Holding Our Angel

Loving After Loss


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Baby Shower

Kenny’s coworkers (at his full-time job) really wanted to throw us a baby shower, and Kenny really wanted to have one with them, so we ended up having a small baby shower at his work. I thought it would be just his department (about 6 people), but way more people showed up to it and we were both surprised by how many people showed up. It was very sweet, his work has been very supportive of us since Theo died. I was able to attend the shower, and it was nice to meet so many of his coworkers I hadn’t before.

We got a few gifts, all clothes, which I am grateful for. We have all the baby stuff we need for Steam Bun, so we’ve been telling people to just get us clothes for Steam Bun. I’m so conflicted over Theo’s clothes and whether I want to see Steam Bun wearing them. I go back and forth, and I know there’s no right answer, I’ll just have to take that moment by moment. So having more clothes for Steam Bun is going to come in handy.

Though as I was cutting the tags off everything and tossing them in the laundry basket, it occurred to me that soon, way too soon, there will be a point where I don’t have the option of using “hand-me-downs” for Steam Bun. We only have so many clothes that were brought for/given to Theo, and they only go up to about 1 yr old in sizes. At some point in the very near future, Steam Bun will outgrow all of the clothes originally belonging to Theo, and we’ll have no choice but to buy new clothes for him. Same goes for toys, now that I think about it, and everything else he’ll need past infancy. The “hand-me-downs” we have now for Steam Bun are all baby things, and we’ll never have the hand-me-downs from when Theo was a toddler, pre-teen, etc.

What a crappy realization to have.

So I’ve been very vague with people about my due date and when the repeat c-section (RCS) is scheduled. I’ve been vague about when we want people to visit. I did this because I wanted to avoid making plans and having to answer everyone’s questions on this, and my vagueness has been successful so far. But as we near the end, it’s obvious that I now have to tell people what I want in regards to this. Damn.

Kenny pointed this out to me, that if I don’t express my desires in regards to visitors, etc. clearly, I’m likely to be frustrated at people because they won’t know what I want them to do. I really hate it when he’s right. 😉 So I spent some time today texting and calling people to clarify when I want them to visit and what I will need from them. Everyone took it really well, which I mostly knew they would. I don’t want visitors at the hospital, and a lot of people wanted to visit us in the hospital, so having to tell them no was hard for me. I was so hesitant to clarify my wishes in this area because I hate disappointing people, and I already feel like I let so many people down with Theo dying and my grief. I feel like my grief is a burden on people for many, many reasons, which just sucks.

So, as a way for me to practice expressing my wishes for the delivery and visitors, I’m going to go over my plan here. I’ve already told this to most of the people who will be visiting us those first couple of weeks, but goodness knows I need practice in saying this.

We will let family and close friends know when he’s here, but we will not be having any visitors in the hospital. We’ll be telling them when I am expected to be discharged so they can arrange to visit us after we are home. It’s important to both Kenny and myself that we have the days in the hospital to ourselves, and we’ll probably keep our phones off for most of the stay. Kenny and I both are expecting those first few days to be rather emotional, and we want to deal with that in private before everyone sees Steam Bun. Once we’re home, people can come visit us whenever they want and they’re welcome to stay during the day as long as they want, as long as they leave at night and sleep somewhere else. Kenny and I want to make sure we have some privacy at home too and a chance to relax once all the visitors leave for the night.

Ugh, it was much harder for me to make these plans and vocalize my wishes than I expected. If Steam Bun doesn’t live… it’s just more we have to undo and disappoint people all over again. I really hate all of this.


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It’s complicated

I took a short break from blogging because I needed to reevaluate if being so open about grief and child loss was still helping me. I think being honest and real about these topics is so important, but it also has some challenges and I wanted to make sure there were still enough benefits for me. Especially as we near Steam Bun’s birth, I expect there to be so many emotions if he lives. I can’t predict what I’ll feel, but I am prepared to face whatever I am feeling head on. That will make some people uncomfortable, because the truth and life can be uncomfortable, and I needed to make sure I was up for dealing with that.

Kenny and I have gotten very specific in our prayers over Steam Bun. We prayed every day for Theo, always asking God to watch over him and keep him safe. Which, technically God is doing, but so not what we meant (obviously). So now when we pray fro Steam Bun we say things like “Please let Steam Bun continue to develop properly, be born alive and screaming, and be born healthy. Please make sure his worst illness isn’t something over-the-counter medicine can’t fix, and make sure he lives on Earth for at least 60 years, dying only after we die. And make sure we don’t die until we are at least 60 years old, and only if we die together”. I used to also throw in something about not going into premature labor, but I’m not as worried about that now. It’s still hard to trust that God will answer our prayers regarding Steam Bun, and I think I’ll be struggling with that for awhile, even if Steam Bun is born healthy.

