Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Future

Tomorrow I go back to the doctor for my 6 week check up. Hopefully she will give me the "ok" to head back to work next week and to resume my life as I once knew it.  I should be able to do physical activity again and lift things again and be an active member of society again.  To celebrate, my BFF and I are going to head to the beach on Thursday and walk the boards and feel the sun on our faces and probably talk about our feelings till our mouths are dry!  My mom is taking the day off on Friday so that we can spend it together - there will be lunch, shopping, hopefully some laughter - all the kinds of things I hope to do with my daughter some day.

Which leads me to my next thought - how do I plan for the next child when I so desperately want the one I just had?  6 weeks is long enough to go back to work and to take road trips, but it surely is not enough to mourn a child.  But what is?  6 months?  6 years?  6 decades?  I know it my heart that planning for the future is a good thing and that if Allie was here, she would want only the best for her mommy and daddy, but it's still so surreal to me that she is not here.  

I spent a lot of this past weekend with family that was in from out of town and I was anxious at first as to how people would treat me and how I would react to them.  I was very pleased that the time spent with my loved ones was happy - we talked about what Gary and I have been through these past few months and how much we loved our little girl.  We talked about our journey and our plans for the future.  Everyone seems so delighted that we are not giving up our dreams for a family.  And we are happy to think about what the future holds for us, too.  But I sure wish Allie was a part of that future.  I still can't look at her memory box or go in the guest room (formerly known as her nursery) for more than a moment or two without feeling a longing in my soul.  My arms feel light at a time when I thought they would be heavy from holding her.
 
For the first time since early April, I went to see my father yesterday.  He is in a nursing home now as his health has rapidly declined over the past few years.  He is unable to take care of himself any more and his memory is not what it used to be.  He gets confused a lot and is not able to handle normal, run-of-the-mill things like eating or bathing.  My dad used to be a very vibrant man.  He always put himself first which did not make him an ideal parent, but it made him one heck of a character and a lot of fun to be around.  When he paid attention to you, everything else fell away.  

We have talked on the phone the past few weeks and my dad kept telling me that he did not know what to say to me. I assured him that it was ok - there is no right thing to say in this situation.  And as I have said multiple times over the past few weeks, I do not want to live in a world where people know what to say to us.  That would mean that far too many people have experienced a loss like that and I could not bear that.  

During our visit yesterday, I felt an overwhelming sadness for I am losing him, too.  In many ways, I already lost him years ago.   He repeats himself a lot and does not have the capacity to carry on a whole conversation.  He is a shell of who he once was.  Our relationship was rocky at best and there were many years during my childhood that we did not even speak.  He did not walk me down the isle when I got married and he would not have been in the hospital when his granddaughter was born.  Seeing him yesterday, so simple and serene almost, made me realize in a way he is kind of lucky as he does not feel this loss as deeply as the rest of us.  But does that really make him lucky?  I think not.

So for now, let's hope the doctor gives me a clean bill of health tomorrow and then I will take it from there.  One step at a time, one day at a time...live in the moment and make each moment count...and that will help get us through.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Happy Anniversary

By the Fall of 2008, I had just about exhausted every dating site that was out there.  I tried so many...and had a degree of success with most of them.  I met potential suitors for drinks or apps or walks in the park or the movies and some I even went out with more than once.  I went out with all shapes and sizes and have many stories that still make me laugh and sometimes cringe when I think of them.  For anyone that might be reading this blog and is an active participant in the online dating world, here is my advice to you.  Do not advertise that you are something you are not and using a picture from your Bar Mitzvah or Prom will surely not work once we meet you and see that you have a lot less hair now and an inner tube where your waist used to be.  I am just saying...

So there was this guy, I called him "Gary from work".  And we had been friends for a while as we worked at the same company and passed each other in the cafeteria or on our way to meetings.  He was a nice guy - charming, funny, smart - and we used to go to lunch every once and a while as friends.  He was divorced and just getting back into the dating scene and we used to compare dates.   He was a much better dater than anyone that I had been dating, but due to the fact that he was a divorcee and was not Jewish, it never dawned on me that he and I should date.  

