. Everyone was excited by the news, but I still think we were most excited just to finally be able to share our joy! Keeping it a secret is so hard!

The next few weeks went by without much of a hitch. Daisy cooked away, I got increasingly uncomfortable and grumpy, lol. Jackson stayed oblivious to the fact that I was growing a little sibling for him to play with. Really, kids should just know these things and sleep longer, nap better, play quieter, etc. But no such luck.

I went for my routine ultrasound at one day shy of 18 weeks. They want you to go for this scan between 18 and 22 weeks. They were basing my dates on my original due date when they made the appointment, so they thought I was one day shy of 20 weeks, which was the optimal time for the scan. When I got there and they realized how far along I only was they decided to go ahead with the ultrasound, but warned us that they might not be able to get all the views they needed. Daisy was really active during the scan and we were able to see so much! We made sure to tell the technician that we didn't want to know the gender, so during those views we had to look away. Brian was mainly the one that didn't want to know. I desperately wanted to know if Daisy was a boy or a girl, but I also knew that if I did find out I would instantly regret it. I like the suspense of not knowing, and that moment when you have the baby and get to hear "it's a....". Plus what difference would it make?

We were in that ultrasound room for quite a while and they were able to see everything but didn't get all the shots of the heart that they needed. At my follow up appointment with Susan (my midwife) she told me that it was up to me whether or not I wanted to go back for another ultrasound to get more views of the heart. She told me that the radiologist was happy enough with the images that they got. It was a no brainer. Of course I wanted to go back for another ultrasound (remember, I am a worrier by nature, lol).

I am so glad I went back! The next ultrasound was done when I was 22.5 weeks and Daisy was quite a bit bigger. Brian wasn't able to go with me to this scan since he had to stay with Jackson (children aren't allowed in the ultrasound room). The technician that I had at this appointment was fantastic! She took her time to show me everything and point out everything! She showed me every inch of Daisy (okay, except the 'bits' since Brian made me promise to tell her I didn't want to know the gender). She even showed me a 4D image of Daisy's face, which was a little creepy, lol. I had told her that at our previous ultrasound we weren't able to get any good profile pictures because Daisy was camera shy and kept moving. This fantastic tech spent forever trying to get some good profile shots for me (which she did!). She also got some great pictures of Daisy's hands, feet, legs, and nose/lips. She was only supposed to be checking the heart, but she told me that she figures since she is doing the scan anyways she may as well check everything. I'm glad she did, I got fifteen ultrasound photos of Daisy! And I got to watch my baby moving around and being so lively.

Every midwife appointment I had went well. When I was pregnant with Jackson I had high blood pressure and I was worried that my blood pressure would go up with this pregnancy too. I was also worried about blood incompatibility issues. My biggest fear through this entire pregnancy was that Daisy would develop severe jaundice when s/he was born and be rushed to the Special Care Nursery (SCN), like Jackson was. I knew I could handle it better this time, and I knew I would be proactive and demand bilirubin tests from the moment s/he was born until we were discharged from the hospital. But of course, that fear was still there. The fear that my baby would need special care and I wouldn't be able to keep her/him in my room with me. It was so hard when Jackson was taken to the SCN and I did not want to have to go through that heartache again.

Luckily my blood pressure remained at the high end of normal. I never had to go on any medication, I didn't have to be monitored closer, I didn't have to limit my sodium intake. I got my blood antibodies rechecked around 28 weeks and I still had no antibodies. I got my rhogam shot around 32 weeks (going with a December 18th due date). This shot was late, I was supposed to get it at 28 weeks, but wasn't sent for it in time (this wasn't an issue tho). Everything with the pregnancy was going along just perfectly.

Daisy wasn't a very active baby. S/he would mostly kick and roll when I was lying in bed at night or first thing in the morning. I would joke to Brian that already the kids were ganging up on me. Daisy would keep me up at night with her/his acrobatics and Jackson would wake me up early. But I loved feeling Daisy kicking and rolling. Every night when I put Jackson to bed I would sit back in the rocking chair and Jackson would curl up over my giant belly and I would sing them two bedtime songs, Douglas Mountain and Mr.Moon. Most nights Daisy would start kicking Jackson like s/he was annoyed that Jackson was crowding her/him. The first couple times Jackson was a little disturbed by it and couldn't figure out what was happening, but soon he just got used to it, lol. I loved these moments.

I searched for the perfect bedding set for Daisy. I found the one I wanted but it was too expensive so I decided to sew my own. I found the perfect material and found a pattern. I was only going to make the crib bumpers, crib skirt and a quilt. I worked on them every day while Jackson napped. I would sew, watch Baby Story on TLC, and feel Daisy rolling and kicking (I think the sound of the sewing machine would wake her/him up). I managed to finish the crib skirt fairly quickly, but the bumpers were a pain to make! I actually finished them the weekend before the birth. The quilt is still unfinished.
There is this group of women from all over the States (and one in Canada) that I chat with online every day. They are my 'fake friends' my '60 year old men'. I have shared so many details of my pregnancy with them that they all feel a certain bond to Daisy. One day I complained to them that I never had a baby shower for Jackson and wasn't going to have one for Daisy either. That, since all my family and the majority of my friends lived far away from me, I didn't feel there were many people around me who were excited about this baby. I felt a little alone and sad. Do you know what these wonderful women did? They secretly all emailed each other (numerous times I imagine) and put together a baby shower in a box. They sent me three big boxes of presents. They had all bought them and sent them to one women, who then put it all together and sent them to me. I got the boxes on November 5th and got to enjoy a little baby shower! It was such a thoughtful thing and I loved every minute (and every present!). It was so fantastic to know that these women, these 'fake friends' that I had never met in person, cared about me and Daisy so much that they did this for us. I was truly touched.

Our biggest issue was trying to decide on a name. We had a girl's name picked (sorry Becki, it was not going to be Daisy, lol). And we had the middle name chosen. But if Daisy ended up being a boy we had no clue what we were going to call him. I was constantly emailing Brian ideas on boy's names. He was no help, he would reply with snide comments about my choices. A perfect example was when I emailed him a list and he replied with the following:

Timothy (Tiny Tim)
Asher (is that a name?)
Colby (Cheese)
Nigel (Really?!?)
Zachary (I don’t like that one)

See how much help he was? So we still couldn't come up with a name (this list was from the end of September, but it really did not get any better, lol). We were so sure that Daisy would be a girl tho that we weren't that worried.

I'm sure I'm forgetting important aspects of this pregnancy. Things I know I want to remember. But the thing is, the pregnancy wasn't all that noteworthy. It was a perfect pregnancy. There were no major issues, no causes for alarm, nothing to 'write home about'. Everything went well. Every checkup was good. Daisy's heart beat was always strong, I was measuring right on track. We were looking good.