Birthing Center vs. Hospital

At the beginning of this pregnancy, I was obsessed with whether to go back to the Birthing Center or to a hospital. I have back-burnered the decision for awhile, because it was making me crazy. Besides making a pro/con list, I haven’t actually committed my thoughts to “paper” yet, so I am going to go ahead and do so.

A little background –my first child, my son Max, was born at St. David’s North. I was interested in the Birthing Center during that pregnancy, but my husband was nervous about the idea of being outside a hospital. I could see that and it was the first time for both of us, so we found a highly recommended OB who also had midwives in her practice. We hired a doula, wrote up a birth plan, and went from there. I had hopes for a drug-free birth, but was by no means certain I would pull it off. I had read about the dangers of epidurals, even though I knew plenty of babies who had been born safely with them. I wanted to play it safe and, I admit, I just wanted to see if I could do it without drugs. That was the straight-A student talking who took Latin in high school just because everyone said it was near impossible to get an A in it and I wanted to prove them wrong. I proved them wrong then and I did it again when I gave birth to Max. No one was more surprised than me when I made it through without any drugs. I was also very proud, but I remember thinking after his birth, “It is really sad Max will be an only child, because I am NEVER doing that again.”

It was an “easy” birth. Active labor was only about 12 hours and I pushed him out in 10 minutes. I did tear, but it wasn’t too bad. Stitching was no big deal. Most of the nurses I encountered were very nice. The midwife who caught Max was very nice, too, although she really only showed up near the end, so I don’t remember much about her part in it.

There were definite pros to this experience. Everyone was pretty hands-off and left me, my husband, and the doula to work through it unless we asked for help. No one pushed pain meds on us.

There were definite cons as well, though. They did get pushy at times. They insisted on putting the fetal monitor on me once an hour for 20 minutes. No continuous monitoring just like we asked, right? However, nurses get busy and sometimes couldn’t come back for more than 20 minutes to take it off. So, I ended up tethered to that thing more often than not and it made me nuts. Then, of course, there was one glitch in the baby’s heart rate and they insisted continuous monitoring was necessary. They found a portable one with batteries, thank goodness, but it was unnecessary and annoying.

I also did not like that Max had to be taken to the nursery for the Vitamin K shot and other newborn procedures. They did give us several hours with him before that and my husband went with him, but, quite frankly, I was confused and bewildered and exhausted and wanted my husband and baby by my side. Period. They also called me from the nursery and insisted he was diephretic and needed formula right away. They were only doing me the courtesy of asking what kind. I was confused and exhausted and just said, “Enfamil.” Later, I was pretty angry they didn’t just bring him back to me to try to nurse again.

They also worried about temperature fluctuations he was having and kept insisting on taking him back to the nursery to be under a heat lamp over my objections. My mom finally had a throwdown with the floor nurse after they refused to bring him to me and demanded to know if it was medically necessary for Max to be under the heat lamp. They admitted that no, it wasn’t, the same thing could be accomplished by holding him and sharing our body heat. I was too scared to insist he be brought to me, because, as a first-time mom, I was scared I was wrong and something bad would happen. I was very glad my mother stepped in. They brought him back, we all took turns holding him, and his temperature was just fine.

They also insisted on a hep lock. This did turn out to be a good thing, because I needed fluids after the birth. But they left it on practically the whole time I was in the hospital, even after the IV was no longer necessary. It was very uncomfortable and interfered with positioning during breast-feeding. Again, we had to demand that the nurse go ahead and take it out as they had promised to do.

They also tried to force Pitocin on me after the birth to encourage the placenta to come out. It had only been a few minutes since Max was born and the nurse was just about to inject it into my IV, despite the fact that I was saying no, loud and clear. The placenta can take up to thirty minutes to come out after birth and there was no reason for a rush. So, I am here to tell you that doctors and nurses WILL try to force things on you and ignore your wishes. Luckily, the placenta popped out while we were arguing about it, right before she injected the Pitocin against my will.

Finally, everyone started completely ignoring me after Max was born. He did have meconium on him and they had to suction him and make sure he didn’t inhale any. But even after that was taken care of, no one in the room would answer me when I asked when I could see him. I said several times, loud and clear, “When can I see him?” and was met with utter silence by the nurses and midwife who were still in the room. My husband finally asked and they answered HIM. Hmph. Max had to be whisked away right after birth because of the meconium, so I was very anxious to see and hold him.