One day "Gary from work" got offered a new position at work. So we wanted to go out and celebrate.  But for some reason, instead of lunch, we decided to go our for drinks after work.  I invited my close friend, Beth, who lived nearby to join us as I thought they might really hit it off.  She likes dogs and "Gary from work" likes dogs.  Maybe they would be a match!

Later, Beth told me the minute she walked into the bar, she knew there was something between us.  And she was right. She tends to be right a lot, but that is for another post!

By December of 2008, my cat Zoe had pretty much moved in with "Gary from work" who then became known as "Gary my boyfriend".  I was at his place so much that I hated to leave Zoe alone in my condo so off she went to Gary's place.  Since Gary lived so close to work, we would up staying there a lot and it made more sense.

I put my condo on the market that Spring and by Memorial Day, it was sold and we put my things in storage and I moved into Gary's apartment.  By the end of that summer, we found a home we liked and we settled.  "Gary my boyfriend / roommate" and I moved into our new home and were so excited about the life we were starting together.  Everything was moving so fast, but it felt so right and neither one of us wanted to wait for our life together to begin.

On one warm Tuesday in September 2009, "Gary my boyfriend / roommate" took me to lunch at the same place where we had our first date and he proposed right there in the parking lot as he could not even wait till he got inside.  "Gary my fiance" was born. 

I am not sure if I ever thought that I would find Mr. Right, but as soon as Gary and I started to get serious, I knew that I wanted to marry him.  It did not matter that he was married before or that he was not Jewish.  The past was the past and we wanted a future - together.  In a way, I saw his past marriage as a practice round - he would know better this time around what he wanted and who he was.  And I knew that I could be his wife and still practice my religion, if I wanted to.  What mattered most was that he loved me so completely that I knew I would always be safe with him.  And I knew that I loved him every bit as much and that we were so lucky to find each other.

Saturday, May 29, 2010, we tied the knot.  It was the loveliest day and far surpassed any dreams I could have had for our wedding.   We found an Interfaith Rabbi who did a great job of incorporating what mattered to both of us and our families in the ceremony.  We then danced well into the night and partied like it was the biggest event in our lives.  And it was.   I knew then as I know now that I was one of the lucky ones and could not wait for our lives to start.  "Gary my husband" and I had so much love and we knew that would get us through.

By now, anyone reading this knows what a first year of marriage we had - so much of it so very amazing and wonderful.  A honeymoon to Mexico and New Year's in New Orleans.  A weekend in Washington, DC with my college roommate.  So many nights spent with families and friends...it was all a dream.  And although we thought there would be 3 of us celebrating our 1st Anniversary, it is back to just us and the beautiful memories of the 37 weeks that we were pregnant with our daughter.  

My hope is that by our 2nd and 3rd and 4th anniversaries, there will be the laughter and giggles and maybe even cries of our baby or babies filling our home.  You can't plan for love and you can't plan for life so you need to just live each day in the moment and enjoy what you have and who you are and take it from there.  After all, we are still here and our love is stronger than ever.  And that has to count for something, right? 

Happy Anniversary, Gary!   I love you so.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I know what I want

For as long as I can remember, I have been on a diet.  Atkins, Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, good ol' counting calories, hypnosis (yeah, really) and the list goes on.  I have been a member of many different gyms as well and we even have an elliptical machine in our basement.  But walking is the exercise that has always worked best for me - just plain power walking. I can do it anywhere, I can do it with others or I can do it with my iPod.  And it's free!

I remember going for walks when I was in the market for a new car.  I would look at all the cars on the road and try to visualize myself in one and fantasize about which one I wanted.  The color, the style, the way I would look in a specific make and model.  It was a fun game and it made my walks go quickly.

As I got older, I started to think that I did not want to rent forever and perhaps it was time to buy a place of my own.  This was pre-Gary, of course!  I used to look at different developments as I walked the sidewalks and streets and try to picture myself in a two story colonial or a one story rancher.  I would look at lawns and driveways and parking lots and try to picture what was most important to me and what I wanted.  Did I care about the neighbors or the proximity to the grocery store?  Did school districts matter?  No, back then I was more interested in the "cute" factor and how close it would be to the train station as I always imagined commuting into Center City, Philadelphia for work.

Several cars later and one condo bought and long since sold, I am back to walking again.  I could not do much the last few months of my pregnancy as I was sooo tired that all I could really do after working all day was come home and crash.  And even now, I am not supposed to do much till I get cleared by my doctor at my 6 week check up next week, but she did say it would be ok to walk as long as I took it slowly and did not get my heart rate up too high.