So I’m on maternity leave now, at the end of my second week actually. It feels like it has been forever already! I’m already ahead of my schedule in terms of completing projects, apparently I work more quickly than I realize (when I want to, lol). Kenny teaches at a university part-time, so I volunteered to do all of his grading and everything for the rest of the semester. Gives me another project to focus on. Lol.

My first project was to remove the koala decal from the nursery and put up the new decal I bought for Steam Bun. It unbelievably sucked to take down Theo’s decal. I cried for most of that, I felt like I was giving up on Theo in a weird way. And there’s no graceful way of removing a decal that size, so many of the koalas and parts of the tree ripped as I was removing them, which made me feel worse. It’s just awful to have to change your child’s room because they died, even if it is to potentially welcome another one home.

Putting up Steam Bun’s decal (owls in birch trees), was easier on me and fun, but part of me thought, “This is going to be a huge pain in the ass to remove if he doesn’t live”. This actually made me laugh, as I remembered Kenny commenting that the koala decal would be a pain to remove when Theo decided he no longer liked koalas. And it just seemed so morbidly funny to be making almost the same comment, a year and a half apart, and yet the comments be so very different.

Putting together Steam Bun’s nursery has such a different feel than when I did it for Theo. With Theo, there was no doubt he would come home. We were past the “safe point” in the pregnancy and naively thought a healthy baby was a given at that point. We naively believed healthy pregnancies end with a healthy baby, that SIDS and childhood cancer were the only threats we faced. And those were things that happened to “other people”.

Now it’s a weird tug and pull, torn between wanting to prepare and be excited for this baby, but knowing that every additional thing I do is just one more thing I’ll have to undo if he doesn’t live. I think we’ll have to move if Steam Bun doesn’t come home. And preparing for Steam Bun has brought up new aspects of grief I didn’t know before. I mourn the rose-colored glasses I used to have regarding pregnancy, but mostly I mourn what Steam Bun is missing out on. As I change the nursery, I’m keenly aware that it’s not changing how it’s supposed to be changing.

At this point in my alternate life (the one in which Theo lives), we would be debating if we should even bother with buying Steam Bun a crib. After all, both the boys would have to share a room and we would eventually need to buy a bunk bed. Would we try to move Theo to a bunk bed now, and let Steam Bun use his crib? Would we keep Steam Bun in our room for as long as possible, to let Theo keep his crib for as long as possible? Would we use this opportunity to change the theme of the boys’ room to a more typical boy theme, like superheroes or dinosaurs?

I’ll never know the answers to these questions.

Instead of talking about how to prepare Theo for having a younger brother and sharing the spotlight, we talk about the best way to tell a younger sibling their older sibling is dead, and when. We talk about if we think Steam Bun will grieve because he sees us grieving, and if that is healthy or not. Instead of learning to prepare an older sibling for a baby, we talk to loss parents about how they deal with handling their grief while parenting a living child.

Steam Bun will never have the older brother he should have. He won’t have an older brother to torment him, play with him, protect him. I’ll never be able to say “go play with your brother” unless I want Steam Bun to play with Theo bear, or an imaginary Theo. And though it’s normal for kids to have imaginary friends, what if Steam Bun says his imaginary friend is Theo?? I realize I’m getting ahead of myself here, but is it normal for a kid to have their deceased older sibling as their imaginary friend? These are the things I think about.

Last weekend we were hanging out at a friend’s backyard and I got so many mosquito bites. It was a last minute thing and I forgot to put on bug spray, not that it helps me much as I am candy to mosquitos. Every time I get a mosquito bite, the bite welts and I will get hives if I scratch it. I wasn’t sure what I’m allowed to use for the bites while pregnant, so I called my doctor to double check. She also gave me a list of symptoms to watch out for (for West Nile Virus, etc.). I was not at all concerned about the bites until then, and now I’m paranoid. Lol. I’ve managed to resist googling WNV + pregnancy so far, hopefully I can keep holding out.

I had appointments with the fire department this week to have the car seat checked in both of our cars. It’s strange driving around with the car seat base in my car again. The car seat itself is in the closet, and there it will remain until we leave for the hospital. But it’s still strange, opening up the door to the back seat and seeing a car seat base. As I walk past cars, I peer in and see if they have car seats or other signs of kids in the car. I wonder what their family is like–have they lost a child? Was the road to the family they have an easy one? I wonder if people will walk past my car and see the car seat base and think the same thing. (This sounds creepier than it is: I’m not going up to each car and sticking my face against the window. Lol. I just glance in as I am walking by.)

I’ve been meticulously saving the receipts and boxes for everything I’ve bought for Steam Bun. Last time, I threw out all the boxes right away and saved receipts for only the big items or the things I wasn’t sure would work. Now I’m saving receipts for even the nightlight I bought, with all of the boxes piled up in the hall closet.