Lucy was born at the Austin Area Birthing Center on Duval. Although some of the midwives were “crunchier” than me, I enjoyed the less medicalized, hands-off approach. I was poked and prodded MUCH less at the Birthing Center. (Of course, the three-hour glucose test made up for that in one fell swoop.) When Lucy was born, we once again had a doula and I was an experienced mom who knew what she wanted. And the midwife in attendance respected that. She was very hands-off. I said I wanted to get in the shower, she was fine with it. I wanted to get in the tub, she said fine. (Most hospitals in Austin don’t even allow birthing tubs.) I wanted to get out of the tub, she said fine. I said I thought it was time to push, she said I could try a little one. Then, she checked and advised holding off a little bit longer. When I said I was ready to get on the bed and push, she checked and, sure enough, I was ready. They checked me periodically with a Doppler to make sure the baby’s heart rate was ok. Every time, she looked up, smiled, and said, “Happy baby.”

I had issues with clotting after Lucy was born and the midwives handled it swiftly and with a mixture of natural and medical methods. They told me everything they needed to do and gently persuaded me when I was frustrated and tired of having things done to me. They got the bleeding to slow and there was no need for a hospital transfer. They kept us a few extra hours and let us go home.

The facilities were beautiful and comfortable. They were minutes away from St. David’s if a transfer was needed. I know people who have been transferred from there and it went quickly and smoothly. The midwife accompanied them and stayed at the hospital to make sure everything was ok.

Lucy was with me every second after her birth, except for when grandparents were admiring her and they were doing unpleasant things to get my bleeding to slow down. She, Chris, and I all got to catch a nap in the (comfortable) bed together after everything finally settled down.  Once again, I did say to Chris, “We’ve got our boy and our girl, that’s good, right? We can be done?” Chris said, “Speak into the recorder.”

I will say that some of the medical procedures were more uncomfortable than they needed to be. The midwife was not as adept at stitching as the midwife who attended Max’s birth was. Also, none of them could place the IV after the birth and had to call in a midwife from the South location after several attempts were unsuccessful.

I tried going to the Birthing Center for well woman visits, but my troubles with postpartum birth control sent me back to an OB. One of the doctors from my previous OB’s office had started a new practice and I went back to her. Once we decided to try for this baby, I went to my OB to get my IUD pulled. Turns out they have a new doctor on staff and she was available sooner, so I made an appointment with her. She questioned my decision to get pregnant again so soon after Lucy’s death. A subsequent phone encounter did not improve my opinion of her. Plus, they deliver at St. David’s and if I do go back to a hospital, I ain’t going there. So, I chose a new OB for now.

The fact is, I think I would pick the Birthing Center in a second, but for two reasons – I am hesitant about going drug-free again and I am a little worried about bleeding after. I have only seen the PA at my new OB’s office so far. She was very nice, but it is still such a different experience. For one thing, I had forgotten about how appointments at a busy OB’s office take for-freaking-ever. For another, it is just so “one size fits all” sometimes. Not to mention, they gave me a big bag of booklets and pamphlets to read. I wasn’t going to bother, but I broke down and skimmed them today. Big mistake. They are full of the usual “don’ts” and terrible “what-ifs”.

I like feeling in charge during my births. My body knows what to do and has already done it twice. But I do have some “fear of the known”. You can tell yourself birth is only one day (give or take) in the parenting journey. But it begins to loom very large in the last few weeks when you are staring right at it. It’s easy for me to say I can do it again right now when it is so far away, but when I really remember it, it gives me pause.

But I don’t know what an epidural is like. Maybe the devil I know is better. It can hurt going in and I don’t know how it will make me feel or if it will make it hard to push. I don’t want to feel as if my autonomy during birth has been completely stripped away. Maybe it wouldn’t feel that way. But my previous experiences have been so different. Maybe it isn’t broke, so I shouldn’t fix it.

Boiled down, here are the hospital pros and cons:

Pros

Epidural availability

More safety if bleeding happens again?

Ostensibly a few days to rest before I go home to reality

New doctors deliver at Seton Main, which is supposed to be great

More ultrasounds with OB. I get to see the baby more often and possibly discover gender sooner.

Cons

I would have to be away from Max and he has some trauma and separation anxiety surrounding his parents being away at hospitals.

Risk of infection in hospitals

Babies taken to nurseries

They don’t let you eat during labor, no matter how early a stage it is.

St. David’s doesn’t let you have your placenta without a court order. I’ve been told Seton Main lets you have it without a problem. I hope that’s true.

Pushing with epidural might be difficult. There might be complications.

I could not get a decent nap or night’s rest in the hospital. Of course, I’ve gained a lot more experience living and sleeping in hospitals since then.

Birthing Center Pros

Placenta easily obtainable and one of the midwives knows how to encapsulate it safely.

Beautiful, more homelike setting with necessary medical equipment

More hands-off, less monitoring, poking and prodding

Baby stays with parents

You go home sooner. This is better for Max and for my comfort level probably. I hate for him to have to meet his new sibling in the hospital and then leave.

Baby could be born in the same room as Lucy probably, which would be sweet and symbolic.

Water birth option

We have a coupon for $350 off our next birth. (Yes, really.)