So I have been walking again.  It feels good to be outside and to do something for me.  I can't do much about the wiggle and jiggle that is my body right now, but I can start to take care of myself and hope that the walking will start to help put things go back to where they once were.  But here's the thing.  My arms feel limp as they are not pushing a stroller like I thought they would be by now.  And with my empty arms, I realized that I am no longer looking at cars or houses, but now I am looking at the kids out playing and the parents out with them and I feel such a longing in my soul that it takes my breath away.  I never knew how easy I had it before when I wanted something - I could just go after it.  Not so much now.  We went after what we wanted and got our hearts crushed.   I know we will go after it again and maybe this time, with our Allie's help, we will get what we want and I can finally stop looking everywhere else.  

As for the diet, I think I have a few more weeks to enjoy what I want before I worry about that!  I dare anyone to tell my differently!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Awake Dreams

My nephew Ryan turned 5 last week.   I have to be honest - I fell in love with him the first time I met him.  He is funny and cute and smart and loves to cuddle.  He also looks a lot like his uncle!  What's not to love?

Ryan has something he calls "awake dreams".  He lets his imagination roam and will play for long stretches of time all by himself but making all kinds of noises and running all over the place.  I think he inserts himself in certain situations in these dreams.  Sometimes he is in a scene from Star Wars, other times he is battling "bad guys".  I think maybe sometimes there are robots, too?  He is always so amused and always seems to be having the time of his life.

There have been days over the past 5 weeks that I wonder if Gary and I will ever get pregnant again.  And then I wonder how we will get through another pregnancy without being so scared every second of every day.  I get anxious and nervous and Gary reminds me to take it one step at a time.  Let's heal first, physically and emotionally, and then we can deal with what comes our way.

When all that fails, Gary helps me create our own awake dreams.  He will pull me aside and tell me to close my eyes and then detail a scene for me that is truly a dream that I am having while awake.  One time he described us in the grocery store about a year from now with twins - one was in the cart and one was on my hip - and we were in the cereal isle buying Fruit Loops.  (Coincidentally, the cereal was for Gary).  Twins!  One of my oldest friends from middle school has twins and surely she would tell me there is a lot of work involved in that dream!  Another awake dream had us with one baby and going for a walk in her stroller like it was the most normal thing in the world.  That baby was a girl, but I think there have been awake dreams with baby boys as well.  I usually cry during these dreams, but they are tears of hope and dreams and love.

So just as Ryan gets a kick out of his awake dreams, so now do I.   I cannot wait for the day our awake dreams become our reality.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Let's Plant a Tree

Every year, the hospital puts on a Memorial Walk to pay tribute to babies that have passed away.  It's at a local park and open to friends and family.  We just got the invitation last week, but the timing could not be better for us.  Today is one month exactly since we were in the hospital and the first time our families were together since they were sitting in the hospital waiting room.  It was bittersweet to all be together, but very healing as well.

There was not that much sun out today, but it was dry and for anyone in the tri-state area this week, they know what a big deal that was!  It was a little chilly and a more than a little  muddy, but we were able to be outside and let the kids roam free.  

While there was no real "walk", there were basketball courts and swings and jungle gyms and more than enough to keep everyone busy and happy.   Hamburgers and hot dogs were on the grill and lots of people brought food to share.  We estimated about 10-12 families were in attendance.  Not sure what stage they were all in - some had kids of their own, at least one woman there was visibly pregnant, and some were probably like Gary and me with parents and siblings and a few of our closest friends to stand by our side.

A tree planting ceremony was a part of today's festivities.  Paper and pencils were given out to the crowd so that whomever wanted to, could write a note or draw a picture to be planted along with the tree.  Poems were read and people reflected.  It was not an easy thing to get through, but we did it.  Another milestone.  I watched as our loved ones scribbled away on lots of notes for our daughter.  And to my little friend Katie who will be 7 years old next month, I saw the picture you made for Allie and she would have loved it.

Below is a picture of Gary and me - Gary designed these shirts for us to wear as a way to honor our baby.  The design is that of an Aleph - the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet.  You will see a curly cue cat tail one one side as she will always be our Allie Cat and a heart in the other side as she is now and will always be such a big part of our hearts.

