Holding Our Angel

Loving After Loss


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Tomorrow

Tomorrow is it.

In 13 hours and a handful of minutes, we have our phone appointment with the geneticist. We learn if Theo had any genetic abnormalities, or if he was as perfect of a baby genetically as he is to his momma.

If my husband or I need to be tested for a genetic disease.

Tomorrow will determine if we can (or should) go forward with trying to conceive a sibling for Theo. Or if adoption is a better option for us.

Just a little over a year ago, I was opposed to having kids. Now I’m desperately praying it’s God’s plan for us to have a baby–whether biologically ours, or through adoption.

I’m mostly calm. I’m excited, impatient, and yep, slightly anxious and nervous. I feel like life is beginning all over again tomorrow. The start of a new chapter and phase of life.


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Grief Brain

Just like pregnancy brain is a real thing, so is grief brain.

My pastor explained it in such a great way.

Let’s say everyone has $10 in emotional currency (emotional energy) to spend each day. This $10 is spent on your work stress, relationships, every day life, and all the big and little things in life that cause you happiness, sadness, anger, and every other emotion.

But mourning takes $8 right off the bat. $8 of your available emotional currency is goes to grief, leaving you just $2 to spend on every day life. You have $2 to spend on that which most people have $10 to spend on.

Because so much of your emotional energy is going toward the grief (even you may not be actively grieving), you often forget things you normally wouldn’t. People’s name, important dates, what day of the week it is, even more important things you thought you would never forget. It’s also why you may sleep more than usual–stress and grief is exhausting not just emotionally, but physically.

This has happened to me. Especially on bad days, like today.


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Theo’s Tree

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Yesterday a wonderful gift was given to us, and the community.

This beautiful tree was donated by some of our family and friends in Theo’s honor. It was planted in a beautiful, local park. Opposite the tree is a beautiful pond, with a fountain feature. A plaque with Theo’s name is in front of the tree.

The tree is a Chinese Pistache tree. It will take about 10-15 years to get full-size, and in the fall will turn a gorgeous red, yellow, or orange color. I’m so excited to see this tree grow, and I plan on making many visits to the tree throughout the years. I’m already planning all of the family photo shoots that will be done around Theo’s tree.

It was a beautiful ceremony. The volunteer from the non-profit that plants the trees spoke about the tree and the benefits it will provide the park. She explained the reasoning for the location, and what made this spot so special. She then walked us through how to plant a tree, and we got to plant Theo’s tree ourselves.

The hole was pre-dug, but we were able to take the tree out of the pot, break up it’s roots, and put it in the ground. I then held the tree in place as all of our family and friends filled the hole with dirt. It was a messy job, but it was a lot of fun.

My dad and brother then helped the ceremony leader put in the posts to keep the tree straight.

Park workers who volunteer with the non-profit then put mulch around the tree (but not right against the trunk!), and watered it. It was a lot of fun planting the tree, and it was so special that we got to put it in the ground. The ceremony leader said something that really stayed with me. As she was explaining how to break up the roots, she said, “No one has touched the roots before you. And no one will touch the roots after you. Your hands will be the only hands to touch Theo’s roots.” I loved that.

After the ceremony, we had a picnic lunch with everyone. It was a lot of fun hanging out with everyone. During the picnic, a lost dog found her way to house. She was obviously pregnant, and terrified.  A few of my friends took her to the shelter, but I think one of them will be adopting her if her owners don’t claim her by the deadline. 🙂 I think it was fate that we were there when the dog was.

And though it wasn’t planned for this reason, I love that Theo’s tree was planted the day after Earth Day. It’s so amazing that my baby is making our community more beautiful, and he will live on for years to come in the park.


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Second Trimester

In like a lion, out like a lamb could describe the second trimester.

It was the best one of the pregnancy for me. The nausea had disappeared by week 15, and I was starting to develop an adorable baby bump. I didn’t really start to show until I was 24 weeks because Theo liked to sit closer to my back than my stomach.

I felt good physically, and much better about the pregnancy. Once I felt him kick, I was all in. Him stirring inside made me realize this was a baby, and he was my baby. I began to love him, and I would talk with him. When my belly was bigger, my husband would talk to the baby as well.

I was still nervous about becoming a mom, and began to worry I wouldn’t be able to protect him from the world. I was fearful that he would be taken away from me. But I also imagined all the fun things we would do–the places we would take him, the pictures we would take. We love to travel and the idea of exposing him to different countries and cultures was so much fun. We would talk about where we wanted to take him first. We began to focus on the future adventures.

We went to Vancouver, Canada, and Seattle, Washington, when I was around 30 weeks. We had originally planned a cruise to Alaska, but cruise lines won’t let you cruise past 24 weeks pregnant (surprise!). So we changed our plans and spent the week in Vancouver and a few days in Seattle instead. We had a ton of fun. Every where we went we told him what we were doing. Everyone talked about the baby everywhere we went, and I was soaking it in. The attention was awesome, I’m not going to lie.

I was still pretty active during the second trimester. I walked a few miles every day, and I did yoga and weight lifting when I could. Toward the end of the second trimester, I stopped doing yoga and weight lifting but I felt good physically. My only complain was I developed horrible heart burn. It would wake me up at night.