Shorter appointments, more older sibling-friendly

They have a game plan in place to stop the bleeding faster, based on the previous experience.

I would see their perinatologist (who is supposed to be wonderful) for a Level II ultrasound.

Cons

No epidural available. I have experienced increasing anxiety as the birth approached both times. This has been worsened by the fact that both of my children came ten days after their due date.

Not so adept at basic medical skills.

Possibly more danger with bleeding

I’m not as crunchy as some of them are.

 

It will be interesting to see how this pregnancy and birth unfold.

 

 

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Disjointed Musings on Grief and Death

I don’t know what to write today. My feelings are very confusing lately. I also haven’t had as much time to write. I usually write when Max is at school, but I have had appointments every school morning lately. And I’ve been trying to make our evenings LESS crazy so ….

Honestly, I’ve thought a few times about taking a break from the blog or just not writing about my grief anymore. It helps to get the feelings out, but I guess I am entering a new phase where I’m not sure I want to share my personal feelings with people so much anymore. It’s partly a new phase of grief, partly pregnancy hormones, I think. Pregnancy has had the welcome side effect of making my emotions more accessible. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten how easily I anger when I’m pregnant. I am very irritable. Basically, almost no one can win with me.

If you’ve ever been through a loss, you know that people want so much to help and don’t know how. Oftentimes, they either pull away from you, because your pain hurts them or because they don’t know what to say or they say and do the “wrong” things. Most of us have known people who suffered some sort of loss and we know that helpless feeling. Most of us have experienced some kind of loss and we have experience with people inadvertently being insensitive and cruel or just plain annoying and unhelpful.

I appreciate so much all of the support I have received from family and friends so far. Most of it has been fine. The things that have bothered me, I’ve ignored or just said, “Thank you” and moved on.

The problem is that most people I know have not experienced what I have – the loss of a child. We have a large circle of friends and acquaintances, so we do actually know a few other people who have lost children or have children with serious illnesses. We have gotten to know more since Lucy became sick.

This experience has opened up whole new viewpoints to me. I’ve seen the world of chronically ill children and their families. I am experiencing the world of people who have lost children. I struggle between wanting recognition and special treatment for the terrible loss of my daughter and just wanting to be treated normally.

I’ve been reading “The Still Point of the Turning World” by Emily Rapp. She lost her son Ronan to Tay-Sachs. She was also born with a congenital defect that necessitated the amputation of her foot. She spent a great deal of time in hospitals as a child, enduring many surgeries. So, she is a member of three communities that are marginalized or hidden in our society, but are actually much more widespread than most think, or want to think. She has a disability, she cared for a terminally ill child, and now she has lost a child.

Her experience differed from mine in that, although both of our children were diagnosed with terminal illnesses, Lucy did have some hope, no matter how slim it was, from day one. They knew their son would die from day one. But the thing we have in common is seeing things from the other side and seeing how no one understands what it’s really like to have a chronically ill child or to lose a child unless they have experienced it. And many don’t want to. I have not experienced the outright cruelty and insensitivity she has as a person with a disability and the mother of a child with Tay Sachs. That was one thing that was a blessing and a curse with Lucy’s illness. No one could tell how very sick she was from the outside. There were subtle signs. She was very quiet and very pale much of the time. But most people are not perceptive enough to note those things, especially when they don’t actually know the child in question.

The fact is, for many people, everything will always be fine. Nothing all that bad will happen. At the very least, they probably won’t lose any of their children. But child illness and child death are much more common than we think. Death is a natural and normal part of life, even though many of us have a very hard time thinking of it that way, especially for children. However, it does create a cognitive conflict, at least for me.  As I mentioned before, I want to be normal and I want everyone to recognize what has happened. For me right now, much of normal life is insensitive and cruel. Normal conversation at a girls’ night out can take a dreadfully hurtful turn for me and the speaker doesn’t even realize it. And I have to sit and smile and pretend it’s ok, hoping like hell they will drop the topic soon or casually leave the table. Because I can’t expect the world to revolve around me or stop and it’s not fair to make others feel embarrassed or like they have to walk on eggshells around me. I don’t want them to walk on eggshells around me. Because eventually people get tired of that and they walk away.

Stores won’t stop selling girls’ clothes. People won’t stop having little girls. The little girls in our family who were born the same year as Lucy will continue to grow and eventually become older than her and there is nothing I can do about it. Except be angry and avoid these things when I can. And hopefully, eventually feel better about it.

Now that I am having this experience I feel like it might be my responsibility to gently educate others about it. We are still a normal family. We don’t sit around bemoaning our loss constantly now, any more than we did after Lucy’s diagnosis. Both events caused grief and anger. It takes time to adjust. I often wondered if anyone realized exactly how hard it was for us when Lucy was sick. How much her diagnosis changed our lives. But we still laughed and enjoyed life then and we do now. Losing our daughter has changed our life, but it has not ruined it, no matter how much it might seem like it sometimes. You find a new normal.