Grief, pregnancy hormones, and loss brain are a dangerous combination. It’s exhausting dealing with all of this honestly. Though I am not wishing for a preemie, I’ll be so grateful when this pregnancy is over. I think Kenny’s looking forward to it being over too. 😉

Since I know I’m having a c-section this time, I’ve been doing research on c-section recovery. My postpartum care last time was definitely lacking, and that can only be partially blamed on me discharging myself against medical advice from the hospital. At my 4-6 week postpartum appointment, I was cleared for exercising and when I asked what kind of exercises were safe to do all I was told was “go slow”. Fortunately, I soon found a loss mom who is also a personal trainer, and she was able to give me really good information on how to safely return to exercise after a c-section. I’ll also be trying a belly binder this time, which I did not know about after my last c-section.

I’ve been off facebook for a few weeks and it’s been so refreshing! I did sneak on to Kenny’s facebook and immediately regretted it. My anxiety and PTSD were immediately triggered, and this only confirmed facebook is no good for me. There is one thing I miss though, a small facebook group of loss moms that focused on mental and physical health after loss. Having that community for support in dealing with PTSD, body image after loss, etc. was so great and I miss it. The loss community is truly like no other. Maybe I’ll try to start something like that locally after Steam Bun’s birth.

This upcoming week I’ll be working on Steam Bun’s baby book. I’m so conflicted about this one. Ugh.


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Maternity photos

We did our maternity photos this weekend and it was a lot of fun. The same photographer did our maternity photos from when I was pregnant with Theo.

When I emailed her several weeks ago, she was so sweet about hearing Theo died. And then this weekend, when Kenny and I arrived at the park for our photos, she came up to us and said “There’s nothing I can say, so I’m just going to give you a big hug”, and did just that.

She spent the session alternating asking us questions about Theo and Steam Bun, which I loved. I really felt liked she cared about our whole family, not just a part of it. At the end of the session, she asked me what kind of support we’ve received that was NOT helpful for us. I was a little surprised by her question, very few have asked us that, but thought it was a great question to ask. I wish more would ask that question, honestly.

We included our Theo bear in a lot of the photos, and I can’t wait to see how they turn out. I really hope that this time, we can use her for newborn photos.

I’ll be on maternity leave soon, and have been creating a list of everything I want to do on leave. Then I also planned out every day of my leave (minus weekends) and assigned the various projects to those days. Lol. I’ve given myself probably 4-5 hours of “work” to do each day. The rest of my time will probably be spent reading books (both baby related and not) and watching Netflix. I think I’ve given myself enough things to do so that I don’t feel like I’m just going to be in my head all day, but also haven’t overextended myself. This is also just for my leave before Steam Bun arrives. I’m scared to think about my leave after Steam Bun arrives, both for if he lives and if he doesn’t. It’s hard to imagine a maternity leave with a living baby, and yet I don’t want to think about spending another maternity leave without a living baby.


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Monday Randoms

I have a couple of hummingbird feeders in our backyard. I took them down during the winter, with all of the rain and storms we were getting. I just put them back up a week ago. Almost immediately, the hummingbirds returned (there’s one using the feeder right now actually). Having them back is so nice, and seeing them brought a brief smile to my face. And then I remembered: Theo will never see this. I should be showing Theo the hummingbirds. I would probably have to shush him, so he wouldn’t scare them away. He would probably want to be taken outside so he could chase the hummingbirds and try to catch one. He’ll never experience this, and I’ll never experience watching him discover more of this world. I’ll never see him get excited about bugs or nature or jumping in puddles. I hopefully will get to experience this with Steam Bun, and I’ll be so happy if I do, but it won’t be enough. I don’t mean that to sound awful–we love Steam Bun just as much as we love Theo, but instead of experiencing two of everything like I should, I may only get to experience one.

As I type this, I’m listening to the neighborhood kids playing outside. They’re mostly boys, doing boy things. And Theo will never be joining them in their play.

Last week was my birthday. My birthday last year was awful. It was my first birthday after Theo died, and the last thing I wanted was for it to be acknowledged. Having my birthday come around felt like a huge slap in the face; I was getting older and “celebrating” my birthday when Theo never will. He will forever be just 30 hours old. I got to work early that day because I wanted to take down any birthday decorations my coworkers had put on my desk. Not out of spite, but because I knew there was no way I would be able to spend the day staring at birthday decorations. Fortunately, it turns out my coworkers had forgotten my birthday, which they felt terrible about but I was so, so, so happy for it to be forgotten.