We plan to go back to the park in a few weeks and check up on her tree and make sure it's thriving.  I have a hunch that it will be.



Saturday, May 21, 2011

Now what?

So now we are home.  Time for life to go back to normal, right?  Only our definition of normal has drastically changed from what is was just a few weeks ago.  Normal is Gary going off to work without me so I can stay home and heal.  Normal is weekly doctor's appointments to check my blood pressure and my incision.  Normal is talking about our daughter instead of to her.  Normal is grief counseling.

Gary and I have been on the same page about everything since this ordeal started.  We both knew that it would be good to have outside help and to go to counseling.  And so far we have been twice.  And we really like it.   With the help of my brother (a social worker) and my best friend's mother (a therapist), we were set up with a counselor who specializes in Loss and Bereavement.   She is a very good listener and is giving us tools to handle what we are going through.   She is helping us work through how to help ourselves, help each other and help our loved ones.  She listens intently and does not judge.  We talk about depression and grief and anxiety all in a very safe environment and it is helping us both.  We will continue to go as long as it is beneficial to us.   There are support groups out there that we might try one day, but for now, the one-on-one sessions seem to be giving us both what we need.

We are planning some vacations now that our life new plans for us.   We are looking forward to a long weekend in Chicago in July and a trip to Las Vegas in the Fall.  We want to try to laugh and enjoy ourselves and make new memories - although far different than the ones we thought we were going to be making this year.  We want to see what we can and enjoy what we can because we are still here and we still deserve it.  And if we are fortunate enough, we will get pregnant again when our travels are through and then we can move forward with making Allie a big sister.  Cause we both think she would like that.

So we wake up each day and we try to get through - some days are better than others, that is for sure.  But we have each other and we have a strength that we never knew we had and when I look outside and see a day like today - with the sun and the birds and the nice, gentle breeze - I think we just might make it through this after all...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Allie's Creek

Being at home was hard at first.   The house felt empty and we were so grief stricken that it was literally hard to move at first.   Luckily, we had so many people stop by that we did not have time to worry about feeding ourselves or cleaning the house or occupying ourselves - our friends and family did that for us.  We got the most beautiful flowers and plants that I have ever seen.  Then there were the delicious chocolates, catering food trays, frozen food meals, steaks, burgers, cakes, cookies...you name it, it all showed up at our house those first 2 weeks home.  Fruit baskets, edible arrangements, gift cards for restaurants...check, check and check.  And then there were the cards.  We must have gotten 50 cards in the mail.  Each one sent by someone who shared a story with us or offered a shoulder to cry on or just wanted us to know that there were people out there that loved us and were thinking of us.  All promised to keep Allie in their hearts.   It got so that we were looking forward to seeing the mail man each day.  And the UPS delivery guy now knows who we are.  (You would have thought with the way I shop, this had already happened, but I digress...).

And so, we tried our best to acclimate to being home.  Our company gave us both a week of Bereavement Leave so we did not have to even think about work, which was quite a relief.   Gary took an additional week after that and I decided (with my doctor's consent) to take a total of 6 weeks leave.  I am not sure that "time heals all", but it certainly helped to have the time to start to heal.

One of the hardest parts of being home for me was learning to not entertain, but just to "be".  To let others do the dishes and laundry and take care of things around the house as I was not able to do much for the first 2 weeks.  No heavy lifting, no driving, nothing that would get my heart rate up. 

Another hard part for me was the day everyone rallied together to clean out the nursery.  We did not want a shrine to Allie so we had our support system carefully pack everything up and put in away in the basement.  Bins and bins of Rubbermaid containers were filled with her clothes and books and blankets and picture frames to be put away into storage with all the other items that were stored when we were at the hospital.  The nursery went back to being a guest room and with it, our hearts just sank.  The freshly painted walls are a reminder of what the room once was and what we both hope the room will be again.   

