Monthly Archives: August 2014

Special(ists)

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Today was a long one. Many appointments with specialists in Fargo to check up on little miss. These are the folks that come from “the cities” and only get to our part of the world once a month. They are nice, good people. They are kind because they are only seen by folks like me who have either had a loss or have had great problems conceiving or have some other underlying medical condition that may prompt a person to be referred. They are SO nice that it’s a little on the saccharine side to be honest. I’m not sure if they think I’ll break? Or break down? Maybe. I suppose that is pretty common. I also suppose they are often not the bearers of good news, so they are trained to be hyper sensitive to the emotional impacts that may occur. Anyhow, I went. I was scanned and scanned and tested and retested. Then, because she was NOT cooperative in letting them get pictures of her heart, I left with instructions to come back in 6 weeks and to have bi-weekly stress tests and once weekly ultrasounds starting in 2 weeks. Just to be on the safe side. So that we can achieve a “positive outcome” this time. I’d been gone about 45 minutes and was running errands when they called me back. They said they’d had a cancellation and if I was still in town, could I come back so they could give it another go? Sure. Why not. I had time. So, I turned around. And went back. And then, sat and waited for an hour. Now, in my head I understood that they only reason I was back was because they wanted to make sure all was well. To ease my mind. To reassure. But boy, let me tell you, that extra hour of waiting felt suspiciously like those 16 days of waiting to find out what was going on with Bennie. Suspiciously like that constant stress that presses on your mind and your body in a way that could easily lead to panic without trying too hard. I had to move around, I couldn’t sit still. I kept walking on that sixth floor, that same floor where Bennie lived for 7 days, just down the hall. That waiting area where we had to meet with social workers and fill out transfer paperwork and life insurance information. That same floor where we sat in a small room on the 5th day of his life for hours, waiting and praying that he would live after a bleb in his lung burst. That same floor where I sat in the bathroom and cried uncontrollably because I never knew that stress could literally cause NOTHING in your body or brain to work besides your tears. It seemed too close, all of it. Like it was pushing in one me. Now of course, how could they know any of this? How could they know what another trip, when I thought I was out of there, when I thought there was a plan and things were good, might do? How could I know? I’d geared myself up to be there. I’d thought it through in my head. But then, I had to come back. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t prepared. I was a big old ball of nervous energy that had no where to go.

So, after a time, they called me back. I laid on the ultrasound table, again. They tried to take her picture, again. They were not successful. The tech looked at me and said, “Well, I hope she is not as stubborn as this when she comes out!” and I laughed and said she was probably genetically destined to be stubborn. And then the doctor, who was so lovely before, came back. And she asked me about Bennie. Which she had not before, other than to say she was sorry for my loss. And I cried a little and said I was sorry but that he had lived…LIVED…just down the hall and it was catching up with me. And this lovely woman, who I had met only a few hours before, looked at me and said, “You just have to trust that God will be with you, because who can live without that? I am sure your son knew.” And she turned and walked away. This was the very LAST thing I thought I’d hear from a medical provider. They typically steer FAR clear of any religiosity. They tell you facts and statistics and quote Latin. And in those moments after she left, that push of anxiety left too. Simple as that. I know this would not have comforted everyone and I am sure in some cases it may have even offended them. I am sure that she could not know what it would do for me. But I can tell you, the firmness of her conviction made sense to me in a way that no medical terminology ever would have. So, today I am grateful for this specialist…who helped me in more ways than one.

Blessings-Quotes-may-the-sun-bring-you-energy-by-day

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Bumps

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bump in the road

I am not sure why people love being pregnant. Now, I get the joy and excitement part of it. The anticipation. The feel of movement and new life growing. I do love those pieces. But in terms of the day to day, who loves it? I know some people do. And I love them! But for me, pregnancy has not been easy for a few reasons. The obvious one this round is stress. And anxiety. A whole lot of that. I think so often about all you read telling you that your baby takes on whatever you take on in terms of stress levels, fatigue, health problems, etc. I read the blogs and the books and the magazines telling you how to have a “worry free” pregnancy…and honestly, I really just wonder who writes these things?! Who has the capacity to live life, with all its ups and downs, and then find their zen while trying to grow a person who makes you bloated and have never ending nausea and so many other digestive problems that I cannot even begin to describe the level of discomfort and makes you lose your ankles by noon every day and not sleep soundly and makes your back hurt and your hips hurt and acne to sprout on your face like you are a teenager…and on and on. I haven’t the slightest clue how to “cultivate peace” while all of that is going on. Add to that the triggers associated with grief that sneak up when you least expect them and the joys of crazy blood sugars and you have the trifecta of “holy crap, I don’t think I can do this!” post-loss pregnancy meltdown.