This year wasn’t as bad. It still sucked, but I wasn’t as against having my birthday acknowledged. I wasn’t super eager for it to be celebrated, but I was more numb to the pain of having my birthday when Theo would never. I only got a few calls and texts this year, which I was relieved about. I don’t care if people forgot or psychically figured out I was hesitant about my birthday being recognized, either way I’m happy for the lack of hoopla. This weekend I did have a few people over for a “party”. It wasn’t really a birthday party, but more like a “let’s hang out this weekend, and oh by the way my birthday was a few days ago”.

I feel like the clock reset on my birthdays after Theo died. I turned 1 last year, and 2 this year, instead of my actual age. All time has been reset after Theo died.

Today I had lunch with the rep for one of our vendors at work. I got to put into practice my new rule of trying to let go of stupid and hurtful comments from people who don’t matter to me. I think I did pretty well, her comments stung but I tried to move on from them. She also tried to touch my belly which is just so inappropriate in general–even if Theo had lived, no way in hell would I be comfortable with her touching my belly. I won’t be seeing her again for a long time, and ultimately she doesn’t matter in my life. She’s not someone I’m close to or someone’s whose advice I seek out, so her opinions of my family don’t matter.

**Trigger warning**

I had a doctor’s appointment today. This wasn’t a standard one, but rather a “I’m feeling paranoid and need everything to be checked out” appointment. Last weekend I went to L&D again, this time for decreased movements. So I made an appointment for today because I just had to have Steam Bun looked at again. Fortunately, he was fine last week and is still doing fine. The comments of “you look so tiny!” are still really hard to deal with, it’s hard to hear when you have a child who died of developmental issues, because my mind immediately goes there when I hear these things.

The back pain and RLP was so bad today I wanted to cry. I don’t want to walk for the rest of the pregnancy. Rolling over in bed hurts and getting out of bed hurts, I just want to lie down and not move until Steam Bun’s arrival. Hopefully tomorrow the pain will be better.


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Prepping for a living child

Is terrifying and exciting. It feels like we’re jinxing ourselves–like how dare we be so presumptuous to assume we will have a living, healthy baby at the end of this. And the more we prep, the more we’ll have to undo if he doesn’t live. But at the same time, if we don’t, it’s like we’re admitting defeat before the results are in. Either way just sucks for us.

Thursday we bought the car seat and stroller. We went to Buy Buy Baby, which is a PTSD minefield. The last time we were there was when we returned Theo’s car seat and stroller a couple of weeks after he died. Going there to buy the car seat and stroller felt like we were forgetting about Theo. It sucked so much, but I didn’t start crying until we were back in the car. Fortunately, since we went on a Thursday night, there were few people in the store and we were able to get in and out in about 15 minutes. We bought a different brand than we did for Theo, as buying the same would have felt so wrong. We opted to buy these from the store instead of Amazon as I wanted to “test drive” the stroller I picked out.

The strollers were located right next to the section of baby and pregnancy keepsakes (like the monthly chalkboards, etc.). and it sucked so much to walk past all of that. I had planned out the monthly photos we would take to show how Theo was growing. But what do I actually take monthly photos of? A tree. And it will forever just be a tree. Last night brought up a lot of emotions. Our first time in BBB we were creating the registry for Theo and we were so excited, we had a lot of fun looking at everything and pointing out all the weird pregnancy and baby things they sell. This time, it was like we were keeping our heads down to avoid seeing everything around us.

I bought the wall decal for Steam Bun’s room, and even managed to bring in the decor items we bought from IKEA about a month ago (maybe longer?). They’ve been sitting in the trunk of our car since we bought them, but they are now in the house. In a couple of weeks I’ll buy the baby monitor and the rest of the nursery decor. I’m really torn on when I should start removing Theo’s decal and installing Steam Bun’s. I want to wait until I’m on leave…but it’s a little physically intensive taking down/putting up a floor-to-ceiling wall decal and I’m not sure how much physical activity I want to do when I’m that far along. Blergh. Ultimately I’ll be putting Theo’s decal on one of the walls of the playroom/library, but I’m not sure when I’ll get to that.

I’m going on maternity leave soon, and was talking with a coworker about a few things she’ll handle while I’m gone. She commented “I’m so jealous of you! You will get a few weeks of peace and quiet, all to yourself. Must be nice!”.

Though I know she didn’t mean it this way, all I could think was “Yeah, my life is awesome. My house is deafeningly quiet because my oldest is dead. Who wouldn’t be jealous of me?”. I didn’t reply to her remark, just directed the conversation back to preparing her for my leave.

I’m looking forward to maternity leave because it’s a break from work, and I know I am getting burnt out. But at the same time, I am also dreading it. I will be home all day by myself, with no Theo to look after and enjoy, in a quiet house and little to do. I feel like I should reread those infant care/development books we have, as I’m fairly certain I’ve forgotten everything I learned before Theo was born about what medicines babies need, etc. I’m creating a list of everything I should do while on leave, but I have maybe two weeks’ worth of tasks to keep me busy. The rest of the time it will just be me and my thoughts…

And in other work news, the pregnant coworker who had the baby shower last week is apparently 38 weeks pregnant. I know this, not because I asked her, but because a different coworker sought me out to tell me she ran into pregnant coworker in the bathroom and pregnant coworker looks like she’s going to pop! She’s so big, and she’s got that pregnant waddle, it’s so funny!