Mostly the second trimester was uneventful. It was peaceful and fun.


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Becoming Real

I got a very unexpected call today.

The genetics department called to say the genetic testing will be done in the next few days, and they wanted to make an appointment for next week to go over the results.

Thursday, the 28th we find out the results. It’s a phone appointment, so I’m leaning toward the results being good (i.e. they found no genetic reason).

It’s real now! We could be trying for another baby after this cycle! Oh my gosh, I’m so excited! This time next year, I could have a baby! I’m nervous, and scared, and about a million other emotions I wasn’t expecting.

Now that it’s real, now that it’s here, I’m questioning everything. Are we ready again? I want a baby so badly, but can we handle a baby while we’re still in the beginning stages of grief? Is it a good idea to try now, or should we wait a couple more months? But what if it’s not good news? What if they tell us that we have a high chance of this happening again, and we will need to do IVF or something to get pregnant with a healthy baby?

I wanted to lose about 15 more pounds (I’ve already at my pre-pregnancy weight! Yay!), and I was hoping to knock out a couple of house projects before we got pregnant. And there’s the trip we’re planning to Hawaii this fall. I’m fine being pregnant when we travel, but do I want to be 5 or 6 months pregnant?

And what about the tattoo I want to get? I know you shouldn’t get a tattoo while pregnant, but what about when you are TTC?

Oh my goodness, so many thoughts…

Want to know my husband’s reaction? “Great, next week we’ll know.”

Anything else sweetie?

“No.”

Really? What do you think about trying after next week?

“OK.”

MEN.


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First Kick

The first time I felt him kick was in June. I was about 15 weeks along, and it was June 8th. I awoke in the middle of the night and my stomach felt weird, like it was twitching on the inside. I stayed awake for a few minutes, and it didn’t happen again so I went back to sleep. I remember thinking that it might have been the baby, but dismissed the thought since it was so early.

Later that morning, around 10ish I felt it again. And again. And I realized that it was the baby moving! I was so excited to feel him move. It was also the first time I felt like a mom, and I developed a connection with him.

I began after that day to look forward to feeling him move, and I would poke my stomach and drink juice to get him moving. I felt like his movements were unspoken conversations between us.

My husband and I would joke that Theo thought my stomach was a night club. He began moving so much that in the last trimester you could literally see my stomach moving around, and jiggly. He was such an active baby, he would wake me up many, many times from his movements. If I started to pay less attention to him, he would move and demand I pay him more attention.


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Odd Comforts

I’ve been thinking a lot about the weird things we find comforting. Maybe take for granted is a better way to describe it.

For instance, I have a good job. And through this job, I have good health insurance. I live in a good area with a good hospital. I live in the US. I never thought it was possible for a healthy pregnancy to result in a sick baby. I thought that because I had good doctors and access to all the resources I have, I would have a healthy baby.

Even when Theo was transferred to SF and we were on our way there, I always thought he would be ok. I thought maybe he would have surgery, and we would have to stay in SF for a few months. On the drive I started thinking of everyone we knew who lived in the Bay area who would let us crash on their couch. I though that babies didn’t die in the US.

How wrong I was.  Neonatal death may be lower here than other places, but it still happens.

Ignorance really is bliss sometimes.


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Wanting to Try Again

 

Baby fever is an understatement for what I’ve been feeling lately. I want a living child so badly, it hurts. Truly, my heart aches that I don’t have a living child with me. Every time I hear a baby cry or laugh, see a toddler crossing the street holding their parent’s hand… my heart breaks a little. I don’t have that.

And I never will experience that with my first born. I will never be able to comfort him, laugh with him, hell, I won’t even have the chance of grounding and disciplining him. I am mourning a life I will never have.

I want to emphasize that no future child, or even 20,000 living children, will EVER replace my Theo. I’ll never love him any less than any future children we have. I will always love him just as much as any parent loves their children.

But having Theo awoke something in me. I was never sure I wanted kids, but having Theo unlocked a part of my heart and a love I never knew was possible. I know I have it in me to love another child, and be willing to make the sacrifices parenthood requires.

So I am going crazy to have another child. We are waiting until we receive the genetic results from Theo before we start trying again. There is a minuscule chance of his condition being genetic, but we would rather be safe than sorry. It’s only a few months, it won’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

At least, that’s what I am telling myself. It’s only a couple of months, but it feels like an eternity. And while I know it makes sense to wait, part of me can’t feel anything but crushed every time my period arrives. I can’t wait to cuddle with a newborn, to get up for the millionth time in the middle of the night, and to kiss little owies after jumping off the swing. And every month it’s a reminder that the life I so desperately want is just out of my reach.

And just to throw in another layer of confusion, I breathe a slight sigh of relief with every period. Because grief isn’t linear, it isn’t clean or black and white, and so there are a lot of confusing and contradictory emotions. I breathe easy with each period because I know how terrified I will be with the next pregnancy. I will cherish every second, but I will no longer have that blissful ignorance and naivety I once had with pregnancy. In the back of my mind I will always know that a healthy baby isn’t a guaranteed. And though the love I have for my child is worth all of the pain in the world, it scares me that the next pregnancy might end just as tragically. And I don’t know if I can handle burying two children.