Archive for November, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving (a day late)!

Last Thanksgiving, we were on a plane headed to the stunning island of Maui (the trip is documented here and here). Although I never imagined such a thing could be possible beforehand, the beauty of the island was the perfect balm to my heart that had so recently been shattered. The tranquil trade winds, the gentle roar of the waves crashing against rock and sand, the thundering waterfalls that flowed so forcefully, the colorful rainbows that constantly reached across the sky, and about a million other things that make the island so idyllic, blended into the perfect recipe for a grief-stricken soul.

This year, we re-joined the usual Thanksgiving traditions of a big dinner with family yesterday, followed by Black Friday shopping in the wee hours of this morning. Last year, tears were always brewing below the surface, and I was in no mood for holiday festivities. My grief controlled me more than I controlled it. This year, while grief continues to occasionally take my breath away in the most unexpected of moments, it mostly remains contained until and unless I allow its presence to consume me. Sometimes I need to feel that pain, as it is the biggest reminder that my daughter was real. That she lived. That I gave birth to her and held her in my arms. That I looked into her eyes for the briefest, yet most meaningful of moments.

Of course, even when I am not in a place of deep, uncontrollable sadness, I still miss Madelyn terribly. I always will. But this year I am mostly adjusted to this new life. And I have reclaimed the happiness that departed when she left this world. It is a changed happiness, but it is enough for now. And for that, I am thankful.


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Prayers for a friend

A blogger friend of mine lost her second baby yesterday, and she is being induced to deliver him today. Please keep her in your prayers, and stop by and send her some comfort if you get a chance.

The title of her post hit home for me, because I felt the exact same thing after losing Madelyn. In fact, while I was carrying her I prayed continuously for her healing. I even had people tell me they knew God was going to heal her. I was constantly conflicted about this because I wanted to believe it, but I also felt the need to be realistic. Well, one day while I was praying I felt strongly that no matter what happened, she would be healed, either on this earth or in heaven. It wasn’t quite the answer I wanted. But it gave me peace anyway, to know that she would be healed, even if it meant my own heart might be broken. The people who told me God was going to heal her were not wrong. He did. It simply was not in the way I wanted.

Today I pray that God will send comfort and peace to my friend and her family in this difficult time, as they learn to live life on this earth while 2 of their precious children wait for them in heaven.

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At the end of this week, I’ll be able to say I’m more pregnant than I’ve ever been. I’ll be able to say I’ve spent more time with Liam than I was able to spend with Madelyn, both in and out of the womb.

It’s hard to believe.

It’s hard to believe so much time has passed since I was pregnant with Madelyn. And it’s sometimes hard to believe that pregnancy usually ends in bringing a baby home. I do believe I’ll bring Liam home. But I’d be lying if I said the dark “what ifs” never entered my mind. Yet to me, it has become normal to feel that way about pregnancy.

Even when I am unaware of it, losing Madelyn has impacted me – the way I think, the way I speak, and the way I live. Because normal to me is not really normal. Sometimes I forget this.

I was searching my scattered mind for the words to describe what I mean by this. And then I remembered something I shared on my blog almost a year ago. I have decided to post it again. Some of these things have lessened for me since I first posted it. And then other parts of it are more true for me now than they were even then.

Author Unknown

Normal is having tears waiting behind every smile when you realize someone important is missing from all the important events in your family’s life.

Normal for me is trying to decide what to take to the cemetery for Birthdays Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years, Valentine’s Day, July 4th and Easter.

Normal is reliving that day continuously through your eyes and mind.

Normal is every happy event in my life always being backed up with sadness lurking close behind, because of the hole in my heart.

Normal is staring at every baby who looks like she is my baby’s age. And then thinking of the age she would be now and not being able to imagine it. Then wondering why it is even important to imagine it, because it will never happen.

Normal is telling the story of your child’s death as if it were an everyday, commonplace activity, and then seeing the horror in someone’s eyes at how awful it sounds. And yet realizing it has become a part of my “normal”.

Normal is each year coming up with the difficult task of how to honor your child’s memory and her birthday and survive these days.

Normal is my heart warming and yet sinking at the sight of something special that my baby would have loved, but how she is not here to enjoy it.

Normal is having some people afraid to mention my baby.

Normal is making sure that others remember her.

Normal is after the funeral is over everyone else goes on with their lives, but we continue to grieve our loss forever.

Normal is weeks, months, and years after the initial shock, the grieving gets worse sometimes, not better.