I just stared at this coworker and walked away. I’m sure when pregnant coworker has her kid, an email will go out to everyone with a picture and the baby stats. Unfortunately, I will not be gone by that point, so I’ll be having to deal with those emails. I’m surprised the baby pool emails have started yet, usually by this point someone starts a pool for everyone to place bets on the baby’s size, birthdate, etc. (Or, maybe the pool has started but they’ve left me off the emails? That would be nice!)

Blah.


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Theo’s Party and Steam Bun *U/S pic in post*

p1030097The belated birthday party we threw for Theo went really well! We ended up raising $1,867 for UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital!

I am so glad we had the party. We had a lot of fun, and it was so good to see our friends gathered celebrating Theo. Such a good reminder that they still love and think about Theo.

The color s of the party were yellow and gray, Theo’s nursery colors. I had an p1030098Italian soda station, a hot chocolate station, and an Italian restaurant did the catering. The cake was from Costco, and I picked a baseball theme cake as I know Kenny was so looking forward to teaching Theo baseball. We played board games and held a raffle and had a photo backdrop set up for pictures. The backdrop was the only thing that incorporated Steam Bun into the party–I made it out of yellow, gray, and navy blue tulle. Gray and navy blue are Steam Bun’s nursery colors. The backdrop is of both my boys.

I brought Theo bear to the party, and everyone sang happy birthday to Theo while Kenny and I were holding Theo bear. I almost cried at this point, but that was the only time during the party I was sad. A friend and loss mom asked if they could take a picture with Theo bear, which just melted my heart.

p1030100I’m also so relieved we waited to have this party. If we had pushed ourselves to do it around his actual birthday, I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself. But I had fun, even though it was 2.5 months after his actual birthday. I see a lot of loss moms doing wonderful things in memory of their children–fundraisers, RAK, etc. and sometimes I’ve wondered why I “wasn’t there” yet. Especially as a Christian–shouldn’t I be pushing myself to help others in honor of Theo? This party helped me realize that I have to go at my own pace, and I’m so, so glad I didn’t push myself to do this fundraiser before. I think I would have felt a little bitter and resentful if I had done it earlier, and that would do p1030104nobody any good. (Not a criticism of those who do these things right away, just sorting out some feelings of guilt I had on not doing that earlier.)

On Sunday we had the 3D/HD ultrasound of Steam Bun. He looks so much like Theo and Kenny. Just like everything else, it’s both a good and bad thing. I love feeling like I was looking at Theo when I saw Steam Bun, and that they will have that connection. But I also felt some pain, it’s a reminder of what I won’t get with Theo and a small part of me worried that I won’t be able to separate the two in the future.

Steam Bun was being his usual stubborn self and we couldn’t get any photos of him without the cord in his face. He was chewing (well, not chewing since he doesn’t have teeth but chomping? sucking?) on the cord and playing with it, and that freaked me out. It was both cute and made me laugh, but also concerning to me. I asked the tech if she could see if the cord was wrapped around his neck, and she said she wasn’t allowed to confirm anything like that as that is classified as diagnostic but that she would try to get me a good look at his neck so I could see for myself. Fortunately Steam Bun soon moved his head around, and I could see his neck was fine. We saw Steam Bun moving a lot. He also had his feet in his face for a little bit, and his wrinkly feet looked so much like Theo’s. We go back in a week and a half to try to get better photos.

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Comparing the pregnancies and other things

**Trigger warning**

I had my regular appointment yesterday. It went pretty well. We pushed our second anatomy scan back a couple of weeks, my dr wants Steam Bun to be a little bigger when the scan is done. I’ll have a growth scan done at the same time, and I think that will be the last growth scan unless something is off. After the scan, I’ll be having regular NSTs. And then Steam Bun will be here, hopefully healthy. My fluid levels have been checked at almost every appointment, and so far they are looking good.

I’ve been having constant headaches the past couple of weeks, which didn’t really concern me but I brought it up with my doctor anyway. She said that can be a sign of preeclampsia, but my blood pressure is fine and there’s no protein in my urine. But I still need to monitor my blood pressure myself until my next appointment, and if it starts going up to come in right away. A loss mom mentioned that baby aspirin can help prevent preeclampsia, so I emailed my doctor about it and she ok’d me going on it.

