Holding Our Angel

Loving After Loss


2 Comments

Breathing

Sometimes, just breathing is an accomplishment.

Officially diagnosed with PPD (who’s surprised? Bueller?) and I’m on medications. It will take a few weeks for the meds to take full effect. Kenny is very relieved I’m finally on meds, I think he was starting to feel a little helpless in dealing with my emotions. Can’t say I blame him too much for that, my emotions have been rather intense lately.

Artie wouldn’t take a bottle the last time we tried, so I’m still exclusively breastfeeding. We’re trying a bottle again next week. I think he’ll take it, as I finally got him to accept a pacifier earlier this week (I think it was this week, I have a terrible sense of time right now). I’m really looking forward to Artie using a bottle. I’ll no longer feel trapped at home, like I can’t go too far away in case Artie gets hungry. I do bring him out with me sometimes, but there’s not a lot of places that have convenient nursing areas. The mall and baby stores are just about it. Which really surprised me, considering this is California. 

Artie has been having some reflux. Mostly I feel awful that my baby is in pain and he can’t sleep, though sometimes I feel frustrated at him when we have difficulty putting him to bed. And then the guilt sets in, because I know how much worse it can be and I feel like I should just be grateful he’s alive (which I am!). And then my anxiety kicks in, as I start to imagine Artie dying. Imagine isn’t really the right word though, it’s more like I’m forced to watch a movie of him dying. I can see it happening before me, and I’m helpless to do anything.

A couple of weeks ago, Artie began smiling at us–and not just when he poops. He has such a beautiful smile, I love it. He smiles the most in the mornings, when he gets up for the day. But, like everything else, soon I start to think about how I never got that with Theo. I bet he would have a beautiful smile too, but I can’t say for sure and that kills me.

I think this is what I feel most guilty about–these thoughts of what I’m missing with Theo after everything Artie does. I don’t want to be constantly comparing my kids, and I really don’t want Artie to feel like he’s living in Theo’s shadow. Or that he has to “fix” our grief or be responsible for our happiness. But how can I make sure he doesn’t feel any of that when I’m constantly comparing them?

I found something I think I would like to do with Theo’s clothes. I’m thinking of having a quilt made out of them. I’ve been searching Pinterest for ideas, and I’ve found a few patterns I like. I am so not crafty though–and especially not good at sewing. I think I’m going to see if someone local would be willing to make the quilt for me (for pay of course). I do have some time to find someone-Artie won’t outgrown Theo’s clothes for a few more months at least. Though I’m still unsure how I feel about Artie wearing Theo’s clothes, I at least want that option, hence why I want to wait. 

Artie and I are now officially on Kenny’s insurance (my insurance used to be through my job but it’s considerably cheaper to have the three of us on Kenny’s than to keep us separated now), and Artie saw his new pediatrician today. I was filling out the new patient forms and they asked about siblings. So I wrote Theo’s name and then deceased in paraenthesis right next to it. Though I obviously write that Theo is dead here many times, writing it out in the “real world” was different. I wanted to scratch it out, or more like stab the paper with my pen. I was bracing myself for this part of the form and it was still sucky. 

I’m not sure if I like this pediatrician though. She was very friendly and seems very smart, but I felt rushed through our appointment. Maybe I just got used to getting extra time and attention during my pregnancy, and need to get used to a doctor who is treating us as normal. I don’t know. I wish kenny had been able to come, so I could bounce my impressions off his.  Artie is getting his shots in a couple of weeks, so I’ll see how that appointment goes. 


Leave a comment

Not a clue

Many people, both loss and non-loss friends, have been asking me how the first few postpartum weeks are going.

I honestly have no idea how to answer my non-loss friends.

How can I explain to someone who has not lost their child the complete mind fuck that is postpartum and grief? I don’t even know where to begin, and I get overwhelmed just thinking about it. 

My non-loss friends who are asking me this are the ones who have walked with me this entire time and have listened without judgement, so when they see I’m struggling to answer, they ask if I want to talk about something else. And that’s what I need. 

I had lunch today with a loss mom, and it was like a huge weight was lifted talking to her. Just having someone who can say “yep, I get it” is more comforting than pretty much anything else right now. When I say that a sleeping baby looks like a dead baby, she knows exactly what I mean. 

When I say that I sometimes look at Artie and think that he’s not Theo, she gets it. 

There’s no need to explain what I mean, which is just what I need because I don’t have the capacity right now to explain what I mean. 