Normal is not listening to people compare anything in their life to this loss, unless they too have lost a child. NOTHING. Even if your child is in the remotest part of the earth away from you – it doesn’t compare. Losing a parent is horrible, but having to bury your own child is unnatural.

Normal is trying not to cry all day, because I know my mental health depends on it.

Normal is realizing I do cry everyday.

Normal is being impatient with everything and everyone, but someone stricken with grief over the loss of your child.

Normal is a new friendship with another grieving mother, talking and crying together over our children and our new lives.

Normal is not listening to people make excuses for God. “God may have done this because…” I love God, I know that my baby is in heaven, but hearing people trying to think up excuses as to why babies were taken from this earth is not appreciated and makes absolutely no sense to this grieving mother.

Normal is wondering this time whether you are going to say you have three children or two, because you will never see this person again and it is not worth explaining that my baby is in heaven. And yet when you say you have two children to avoid that problem, you feel horrible as if you have betrayed your baby.

Normal is knowing I will never get over this loss, in a day or a million years.

And last of all, Normal is hiding all the things that have become “normal” for you to feel, so that everyone around you will think that you are “normal”.

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I get a weekly pregnancy update in my inbox, telling me how Liam will be growing until the next week. At 32 weeks, my update informed me that my immune system was very suppressed in order to protect my baby from being fought against by my body. Apparently our immune systems would otherwise be under the impression that babies are “foreign objects” against which we must be defended.

I’m so glad my immune system is not attacking Liam. However, as soon as I read that email, I had a feeling I wouldn’t make it through this entire pregnancy without getting sick at least once. I could almost sense it coming, especially since it’s that time of year when colds are starting to make their way around my office. And unfortunately, I was right. Almost immediately, my body started trying to catch something. I even went home early one day last week, because I felt so poorly. I was happy when I woke up feeling better the next day, but that was only temporary.

Wednesday morning, I woke up to a scratch in my throat. At that point, I was sure the sickness had won. I made it through the day not feeling great, but not feeling bad enough to go home either. Then, Thursday morning I felt horrible, and I could tell I had the full blown common cold, complete with a case of tonsillitis. Friday, I felt even worse. Thankfully I started feeling a little better yesterday, but not by much. All day my voice was about 10 notches lower, both in pitch and volume, than usual. Today my voice has mostly returned, and I’m still struggling with head congestion, but am very glad to report my throat is feeling much better, and I’m hoping by tomorrow I will be ready to face the day. Although, being that this is a cold, I’m sure those annoying symptoms will linger for a few weeks to come.

And thus concludes the saga of my bout with the common cold.

Besides battling sicknesses, this has also been a week of maternity photos! On Tuesday, a friend who I met while in the hospital with Madelyn took some outdoor maternity shots of me. She and her partner have recently started a photography business, and I was so happy I could give them some extra maternity photography experience while getting some amazing photos to add to my scrapbook of this pregnancy! To anyone who lives in or near the St. Louis area looking for a photographer, do check out their new photography business, The Sweet Life Images! They offer great photos and their prices are amazing.

Here are just a few of my favorites from our session on Tuesday.

Yesterday, we had an indoor maternity shoot with Robin Frisella Photography, and Nathan was involved in that one. I expect to have those photos within 2 weeks, and will definitely share them when I do! I’m so glad we’ll have so many maternity photos to remember this pregnancy. I wish we were able to do them with Madelyn, but by the time my stomach was big enough, I was already in the hospital for monitoring, and so there simply wasn’t an opportunity to do them.

Last week, I didn’t find much time to blog, and so I didn’t get a chance to mention something wonderful that happened related to this pregnancy!

Last Thursday, when I got to work I was informed that another of our departments needed to meet with me at 2:30 p.m. regarding our international offices, and the head of our department, my supervisor, and I needed to prepare a few minutes beforehand. We spent 10 minutes doing so, and then went to the meeting room. When we arrived to the “meeting”, the other department was nowhere to be found. Instead, my department was sitting in the conference room with the lights out, waiting to throw me a surprise baby shower! I had absolutely no idea!! I was overwhelmed by the amazing gifts I received. Thanks to this generous surprise, I now have pretty much everything I need for Liam and so much more!

I feel so grateful to have so many thoughtful and giving people in my life: people who have been there for me since my mid-pregnancy ultrasound with Madelyn, supporting me through the remainder of my pregnancy with her, through our grief after we lost her, as we struggled with how to conceive again, as we went through the FET process, through the emotional ups and downs of this pregnancy, and now, as we are so close to bringing our next baby home. As long as I’m alive on this earth, I’m sure I’ll never understand why some things, losing our daughter being the most life-shattering, were in my path. But I do feel blessed that I wasn’t asked to walk this path alone. So to my friends, family, and coworkers who have been there for us in such a big way since May 19, 2009, I thank you, and your kindness will always mean the world to me.