I also talked to her about putting a sign on my door that lets everyone know what’s going on. She said that’s fine, she’ll let me put up whatever sign I want. The practice doesn’t have a sign already made, so I’ll be making one. It will be pretty basic and say something like “This patient has experienced child loss. It’s ok to ask about her oldest, but please be sensitive. Expect her to cry, but it’s not a bad thing if she cries”. My OB will be the one performing the c-section, and she assured me she will let everyone involved know what is going on. I don’t really care if I cry in front of all of the doctors and nurses, but people feel awkward when I start crying and then they feel like they can’t bring Theo up. I want them to bring Theo up, so they need to know it’s ok to still talk about him even if I cry. I kind of wish I could carry this sign around with me everyday “Ask about my dead son. I may cry, but I still want you to ask”.

At my next appointment we’ll be going over the “birth plan” in more detail. Do we want to hold Steam Bun right away (provided he’s not showing signs of distress)? Do we want them to examine Steam Bun before we hold him? Who will be in the OR beside my OB, etc. Obviously the ultimate birth plan is to have a living, healthy baby and life-saving measures take priority over everything else, but things were so rushed and chaotic with Theo that we never got the time we should have with him. We missed out on things that should have been offered to us by the hospitals, and so our birth plan with Steam Bun will include what we want done if he is in distress, has the same condition as Theo, etc. We’re making plans for both a healthy baby and a sick baby.

Kenny and I have been comparing this pregnancy to the one with Theo since the beginning, but especially lately.

Physically, my pregnancy with Theo could not have gone smoother. Textbook pregnancy, and I had the usual complaints.

This one has been different since the beginning. At my first appointment my dr said I had a subchorionic hematoma (SCH). It fortunately was less than 3 cm, but she still recommended I not exercise until it cleared up. Which it did at 10 weeks. Not being able to exercise for those first few weeks got me out of my routine, and it’s been hard to get back to regular exercise since.

And then a few weeks later, there were sugars in my urine, so I had the 1 hr glucose test, which I failed. I passed the 3 hr test though, and have had no issues with sugars since. I was still eating healthy the majority of the time at this point, so I know it wasn’t my diet that was causing this issue. Never had any issues with sugars while pregnant with Theo.

Theo and Steam Bun have proven to be incredibly stubborn babies during scans, though I think Theo was more stubborn. He would not move out of his position if he was comfortable, whereas Steam Bun will at least move briefly, but he usually moves back to his spot pretty quick. With both Theo and Steam Bun, I’ve had to had some scans multiple times so the techs can get all of the images they need.

The heartburn started earlier in the pregnancy this time, but it’s different than with Theo. We’re betting Steam Bun will have a good amount of hair, but not as much as Theo. The back pain started earlier though, and the round ligament pain (RLP) is more intense this time. I’ve also had some pain on my c-section scar, which my dr says is due to the scar being stretched but I’m convinced it’s partly because Steam Bun is kicking the crap out of it.

Which brings me to the biggest differences in the pregnancies: the movements and kicks. Theo was a kicker. He moved around, but he liked his spot and much preferred to just kick and punch me. His favorite spot to kick was my left ribcage, and he would go to town on kicking it throughout the day. Steam Bun is calmer. He likes to squirm around more than kick, though he still kicks a good amount. His favorite spot to kick is my c-section scar.

I’m carrying the babies differently. Theo was higher up, and further back. Steam Bun is sitting lower and in the front.

No matter how old your child is when they die, it’s all horrific and it is not “better” or “easier” to lose your child at birth or 10 years old or 20, etc. But I think a special pain of losing your child before/at/just after birth is that you don’t know their personality. We have brief glimpses of their personalities while they were still in utero, but that can only tell you so much about them.

Kenny and I have talked a lot about who we think Theo would have become. We’ve decided he would have been the “brawn” of the family. Theo would have been very athletic, Kenny used to joke he was practicing karate in utero and we would joke about how Theo would never walk–he would go straight from crawling to running, and he would never stop once he started. He would have been smart, but he would have enjoyed physical activities more than anything else and would have been outgoing and very energetic. With Steam Bun being so much calmer in terms of kicks and movements, we think he’s going to be less hyper and more observant. More brainy or artsy than athletic. We joke how Steam Bun will blame Theo for the trouble he gets into.

You know how they talk about how birth order affects personality? That oldest children have certain personality traits, only children are different than those with siblings, etc? Steam Bun is our second child and the baby of the family. We’re probably done after Steam Bun, regardless if he lives or dies. But… Steam Bun in a weird way is also the oldest of the family and the only child. I mean, Theo will always be his big brother and we’re going to raise Steam Bun to know his big brother, but in a lot of ways Steam Bun will be an only child. And so I wonder how that will affect his personality. Will he have the personality traits of “the baby” of the family? Or will he be more like the stereotypical older/only child? I kind of want to see if anyone’s done research on this… how does the death of an older sibling affect the personality of the younger children?