This postpartum period is just as rough as the one after Theo, just in an entirely different way. I feel like I’m back at ground zero, wondering what is going on and where to begin. 

Like another loss mom blogged about, I find that when I say I’m tired most assume it’s because I have a newborn. That may be part of it, but mostly I’m exhausted from trying to process and deal with everything, exhausted from walking this shitty path. 

I feel like I’ve been robbed of the joy of parenting. 


1 Comment

Eternal Sunshine

I’ve been thinking a lot about the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It’s a great movie that came out about 13 years ago (jeeze, that feels like forever!). The movie is about a couple that breaks up, and each decides to have a procedure done to erase all memories they have of each other and their relationship. The man, however, starts to realize that he made a mistake in trying to erase the memories as he realizes he still loves her. The movie makes you think: can you really learn from your mistakes and past if you keep erasing those memories? Or are you doomed to repeat your mistakes?

Sometimes it feels like we’re forgetting about Theo. Logically, I know this isn’t possible. You just don’t forget your child, and I never will forget about Theo. But Artie is requiring so much of us right now (and for obviously good reasons!), that we have little time or energy for Theo. Life has gotten in the way a couple of times too–I developed an infection (nothing major, just annoying and inconvenient) and our AC went out at the same time. But there’s so much guilt with not thinking about Theo as much. It feels like we’re replacing him with Artie. If Theo were here, Artie would still be getting a lot of attention, but more than what currently is would be going to Theo.

I think some people see Artie as the equivalent of that procedure to erase memories. Like, now that we have a living child, all the bad that came with losing Theo is undone and has been made right. That our grief is over. But that’s not how it works. We can’t just pretend to be perfectly whole now, we never will be. And if we were to forget the grief from losing Theo, that would mean one of two things: either we forgot about/never had Theo or we don’t love Theo as much as we do. And neither of those are possible, so we accept the grief. You can’t erase the bad without also erasing the good, the two are intertwined.

Mother’s Day was an incredibly emotional day for me, and I spent a large part of it crying. Having Artie here is a hard example of what should have been with Theo. The joy with Artie is all that we should have gotten with Theo, instead of this grief we got. We ended up not doing much for Mother’s Day, which was fine with me. Even if we would have been able to go out, I don’t think I would have been up for seeing all the happy families everywhere.

On Mother’s Day, I got more people wishing me a happy Mother’s Day than last year. It could be because I now have a living child, but I am giving those people the benefit of the doubt. This time last year I wasn’t as open about what I needed from people, and maybe they were unsure of what, if anything, to say. I’m more open and vocal now, so maybe they felt more comfortable reaching out to me because of that. It was sweet they thought of me.

What hurt though, were all the well wishes I got that mentioned Artie but not Theo. Either mention both of my kids or none at all (nothing wrong with a “Happy Mother’s Day!”), but to leave one out hurt like hell. I even got a “Happy first Mother’s Day!”  (emphasis mine). Uh…. my first Mother’s Day was last year….

There was….an incident… involving a recent visitor and Theo. Visitor came to see Artie, and was looking at a photo of Theo we have displayed on a bookcase. There is an empty frame next to Theo’s picture, where a picture of Artie will go. This person  covered up the photo of Theo with the empty frame. Did this without asking, without saying anything at all, just picked up the empty frame and laid it against Theo’s picture so you could no longer see him.

Unacceptable.

I surprised myself with how calmly I told the person to uncover it and not touch the photo again. Guess I’m maturing a little bit (only took 28 years!). Kenny then took over talking to this person, and let him/her know why this was not ok.

But that hurt so much, to have someone come into my home and cover up my son. I’m not ashamed of him. Yes, pictures of babies on life support are hard to look at because who wants to picture a baby dying? But while it makes you uncomfortable to briefly see a photo of a dying child, it is a reality I deal with every second of every day. So fuck that. I will not apologize for my son, for being proud of him, or for keeping him a part of our family. Especially in my own home.

We had the newborn photos done. We used the same photographer who did the maternity photos, and she was incredible again. We incorporated Theo bear and a picture of Theo into some of the photos, just like we would if Theo was actually here. She even got Artie to hold onto the picture of Theo for a few minutes, which was so cute! Turns out the photographer has a good friend who lost a child at birth. She kept making me cry though while we were taking the photos, so I had to retouch my makeup a few times.