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33 week OB checkup

Today’s OB checkup went well. I’ve gained 1 pound in the past 2 weeks, and my blood pressure was 110/80.

I asked my OB if he had any concerns about my last ultrasound, and he said none at all. He also said that to keep in mind that ultrasounds are not always accurate about weight, so I shouldn’t worry about that right now. I know this is true because they were nearly a full pound wrong about Madelyn’s weight, and considering she only weighted 3 pounds 4 ounces, being off by a pound is huge! He did tell me that as we get close to the end, there are different things we can do to attempt to progress things if he is measuring abnormally large. He also reassured me that because this is not my first time to give birth, it should be easier on me.

My next OB appointments are on 12/1, 12/8, 12/15, 12/22, and 12/29. Starting with my next appointment, he’ll begin checking my cervix for effacement and dilation. It’s hard to believe we’re to this point already!

On Tuesday, I had some outdoor maternity photos done by a friend who has only recently started a photography business, The Sweet Life Images. It was a lot of fun, and I really look forward to seeing them! On Saturday, I have another maternity photo session with a photographer with whom I booked a maternity, newborn, 6 month, and 1 year package. These photos will be indoor studio shots, and Nathan will also be in those. I am excited about having these photos to cherish forever.

I feel so behind on blogging right now, both mine and those of others. I work in international HR, and lately I’ve had a lot of calls scheduled with offices in different parts of the world, which often means evening conference calls for me. Then, we have a lot going on at our house, and it seems when I finally find a free moment, I’m too exhausted to do anything else! I’ve had so many blog posts run through my mind, only to remain internalized. However, I am committed to at least blogging appointment updates, as this is the only place I journal my pregnancy. Maybe one of these days I’ll find the time and energy to do some introspection and blogging.

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Ultrasound, nearly 32 weeks

Today I had my ultrasound – it’s hard to believe it’s been 6 weeks since the last one! Time really is flying, and I’m not one bit upset about that!

Today, Liam kept playing with his toes – it was too cute! He is still head down, and I was very happy to hear that. He’s also still measuring big – this time he weighed in at 4 pounds 13 ounces, putting him at the 68th percentile for his gestation.

His head and legs were measuring closer to my due date this time, but his abdomen was measuring a little over 2 weeks ahead. They said this can sometimes be a sign of gestational diabetes, but since I passed my glucose screening they said there is probably no reason to be concerned. My amniotic fluid levels were also on the high end of normal, which is quite a switch from last time! My overall amniotic fluid volume was 20 cm, and the high end of the normal range is 25 cm. However, I did have 1 pocket of fluid that measured 9 cm, and if there is a pocket over 8 cm, that is actually considered excessive. This can also be a symptom of gestational diabetes. My perinatologist wasn’t concerned about this either, but he did say they’d take another look in 4 weeks to see what my measurements are. I hope I haven’t developed gestational diabetes since I did my glucose screening 4 weeks ago. I’ll be curious to see what my OB says about this in my appointment next Wednesday.

I experienced a few scary seconds today – the ultrasound tech thought she saw fluid on the right kidney, but when the perinatologist looked, he said everything looked fine to him. I think he could tell I was worried, because he made sure to emphasize the fact that everything was fine, and he didn’t see anything at all.

Here are a few pictures from today! I asked if they would be able to get any 3d pictures, and they said the room I was in didn’t have that capabality. Maybe next time!

His face

An arm

I had a few other pictures, but these were the best ones!

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OB Checkup, 31 weeks

Today I had an OB checkup, and all is well! As usual, the appointment wasn’t very eventful. My blood pressure was 110/78, I gained 3 pounds since last time (very normal), and my fundal height was 33cm, which is 2 weeks ahead of schedule. Last time my fundal height measured 3 weeks ahead, so I was glad to see it hadn’t increased further! Fundal height isn’t an exact science though – the position of baby can affect it, among other things. We’ll get better measurements at next week’s ultrasound. But the important thing is that Liam is growing right on track!

My next OB appointment is in 2 weeks. I’ll go in again 2 weeks after that, and then I’ll be going every week until Liam is born!

I can’t believe how close we are getting to holding Liam in our arms. It seems only yesterday I was counting down the weeks until our FET. It’s so exciting!

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