I’ve noticed that my pregnancy with Steam Bun has been very cyclical: period of bonding/optimism for the pregnancy, followed by a period of fear and withdraw, then repeat. Right now I would say Kenny and I are entering a period of bonding/optimism. It’s so scary to be bonding with Steam Bun, I hope we are not hurt at the end.


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Visualizing

Now that I’m in the third tri, I realized I’m *actually* going to have to go to L&D at some point to have Steam Bun.

I knew that before, but I always kind of shrugged it off. Or told myself I would deal with that later.

Well, later is now and now I have to deal with this reality.

I went to L&D once a few weeks ago when I thought my amniotic fluid was leaking, but fortunately they only kept me in triage and didn’t actually admit me. That was hard enough, I had to walk by the room where I was in triage before having Theo.

But when it comes time to have Steam Bun, I will actually be admitted to L&D, I will have to go into an OR again, and stay in one of the recovery rooms before being moved to the room where you stay post-birth. This is me at that thought:

nope

I can picture every detail of my 28-hour labor and the c-section so clearly. I remember each nurse and doctor, I can easily tell you which rooms I was in. I remember what the OR looks like so perfectly, and the hallway leading to the OR. And thinking about any of it just makes me want to cry.

So I’m spending some time visualizing the hospital. Hoping that if I picture it often enough, I’ll be triggered less when I go to L&D? I don’t want to go on one of the group hospital tours, but I’m thinking I’ll ask my OB if she and I (and Kenny) can do a walk through together to get used to being in the same place again. The blessing and curse of a scheduled c-section is you know *exactly* when it will be taking place. I won’t be wondering how much longer it will be until we meet him, but at the same time I will know exactly how much time we have until we are greeted with a healthy baby or a sick baby.

I’ve also been trying hard to think about what it will be like to meet Steam Bun alive and healthy. To hear him cry, which we never got with Theo. Maybe if I trick myself into only expecting the good when I go into L&D it won’t be so hard? I’m not sure how successful that will be…once you know child loss you can’t unknow it, so it will always be in the back of my mind that we may be walking out empty handed again.

I plan on asking my OB if the hospital has a sign they can place on my door that lets all doctors and nurses know I’m having a “rainbow baby” or that I’ve lost a child. I don’t like the term rainbow baby and have avoided using it so far, but I know it’s something that the doctors and nurses in my practice are used to, so it’s the easiest way to let them know about my loss history. So far all of the doctors and nurses I’ve encountered have been really good about reading my chart and seeing that Theo died, but I’ve heard enough stories from loss moms where this does not happen and I want to avoid being in that situation.

 

Fucking PTSD.


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Baby Shower, Car, and Third Trimester

Yesterday was just a blah day.

A coworker had her work baby shower in the conference room at lunch. My cube is directly across from the conference room. I work from home most days, but as my luck would have it, there was a meeting I had to be in the office for yesterday.

So I leave for work, and stop at a coffee shop for my daily bagel and hot chocolate. I get back to my car and it won’t start. It sounds like it’s trying to start, but it never actually turns over and just shakes and makes weird sounds. I try it a few times, and I’m about to call AAA when on the 5th or 6th try it finally starts. Fortunately, my mechanic is right by my office (I can see my mechanic from my office), so I text a coworker that I’m running late and drive to the mechanic first. I walk to work.

The meeting I had was over before the baby shower started, and I was really hoping to leave then and finish my day at home, but my car wasn’t ready. So I put my head phones in, turned up the volume, and did my best to ignore everyone and the shower. The conference room was already decorated for her shower, so every time I looked up from my desk I saw baby stuff. And of course, everyone was talking about babies and who was going to be pregnant next, how cute babies are, etc.

There was a potluck set up in the conference for the shower, which I did not attend. I couldn’t bring myself to go into the conference room, and I also didn’t bring anything for the potluck since I was not intending to be at the office at lunch time. Someone did leave me a piece of red velvet cake though, which was nice.

I don’t begrudge the coworker for having a shower, but I just wish I hadn’t been included or had a way to easily escape it all. There’s been so many emails the last week about this shower (don’t forget this Friday is the baby shower! Sign up for the potluck for the baby shower! 15 minutes until the shower starts! etc.), and I’ve hated seeing every one of them. Being trapped at work didn’t help, and essentially forced to be around a baby shower. It also didn’t help I was asked multiple times if I was going to join the shower or grab food. So it was a triggering day.

The mechanic didn’t find anything wrong with my car, he said he started it about 50 times and didn’t have any issues. He’s a good mechanic, and I trust him, so I’m crossing my fingers and hoping my car was just being pissy. Kenny said the car is acting out because it knows I’m replacing it next year (with a Tesla. So excited!). He’s probably right, when I called Kenny to let him know what was going on, I told him I would be so pissed if this car needed to be replaced now or we had to spend a lot of money to fix it right before I got my Tesla.