Kenny goes back to work in a few days (for a few weeks, then he’s taking more time off). I’m both looking forward to this and dreading this. I’m excited for it to just be Artie and I, and for me to have the chance to work on some projects while he naps. But… it’s also going to just be Artie and I during the day. No Kenny to take over when I need a break. We’ve been talking about me becoming a stay at home mom, so this will be a trial run to see if I like it/can do it. Me staying home will require some sacrifices too, so that’s something we have to consider.

I am going to say something I feel a little guilty about: I hate breastfeeding. It’s technically going well, I have no issues with my supply or his latch or anything like that. But I hate it. It’s exhausting and I feel trapped at home because I have to always be available to Artie when he’s hungry. So I decided to stop and try exclusively pumping. We’ll be switching Artie to formula for a couple of days while I get used to pumping and build up a supply. And if this doesn’t work, we’ll be doing all formula.

Every June, the hospital where Theo died holds a remembrance ceremony for babies and children who died there. This year, it falls during Kenny’s second round of paternity leave. I haven’t decided if we’ll be going. It would be so nice to go, this may be our only chance since they hold it on a week night and the hospital is 2 hours from us. And taking Artie would be so bittersweet. But…. I don’t know. I have a few days before I have to RSVP, hopefully I can make up my mind.

Here’s a funny video on PPD.


1 Comment

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.


Leave a comment

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.


2 Comments

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.


Leave a comment

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.


1 Comment

Big Steps

I have a Barnes & Noble credit card, and they send you a gift card once you get a certain number of points. Since Theo died, I’ve used every B&N gift card to buy books on grief and child loss. Until this week that is. I got my gift card and I bought two cookbooks with it. There’s still some books on child loss that I want to buy, but I have a few books I already own that I haven’t read yet, so I decided to buy something fun with the gift card. It feels strange. If you look at my Amazon wishlist of books, you’ll notice a clear divide in the books I added pre- and post-Theo’s death. Even if you didn’t know my story, you would be able to guess I lost a child around that time just based on the wishlist. I’m not sure what this means for my grief journey, but it feels like it means something.

**Trigger warning**

*

There’s also been some big steps in the pregnancy.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked my doctor to prescribe me something for heartburn. I had horrible heartburn with Theo (and he was born with a full head of hair, proving the old wives tale true for me at least), and popped Tums like they were candy. The Tums helped, but not enough. I started getting heartburn around 13 weeks this time, and finally had enough and asked for something stronger than Tums. This may seem like nothing major, but it is a huge step for me. I hate taking medications in general, but that increased even more after Theo died.

We had our fetal echocardiogram this week and it went well. It took forever though because Steam Bun is officially the most stubborn baby in the world. He was in a bad position for a lot of the scan (like every other scan), and I ended up being there for sooo long.

I’m not done with the scans though: at 30 weeks I will have a second anatomy scan, and our perinatologist will make a decision at that point if we need a fetal MRI or not. Our doctor warned us that he’s going to recommend NOT doing an MRI unless he sees something very wrong on the 30 week scan. Lungs cannot be seen on an ultrasound, hence the possibility of an MRI. But fetal MRIs to check lung development is still new enough, and our doctor has seen cases where doctors overanalyze the MRI and make a recommendation that ends up hurting the mom and baby more than necessary. I get his reasoning, and a large part of me agrees with him. Kenny and I went into the pregnancy knowing *if* Steam Bun has the same genetic condition, there’s nothing we can do. But we both started the pregnancy wanting to know as much as possible, so we can make certain arrangements in advance if necessary. Though now, the farther along I get, the more we’re both changing our minds. We haven’t swung completely to the other side, but we’re on the fence now. We’ll probably be relieved (for multiple reasons) if the doctor recommends skipping the MRI.

We are also past the point of viability. I was not expecting to be relieved by this, but I did breathe a small sigh of relief once we made it to that point. Not because this means it is more likely that Steam Bun will live, but because if I were to go into preterm labor that cannot be stopped (knock on wood), the doctors will perform life-saving measures if Steam Bun were to be born now. That made me feel better: knowing everything will be done now to save Steam Bun’s life.

But… now I have to keep track of my “kick counts”. And I am stressing so much at how much he is and isn’t moving. But more than that, I am worrying that I won’t recognize when he stops moving. I’m getting used to his kicks–I feel them, but they’ve become second nature if that makes sense. And I only seem to notice when he is NOT kicking, as opposed to when he is. The app that was recommended to me is certainly helping, and I like using it. I don’t let myself use it everyday though, because I can see myself get a little obsessive about it. So my plan (for now, may or may not change) is to use the app about 3-4 times a week, logging as many kicks as possible. The other 3-4 days I plan on doing “hourly check-ins”: every hour make sure I feel some movement, maybe logging kicks to compare to a different day’s kicks. Ugh. I am stressing so much about these kick counts. I wish I could just enjoy the kicks, and not worry about when he is and isn’t kicking.

