Friday, May 29, 2009

How are babies made?

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A difficult week

This week has been hard. Surprisingly hard.

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

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

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

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

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

So that's my week. Kinda sucks eh?

A good poem

“A Pair of Shoes”

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

- Author unknown