So night after night,  our company would leave and Gary and I would be here - alone - in a quiet house.  It was crazy - after all these months of expecting sleepless nights and late feedings, there was none of that.  Instead there were tears and hugs and such a sense of loss that you felt it from the tip of your head to the bottom of your toes.  I am still not sure how much pain for me was the recovery from the surgery and how much was the grief and sense of loss.  I would look at my incision every day to make sure it was healing and rub my fingers over it in awe that a baby came out of there.  My dreams of holding my daughter and nursing her and singing to her have all been reduced to an incision that I do not care if it turns into a scar as then I will at least have a constant reminder physically that she was once here.

Then came the day we had to pick Allie up from the funeral home.  My youngest brother had bought and open ended ticket when he flew up from Austin so he was here to help us as much as we needed.  He knew what we needed before we did sometimes.  He drove us to the funeral home and held my hand, as Gary held the other, while we signed the paper work.  And just like that, she was ours again.

There is a small creek behind our house that is now called Allie's Creek.  The afternoon we brought her home, Gary and I walked into our yard and said our final goodbyes.  We told her that she was home now and that we loved her so much and then we let her go.  We watched as the water and the wind took her to her final resting place and we knew we had done right by her.  We brought her home.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Let the healing begin...

After we sent everyone home on Friday night, the strangest thing happened.  They all came back on Saturday.  And they brought back up.  Those that did not come to the hospital started to call.  And text.  And if we tweeted, I bet they would have done that, too.  I have never seen such an outpouring of support.  Gary and I kept joking that the hospital would probably discharge us early just to get rid of the masses.  And we would have it no other way!

There were shifts of people that were sent to our house to "de-baby" it.  All the goodies from my baby shower had been assembled and had been all over the house. Gary and I were both thrown showers at work and so there was all that stuff, too.   The first shift came and put what they saw in the basement and set up a bed for us on the main floor so that I would not have to take the steps.  The second shift went to see if the first shift missed anything and then also stocked our fridge and pantry.  Where they had the strength to do what they did, I will never know.   Gone was the car seat from my car, the pack n' play from the living room, the swing from the family room, the bouncy seat from the kitchen.  All the items we picked out with love and care and excitement were now exiled to the basement.  The stroller would not get to go on long walks this summer.  The highchair would not help hold our baby as we fed her cereal for the first time.   They also closed the door to the nursery so that we would not have to look at it right away.

Back at the hospital, we visited with our guests and I practiced standing and then walking.  The sooner I could prove that I could go home, the better.  The doctor checked in on me and was thrilled to see that I was already mobile (and clean - apparently wanting to shower was a step in the right direction!) and said she did not see why we could not go home the next day.  Hallelujah for that!!  I also got to eat for the first time since I was admitted and although I had very little appetite, anything was better than the ice chip diet I had been on since we arrived.

Sunday morning came and with it, Allie's autopsy.   Wow.  It looks even stranger when I write it out.   Nothing glaring was found - our 7 lb, 2 oz, 20 in long baby had nothing abnormal about her.  The doctor told us that it looked like a "cord accident" had likely been the cause of death, but it was really hard to know for sure.  She assured us that it was just that - an accident - and that it was not our fault and there was nothing we could have done.  Babies get their nutrients from the cord and if something happens and that supply is cut off, then, well, we all know now what happens.   Later we found out that I had some clotting issues with my blood, but as of late yesterday, it looks like the cord accident is probably what caused her death.  We are waiting for chromosomal tests which should be back by the time I go back for my 6 week check up in 2 weeks.  We are hoping the tests are all negative and the doctor seems to think that will be the case, but we need to wait and see.  We have been told more than once that we can try again and that so far, there is nothing to indicate that I should not or could not get pregnant again.  We were told to wait 6 months before trying and as much as we want to be parents, Gary and I both see the benefit of giving ourselves and my body some time to heal.

During this time, we called a funeral home and made arrangements for them to pick up Allie.  Gary and I had never talked about funeral arrangements for ourselves and now we were faced with what to do with our baby.  I am Jewish and Gary is Catholic, but we were going to raise Allie in the Jewish faith.  We were in touch with a family friend who called a local rabbi and we tried to figure out what was best.  Neither Gary nor I wanted a funeral so we decided on cremation.  I think funerals are for the living and I wanted the people in our lives to remember her as we had talked about her for the past 37 weeks - with excitement and joy and wonder and love and I did not want anyone to think of her and think sorrow and caskets and misery.  In the short term, some of that may happen, but in the long run, I hoped the love we had for her would be what everyone would remember.