I’m debating if I should do one of those 3D/4D ultrasounds. I googled to see how many are in my area, and there is a highly rated one a few miles away from our house. And because we live in the age of Google, alllllll of my ads immediately became ads for these ultrasound places. I just love seeing these ultrasounds whenever I go online. </sarcasm> I wrote down the info of the place not far from me, in case I decide to do this. I didn’t get one for Theo, and that’s why I’m so hesitant to do this for Steam Bun. I wish I did one for Theo, just to have more pictures. And if anything should happen to Steam Bun, I will probably regret not doing this. But… Theo was an accident and Steam Bun wasn’t. And I have a lot of guilt over how I initially reacted to finding out I was pregnant with Theo. I constantly wonder if he would have lived if I had a different reaction, or worry I didn’t love him enough. And so, I feel like I need to do the same things for Steam Bun that I did for Theo: to show that I love them the same. It’s crazy I know, but it is what it is.

I had a long cry the other night with Kenny. It kills me to see women embracing their pregnancies and being so happy about them. I want that SO bad. I want that joy. But I can’t have it. It’s just not that easy, though I wish it was. I can’t just make myself that carefree and happy about pregnancy, no matter how much I wish I could. Sometimes I wonder if Theo’s condition had been diagnosed before he was born, would that make this pregnancy easier? Would it be easier for me to accept this pregnancy is going well and accept good news from the doctors, if I hadn’t heard the same for Theo? I doubt it, but I still wonder.

We have a lot of people asking us about baby showers. And I have no idea how I feel about that. One friend suggested we just do a casual BBQ thing instead of a shower, just to celebrate Steam Bun so far. I like that idea more than any other idea. Emotions are complicated. Lol.

And finally, I’ve been planning Steam Bun’s nursery, which both kills me and is fun. And I feel guilty that I find it fun. We’re going with gray and navy, and owls/woodland theme. The nursery stuff we bought at IKEA a few weeks ago is still sitting in my car trunk, I can’t bring them inside yet. I don’t think I’m going to buy anything else for Steam Bun until after Theo’s party in February. Come March 1st, I’ll buy everything at once to give myself enough time to slowly work on the nursery before Steam Bun’s birth.


3 Comments

We found out

**Trigger warning**

We found out several weeks ago that Steam Bun is a boy.

Finding out wasn’t nearly as exciting the first time. We both reacted like someone had told us our shoelaces were untied.

As the weeks have gone on, we’ve gotten a little excited about having another boy. Knowing Steam Bun is a boy has certainly helped us get more attached to him and personify him. We even discussed names too. We started talking about everything we would do with him. We waited until we had some time to adjust to having another boy before slowly telling people the news.

Knowing Steam Bun is a boy is a double-edged sword (but really, what isn’t in life after loss??). Though there is nothing about Theo’s genetic condition that led our doctors to believe it would only affect boys, there was a small part of me that thought if Steam Bun was a girl, she couldn’t have Theo’s genetic condition. That false hope gave me a sense of peace and slightly calmed my anxiety early in the pregnancy.

Now that we know Steam Bun is a boy and we are getting attached, it’s scary. We were both very detached from the pregnancy in the beginning, as a coping mechanism for our fear (and are still somewhat detached honestly). Though our brains knew that being detached wouldn’t make another child of ours dying hurt less, our hearts weren’t there yet. So finding out Steam Bun is a boy turned it from a “theoretical pregnancy” to a “holy shit, there’s a real live baby inside me right now”. Which was, and still is, terrifying.

There’s also a huge worry of how much Steam Bun will look like Theo. If they look too similar, how hard will that be on us? How will we feel if they don’t look enough alike? Will we confuse Theo with Steam Bun, and treat Steam Bun like he is the child who died? And with them being so close in age, we fear people will think Steam Bun is a replacement for Theo, and forget all about Theo. I’m not going to lie, sometimes I think this last part is already happening, though it’s hard to say if that’s what is really going on or if I’m just overly sensitive to this because Theo isn’t here. This was the biggest reason I put off telling people we are having another boy–I don’t want them to think of Steam Bun as a replacement.