My ten-year high school reunion is coming up this summer. I can’t believe it’s already time for that. I will not be going, it’s too close to Steam Bun’s due date for us to make it. I’m honestly relieved I have that excuse, the thought of going to my reunion makes me want to cry. Having to listen to people talk about their happy families, having to explain mine over and over again… no, it doesn’t sound enjoyable at all. The people important to me from high school stay up to date on my life, and vice versa. 

**Trigger warning**

 

I had a major realization this morning. I am in the third trimester. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I mean, I know how far along I am but I’ve just been thinking about it in terms of weeks, and for me to suddenly realize, oh hey it’s the third trimester! threw me for a loop.

My first thought was, ohmygod, we have so much left to do! I’ve been keeping a list of what we need to buy/do before Steam Bun’s birth in my phone, and suddenly it seemed so daunting. I have only a few months to get it all done. What the hell. I woke Kenny up in a panic, and began rattling off everything we had to do, tallying up how much we are going to spend over the next few months… and Kenny promptly fell right back to sleep.

February is Theo’s month. We have his party in less than two weeks (ahhhh!), so I’m going shopping today to buy the last of what we need for that. It’s so bittersweet buying things for this party. It’s fun and I love that people are willing to come and celebrate Theo’s (belated) first birthday with us, but I also hate it. This isn’t how life should be, and I will forever hate it for that reason. March will be dedicated to buying everything we need for Steam Bun and his nursery, and April will be dedicated to putting it all together. We also have our maternity photos in March, and I need to buy an outfit for that. We’re including our Theo Bear in the photos.

We decided officially against a baby shower, but we will be doing the 3D/4D ultrasound. We have everything we need for Steam Bun (minus a car seat, stroller, and Owlet baby monitor), so a baby shower seems pointless. Those who have asked what we need/want, I’m simply telling them diapers or clothes for Steam Bun. I do want to use some of Theo’s clothes for Steam Bun, but I’m not really sure how much I’ll be able to handle that so I’m hoping having a mix of Theo’s clothes and new clothes for Steam Bun will help me cope. And since we’re not having a baby shower, doing the 3D/4D ultrasound seemed like a good way to celebrate Steam Bun.

I need to make some lactation cookies soon. Right before Theo was due, I bought some brewer’s yeast so I could make these cookies to help make sure my milk supply was good. Even though I pumped for a month after he died, I never used the few cookies I made in advance, nor did I use any more of the brewer’s yeast. And the brewer’s yeast expires next month, so I think I’ll make a large batch of cookie dough to freeze in case I need it.

There’s also the dreaded hospital bag. I can’t bring myself to really think about preparing the hospital bag for more than a couple minutes at a time, and I certainly can’t bring myself to actually get it ready. The last hospital bag I prepared was me throwing some clothes for Kenny and myself in a suitcase right before we left for San Francisco. Right before everything came crashing down and what hope we had was shattered. I can’t do it. I can’t prepare another hospital bag. All I care about having with me is my digital camera, to ensure I get good photos of Steam Bun in case the worst happens again. Everything else… I don’t care or we can probably find in the hospital gift shop. Maybe I’ll task Kenny with getting the bag ready.


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Knowing when you don’t know

**Trigger warning**

Had a bit of a scare today. Steam Bun barely moved for almost 2 hours. I text my church group and a couple of loss moms, and got in the car to go to L&D. Fortunately Steam Bun started moving again when we got in the car, and his movements all day have been fairly regular.

I opted not to go to L&D once he started moving again, though I do have an appointment this week. His movements for the rest of the day have been pretty typical, slightly less in the strength of his kicks and movements, though I’ve been told that’s not something to really worry about.

So it’s been a stressful day. And it ended with me crying to Kenny. Did I make the right decision to not go into L&D? What if something happens and it could have been prevented by me simply going in? For the first time in the whole pregnancy, I really wished I had a doppler so I could hear his heartbeat. Because, honestly, if I had gone in to L&D, they would have checked his heartbeat and done an ultrasound and then send me on my way.

I’m on such edge in this pregnancy. How do I know what’s best for Steam Bun when I never knew how sick Theo was? How can I trust my body, my doctors after Theo? I should know what’s best for Steam Bun, but I can’t trust that I do because I never knew just how sick Theo was. How can I be a good mom when Theo died and I had no idea he was so sick?

Where’s that line between being paranoid and knowing when something is actually wrong?

As I type this, Steam Bun is kicking like he normally does. Maybe he was in a bad position to feel kicks, maybe he was just napping earlier. Maybe he’s just trying to make me go insane to prepare me for the hell he’ll cause when he’s here. Lol.