So on Sunday, Gary and I went home.  And as happy as we were to be going home, it was hard.  3 of us went into that hospital on Thursday and only 2 of us got to go home on Sunday.   We had the "memory box" that the hospital gave us to bring home - it contained all the clothes they had swaddled Allie in, her hand and foot prints, a CD of 38 beautiful pictures, a ring they had her wear for some photos and I am not sure what else as I have not been able to look at the box since.  I want to and I will - but not yet.  Gary said it was the heaviest thing he ever carried.  That was until we picked up her ashes and brought them home later that week.  To be continued...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

If it was easy, they would call it picnic - not labor!

So much of what happened over the next few days was a blur.  I know we called our families to let them know what was going on and within hours, the waiting room starting filling up with our loved ones.    Everyone knew that I was in the midst of delivery and could not spend much time with them, but they wanted to be there just in case.  My mother was at the hospital in no time.  My father-in-law and brother-in-law drove from NJ to PA at midnight that night.  My brother and his wife flew in from Austin, TX.  My friends skipped work and got sitters for their kids and came and sat with each other.  No one wanted to believe what was happening and no one wanted us to be alone.  Nor did they want to be alone.

Since I was not ready to go into labor naturally, I had to be induced.   I believe the process started around 12:30-1:00 am and whatever they gave me immediately made me vomit.  Oh, so that is how it's gonna be, huh?  Luckily there was not much in my stomach at that hour and I did not get sick again.  They started me on pain meds and then we waited to see how far along I was.  And we waited.  And we waited.  At some point, I got an epidural.  In hindsight, I think they may have administered it too early as I never really progressed after that.  At 6:00 in the morning, I was 2 cm.  Same at 9.  Same at noon.  At one point I got to 3.5 cm, but we were a long way from the desired 10.  We were exhausted and drained and starting to fade.  My mom and Gary had both asked about a c-section and were both told that it was better for me to deliver vaginally.  (Side note: this experience has made me add the word "vaginally" to my vocabulary and I am not happy about it!!). 

At some point, the doctor told Gary that it was the patient's right to choose how she wanted to deliver.  That was all we needed to hear! After the OB checked me at 4:15 and announced that I had still not progressed that much, we made the decision that although it was major abdominal surgery, we had to agree to the c-section.  None of us could sit in that room any more and wait for my body to be ready to push our baby out.  It could have easily been another day at that point.  So we said let's do it and waited for the shift change at 7pm to move on with this next chapter in our lives.

Gary gowned up and sat beside me for the whole procedure.  He looked so handsome and proud!  He had dreamed of this moment for the past 9 months! The anesthesiologist was the father of a friend that I had grown up with and that turned out to be a good thing as I was distracted, asking him questions about his kids and his grand kids.  Gary sat next to me and supported me and loved me and somehow, we made it through.  

When they first pulled Allie out, Gary walked around to see her and came back to report that she was beautiful. She had his long toes and my dark curly hair.  They let him cut the cord (symbolically, since she was already removed from me) and that meant so much to him.  The doctors finished working on me and then we went back to the Labor and Delivery room.  Our little girl was born.

As they were checking me closely and monitoring all my vitals, they brought Allison to see us.  They took such great care and swaddled her up so nicely in a hand knit blanket that I assume was made my a volunteer at the hospital.  We introduced ourselves to her and stared at this wonder that our love had created.  There really is no love like the love you have for your child.  I get that now.  I do not remember what we said as there were so many tears, but I know we promised her that we would always love her and always love each other for she deserved that.  We both held her and kissed her hello and then goodbye.  We then asked the nurse to take her away as we did not want to dwell on the fact that she was like a doll - beautiful and still.  We had our time with her and that would have to be enough.  It was all we had but it was so much.

The moved us off the Maternity floor so that we could start to heal emotionally as well as physically and they got Gary a cot in a private room with me so that we could be together.  It was close to midnight at this point on Friday and we had not slept since Wednesday night.  As soon as we were in our new room, we both collapsed.  We brought our Allie into this world as we planned to do all along and now it was up to us to do right by her and make her proud and that meant we had to take care of ourselves and each other.  So that is what we did.  And it is what we have been doing ever since.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

No Cardiac Activity

Could there be 3 worse words? I can give you 2. Fetal Demise. Who comes up with this crap? Surely no one who has ever experienced what Gary and I have.