Every pregnancy has its bumps, both literal and figurative. The baby bump, which seems to grow exponentially in these last months to reach a size making it appear you have swallowed a watermelon whole. It’s sort of awesome in terms of wiggle…the force of the movements is rather breathtaking and amazing. This time, I find myself giving in to the need to connect to this person growing inside of me. I have been resisting that connection because I felt like my heart couldn’t take the potential of loss…but in a strange way, this very resistance has actually made me MORE aware of the gift of each day of life for this child of mine, whether that is in the womb or outside of it. So, I talk to her more than I did Bennie. I sing. I tell her what I’m doing. I “hold” her at night as we drift to sleep and tell her goodnight along with her brother. My niece has named her Cheesy and every time I see her she kisses my belly and pats it and says hi. It makes me smile. I have named her Little Miss Sunshine, because it seems to fit how I feel about her…and reminds me of one of my favorite books as a kid that tells the story of a little girls going to Miseryland and how she shows them how to be happy. Seems appropriate. I think of how fortunate I am to be carrying this person and how fortunate I was to carry Bennie and have so much time with him. I think the first time I was anxious for other reasons…and I lost track of the gratitude for much of my pregnancy. This time, whatever the outcome, I realize that I need to be fully aware of that gratitude. So, in some ways, the potential for loss has actually both pushed and pulled me all at once. Pulled me away to protect myself and yet pushed me toward this new life. It’s an interesting balance.

Sometimes the bumps take an emotional form. When at counseling, they call these moments of grief “triggers”. I don’t know if that’s the best word because to me, they often feel more like steamrollers, pushing you down with a force that you didn’t realize was still possible. They can be little things, like a song or a smell or a sound…for example, sometimes when I am shopping the noise the scanner makes at that grocery store suddenly pushes me back to the hospital and the sound of the machines in the NICU. And it’s like I am there, in that room, instead of buying fruit. Sometimes, the quiet of a space does the same thing…it takes me back to the moment we turned the machines off and how profoundly quiet it was after a lifetime full of noise. That moment was in many ways the hardest but the most beautiful and peaceful. You could FEEL the peace descending as Bennie’s breath was leaving. It was awe-filled and full of light. No other way to describe it. Sometimes, it’s the smell of cleaning agents that reminds me of the lovely woman who cleaned Bennie’s room and told me wonderful stories about her own sons who had been in the NICU as preemies…one lived, the other didn’t and thereafter she always asked to be assigned to that part of the hospital so she could help in some small way. Her name was Rhonda. She was one of the best people I met while we were there and in her very unassuming way provided more comfort than she can ever know. Sometimes its the rushing sound of water that reminds me of the sound of the chest tube machines and standing in the shower at the Ronald McDonald House on the day we learned Bennie wouldn’t get better and trying to decide what we would do and walking in the rain one night after we were home being angry and not caring about the wet. It’s kind of amazing the amount of everyday sights, sounds, and noises that keep that time alive. In many ways, I love it. Because those were his moments and our moments together. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I treasure them all.

One of the things that my therapist suggested to me was that Sean and I should make a plan for things that may be triggers in terms of events/days/holidays. Talk it through…what will we do if “x” happens? Do we need to talk to our family and friends ahead of time to let them know? Do we need an “out” if things get too hard? This has helped a lot. It makes us understand where the other is in terms of their grief and it also makes us more comfortable in leaving or knowing it’s ok if we need to. We’ve been good about this overall. Then, last week, we were busy and life was flying by and we had our niece’s first birthday to attend. We got in the car, we drove, we arrived. We had the present. We ate the food, we took pictures, we sang, we watched her smash the cake…all the usual pieces. It was good, she was adorable as always, we were happy. And then, I was sad. Just overwhelmingly, heartbreakingly sad in a way I haven’t been for a while. Because I realized Bennie would not get to experience these things…so many firsts were taken away when he died. And even in all the joy, I was just devastated. I almost couldn’t hold it together. I had to walk away from the group for a little while. And then I felt guilty for bringing the weight of my grief to such a happy place. I know that, because she is only about 6 weeks older than Bennie, that this twinge will probably always exist when I look at her and interact with her. It reminds me of the time I spent with my sister at the hospital with him…when she looked at me, as a new mom of a two month old and said, “Oh, Amy, I had so many plans for them”…and we cried together at what was not to be. I am ok with that and want to make sure I don’t let it take over the love I have for her. But boy, there are moments when that is really quite hard. I’ll find my way there, eventually. Or, maybe I won’t. I don’t know. But either way, it’s alright.

On the way home, we were quiet and talked a bit about the need to slow down, to not be so overwhelmed with work that we forget about life. We’d promised that to each other in the midst of Bennie’s life…to live ours in a way that honors him. It is easy, though, to make yourself busy, to fill your days and hours so that you don’t have to face the hard parts. Sometimes, that is very necessary. But it’s also important to remember that the hard parts are important too. They are the bumps that make us appreciate the good. So, we’ll get back to noticing them and also let ourselves know that if we can’t figure out a way to handle them all, that’s ok too. That will allow us to focus on the growing bump that is keeping us on our toes already. She’s already distinctly her own person and what a gift that is…we wouldn’t want her to be any other way. I’m getting anxious to meet her.

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