We booked our maternity photos this week. We are using the same photographer who did our photos with Theo. I’m nervous about the photoshoot. I know I’ll regret not doing the photos, but it’s still scary. Like we are jinxing ourselves. I thought about going with another photographer just to change it up, but then the new photographer would ask all of these questions that I didn’t want to answer. So I went with the original photographer, and when I emailed her I mentioned that Theo died. Her reaction was perfect–all she said was she was so sorry for our loss and she would keep this baby in her thoughts and prayers. Brief and sincere, without any meaningless platitude.

The weekend ended up being very baby filled too. We had an additional scan to get more images of Steam Bun’s heart, and then went to IKEA to get a couple of things for his nursery. These were also not as fun as they should’ve been. It was just so bittersweet, Theo should have been there with us helping us pick out things for Steam Bun. And in the back of our heads, we couldn’t help but think that there is a chance all of this is pointless and Steam will never use any of it, and then we have to once again begin the painful process of taking down the nursery. But not having a nursery for Steam Bun would also be difficult for me, I would feel so guilty that I didn’t do for Steam Bun what I did for Theo.

(Because I’m having a dumb moment, I published this post and then accidentally deleted it, so here it is again. Lol.)

 


5 Comments

Questions and Pregnancy After Loss

So I “announced” at work the other week.

I sent everyone in my department an email letting them know I am pregnant, but that I do not want to talk about the pregnancy. I gave them the rough dates of my maternity leave (exact dates will be determined later) and told them I will bring it up if I want to talk about the pregnancy.

I am seriously dreading though emailing HR and asking for all of the paperwork for maternity leave. While I was on leave last year (11/13/15 was the first day of maternity leave for me for Theo, which is such a mind fuck knowing that very soon I’ll be hitting my due date and then the last day I was pregnant and… just ugh), my company was merged with another company, and now we form a new company. This new company has different policies on maternity leave… hopefully to my advantage, though I’m not sure.

If I go back to work and this baby lives… how the hell am I going to be able to talk about this baby?

Seriously…. when people have babies (who live) at my work, an announcement email is sent around saying “Baby Blahblah is here! 105 lbs, 1,000 oz on July 45th”. A pool is started a few weeks before the coworker’s due date on when the baby will arrive, size, etc.

I don’t want those emails to go out regarding this pregnancy, but it’s just going to come across as unfriendly (to say the least) if I don’t offer any information on this baby. It’s not like I can return to work and pretend I never had a baby, that the baby is alive… Questions will be asked, and I’ll be expected to answer at least some of them. And it sucks because these are questions I will never be able to answer about Theo. Everyone will ask when I’ll bring the baby in for them to see, ask for pictures of the baby… which they never did for Theo. (While I obviously understand why they didn’t ask when I would bring Theo in, it bugs me to no end when people don’t ask for pictures of Theo. Ask!) How will I handle these questions? Will I want to show off this baby, talk about this baby all the time? Will I try not to talk about this baby too much?

And then there’s the can of worms of how much I’ll worry about what others think about how much I do or do not talk about this baby. (Hi! I’m crazy and over analyze everything as much as possible. Welcome to my mind!) And of course, I’ll over analyze what I think this baby thinks of how much I talk about him/her and if s/he feels loved.

I am hiding the pregnancy as much as I can, clothes-wise. I don’t want to deal with the questions from complete strangers about the pregnancy. That was fun with Theo, so not looking forward to those questions now. I can imagine the conversation now:

“Is this your first?”

“No.”

“Where’s your oldest?”

“Dead.”

*person runs away*

There will be a day that I can’t hide the pregnancy any more, at some point I will look pregnant and strangers will ask about it.

It kind of panics me to have to talk about this with friends/family, but not as much. Because I know if I’m having a rough day, I can say “Nope, not talking about that right now” and they will understand.

On a different note, about a month and a half ago I got this card from the funeral home where Theo is buried. It was the shape of a thank you card, so obviously not a bill, and I put it in my “do not want to deal with now” pile of junk. Today I finally tackled some of that pile, including the card. It was a card stating the funeral home is doing a memorial for all who are buried there on December 11th, and they wanted to know if I wanted a free ornament engraved with Theo’s name. Response was required by November 11th. Oops. I filled it out and popped it into the mail today. I probably won’t get the ornament, but it is so sweet of the funeral home to offer, and now I know for next year.

I think I need a nap, way too much thinking and worrying being done. Actually, what I need is some yoga.