So let me back up a bit. Thursday, April 21st started just like any other day. Gary made us fruit smoothie's for breakfast and we went to work. We work together so we carpool and the ride in was just like any other. As I sat at my desk and started work, I drank my smoothie and smiled for Allie liked the drink and often kicked when I took a sip. I had been feeling her less and less and I had started to drop and I was now 37 weeks. Being full term meant there was not a lot of room in there for her to move around and so I was not that alarmed that I did not feel her as much. After all, I had been to the doctor that Tuesday and we heard her heartbeat and all was fine.

Sometime after lunch, I remember telling Gary that I disliked not feeling her as much. I also remember emailing him later that afternoon that I had felt her. I was worried a little, but what first time mom is not? We finished out the work day and went home.

That night was our last Labor and Delivery class. It was a 4 week class that we enjoyed for the most part, although it did freak us out a bit. We watched lots of movies (some showed WAY too much if you ask me and I am not a prude!) and practiced breathing and talked with other soon-to-be-parents. At the end of class, I happened to mention to the nurse that led the class that I had felt decreased movement over the past few hours. She said not to worry too much, but to get something sugary and go home and lay on my left side and wait for 6 kicks in a hour. If I did not feel them, then she suggested I call my doctor. Just to be on the safe side.

So, I did as she asked. And I felt nothing. So after about 15 minutes or so, Gary decided to call the doctor and she suggested we go to this hospital and get hooked up on monitors to see what was going on. There was no need to wait an hour - it was time to go...now.

I started to cry. A lot. I was in a blind panic and could not see straight. I asked Gary if he was worried and he flat out said no. We had gone to every doctor's appointment that we were supposed to, had all the blood work done that was required...in short, we did everything we could to make sure our Allie would grow strong and healthy and this little hiccup was just us being overly careful and cautious. Nonetheless, we flew to the hospital.

Upon arrival, I was offered a wheelchair. I politely declined as I was in no pain and felt fine to walk to the Maternity floor. We talked to the nurse on the way to triage about how happy we were to being this close to being parents and how we knew she was a girl, and other such small talk. I started to relax and feel a little better. Once there, they hooked me up to a monitor and then...nothing. They put a monitor on my finger as they said they wanted to differentiate the heartbeats...not read mine instead of the baby's and vice versa. When they could not hear hear heartbeat, they rolled in the ultrasound machine. And then they called for another nurse. And then another. And then I heard them whisper to call the doctor.

We asked what was happening and they said it was too soon to tell - there could be an issue with the cord or the baby could be hiding, but none of that made sense! There were no cord issues before and she had never "hidden" before. What the hell was going on??

After a few more minutes, we moved into a Labor and Delivery Room and they instructed me to put on a gown and wait for the doctor who was on her way. I changed and then sat on the bed and after some time had passed, I asked Gary what he thought was going on. He was stoic and calm and said he did not want to alarm me, but if the baby was in distress, they would have rushed me off to surgery. But they had not done that. They had us wait. Which he did not feel was a good sign. And he was right.

Our OB came in a short while later and with the ultrasound machine, she looked to see what was going on. After an eternity, she turned to Gary and me and with a crushed look upon her face, she said she was sorry, but there was no cardiac activity. Everything stopped. My world literally froze.   It was then that we heard the words "fetal demise" for the first time.  It's the new word for stillborn, apparently.  The doctor continued saying that we did nothing wrong and that this was not our fault and she was so sorry and she asked if we need or want anything.  I also remember saying that I wanted my baby. It was all I wanted from the moment we made her.  And now she was gone. And I had to deliver her.  The hard part was just beginning.

Monday, May 16, 2011

It's a Girl!

So where was I?  Oh right.  We just found out that we had a little girl on the way.  And we were so excited.  Gary's brother and his wife had just added a girl to their brood in November and if our little one was to arrive on time, they would be exactly 6 months apart.   My brother and his wife were due 3 weeks before us.  Could this be really happening?  Would there really be kids of the same age that could grow up together?  How lucky were we?

The Fall of 2010 went by fast and Gary and I celebrated our first Thanksgiving as a married couple and then our first holiday season as newlyweds.  We went to New Orleans for New Year's to surprise my "baby" brother for his 30th birthday.  And everywhere we went, our little lady went with us.  As my belly started to grow, so did our hearts.  We started talking about names and colors for her nursery and dreamed of all the places we would go once she was here and all the adventures we were going to have.

2011 came and with it came the joy that is the Baby Registry.  Now one might not think there would be a lot of joy with diaper genie's and car seats, but I bought so many dozens of baby gifts in my life that it was so exciting to finally be able to pick out gifts for my baby.  Gary and I asked an expert to come with us (thanks, Karen!) and a moral support person (thanks, Beth!) and we walked into that store on a cold winter day and took over!  We clicked this and clicked that and before I knew it, we had close to 100 items.  I knew how to use about 4 of them, but knew I had all the time in the world to learn!  And so many moms to help me.  We had a blast and that was such a fun day!

Once home, I stalked that registry like it was part of my job.  Turns out that all the people that I had bought things for over the last decade or two were so happy to be able to now buy for us.  I watched the pink blankets get bought up, the leopard print swaddlers disappear from the list, the swing, the stroller...you name it, it vanished off the list.  I heard my mom and my dearest friends planning my shower and I was so happy.   The baby kicked more and more in my growing belly and as Spring came, happiness was all around us.  We visited daycare centers and chose the one we thought would be the best and we settled on a name, although we kept it a secret till the very end.  We were so excited to meet Allison Paige.  Allie was named after my paternal grandfather, Allen, and Gary's maternal grandfather, Paul.  We covered all the bases with this perfect name!  We nicknamed her Allie cat to go with our Zoe cat who is the other resident in our house and she pretty much rules the roost.  We were covered from A-Z...

We toured the Labor and Delivery Room at the hospital and took all our classes.  We learned about the beauty of an epidural and saw one too many videos on natural childbirth.  We mapped the quickest way to the hospital and had our "go bags" packed for when it was time to go to the hospital. The last week, I even started training a temp at work for when I was out.

And then, our world fell apart.  Shattered like the glass that Gary stomped on at our wedding.  And that, my friends, is where I will pick up tomorrow.  Sweet dreams.

More...

Gary and I could not wait to start a family.   We are lucky enough to have many children in our lives with our wonderful network of friends and also family.  We have 2 nephews and 2 nieces and love them all so much that it hurt sometimes.  It hurts more that we promised them all a cousin that they are now going to have to wait a bit longer for...


I will never forget the day we found out that we were pregnant.  I suspected that I was (call it woman's intuition!) but Gary did not believe it!  After all, we were only married a few months and there was no way our luck could be that good!!  We were so excited to share the news with our families and sure enough, everyone was elated for us.  And to top it off, we had just found out that my brother and his wife were also expecting!  While we had to keep that news a secret until they were ready to share it with the world, we were so very happy.   


My pregnancy was pretty easy.  I did not get sick and I did not have a lot of nausea.  I was more tired than I had been in my entire life, but aside from that, I was ok.  And super excited.  Right away, Gary suspected that we had a little girl on the way, but it took longer to convince me.  Ok, so it took an ultrasound to convince me!  But as much as I wanted a little Captain America for my husband to play with, once they said the words, "it's a girl", our lives changed.  Gary beamed from ear to ear and I think I almost immediately wondered if there was a minimum age for manis and pedis...

A New Beginning

Ok, so here we are in the middle on the month of May in the year 2011.  The last few weeks of my life have been a whirlwind and I decided to try and put pen to paper, so to speak, and get some of these thoughts out.

In a few weeks, I will be celebrating my first wedding anniversary to the most wonderful man in the universe.  And I am not exaggerating.  My husband and I were meant to be together and I am a better person with him in my life.  I am not sure I knew that the word "wife" would ever apply to me but I am so glad that Gary knew it was a word that I would love!

A few weeks ago, I added another word to my vocabulary...mother.  Only with this word, we did not have as much luck.   After 37 weeks of love and nurturing and hope, our little Allison was born stillborn and thus changed the course of our lives forever.  This blog will be our story.

That is all I have in me right now - I think it's a good start!  Write more soon...

Learning to Love Yourself No Matter What

One of the problems with being a writer is that I use words as therapy. By writing my thoughts and feelings, I can often make sense of the w...