Every day, you probably encounter sick children. Every day, you probably encounter someone who has lost a child. You can’t always tell by looking. And it can happen to anyone at any time. I don’t say that to scare you. It can be a freeing thought as well. I know that seems weird in our “knowledge is power, we can protect our children from everything” age, but it’s true. I breastfed my daughter, I followed all the safety rules. She still developed a fatal illness and died. There was nothing I could do about it. We basically learned that from the autopsy report recently. There was probably no way we could have anticipated or prevented her death. That was reassuring and frustrating at the same time.

I used to shy away before Lucy got sick. I tried to avoid sad stories, because they made me so sad. I am ashamed to admit that I still shy away from stories of children who have been murdered and feel like those parents have it worse than me, which is exactly what I don’t want people to do to us. For those of you who know someone who has suffered such a loss, you don’t have to do things. You don’t have to come up with words of wisdom. You don’t have to fix anything. Just listen. Ask them what they need. Tell them you’re sorry. Don’t tell them it will be ok. Don’t tell them it’s God’s will or plan. Don’t tell them you “can’t imagine” or you don’t know how they do it. Don’t say you could never go on if you lost your child. You may really mean that. You might be trying to express understanding or admiration. But it just exaggerates the fact that something bad has happened to them.

Also, do not give advice if it hasn’t been solicited or you haven’t experienced what they have. Just don’t. No one’s grief process is the same.

And if you’ve said or done any of those things to me or anyone else, do not feel bad. We know you mean well. We know you care. We also know this situation is very confusing for everyone. You want to be supportive and we want support and the last thing we want to do is hurt anyone’s feelings or make people afraid to give that support. I just want to make it easier and less confusing for all of us, if that’s possible.

I’ve had a protective wall around me since we lost Lucy. Sure, I’ve cried and been angry and sad at times, but I still don’t think it has really sunk in that she’s gone. I think that wall might be starting to come down. I find myself getting a bit shaky when I talk or write about her. I think I started to have that reaction right after it happened. The first few days, I kept having to remind myself to breathe. I found myself having to force myself to breathe a few times. But I found ways to keep myself busy and squashed it. Moving forward with the grieving process now is scary, but I know it will be worth it.

And I know you will all be there for me. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I would rather have you here saying the “wrong” things than have you avoid me out of fear. J

Happies

I had a meeting with Jackie Quintero, a marketing specialist for the Heart Walk, on Thursday morning. We ended up talking for two hours. She  was very touched by Lucy’s story and seems really fired up to learn more about pediatric heart disease and help us raise awareness of pediatric cardiomyopathy as well as other pediatric heart ailments. She is hoping to get Lucy’s story into the NW edition of Community Impact. She even thinks I should be a guest speaker at some Go Red for Women events! I am so very excited and hopeful that we can make a real difference for children with heart disease, particularly cardiomyopathy.

Chris and I are constructing a memorial page for Lucy on our website Operation Forever. We have finished the first part – a video tribute honoring Lucy and commemorating our life together as a family. I have wanted this just for myself ever since she died, but then we thought of the memorial page idea. We are also going to put the video on the Team Lucy page for the American Heart Walk. Part of the purpose of the Walk is to celebrate the lives lost to and saved from heart disease. We want to celebrate our amazing little girl and show everyone what they would be helping to preserve and honor through donating and signing up for our team. You can help children like Lucy. You can save other parents from saying good-bye to their children.

Most of all, though, this video comforts me. It reminds me what an amazing fifteen months we had with her. Lucy was so much more than her disease. Dilated cardiomyopathy did not define her. I can only imagine how amazing her future would have been, judging from this beginning.

Finally, we had our first prenatal appointment this week! I am about 8 weeks along and the due date is Feb. 28 (which means March 10, if this kid is anything like the other two). Everything looks great. Here is our first picture of “Baby Bean” as we have nicknamed him or her. The PA said babies like to snuggle up in the corner this early. I love to imagine him or her snuggling in there where I can keep them safe and warm.

Checking on the Kids

I creep carefully through the dark hallway, assiduously avoiding the squeaky boards. I twist the knob on Max’s bedroom door and  ease it open. It always sticks, especially when the air conditioner is running.

My eyes adjust to the dim light provided by his “Where the Wild Things Are” nightlight. They search out the outline of his body in his Thomas bed; my ears strain to catch his breath.

I hear it. I listen for six or seven breaths, making sure he is ok. I mouth, “I love you” and slowly back out, easing the door shut.

I stand outside his room. I look across the landing to the open door of the room that used to belong to my daughter. Her nightlight shines like her own eternal flame. I envision her lying in the crib, breathing softly, so adorable and alive.

I kiss the tips of my fingers and touch them to my son’s door.

I blow a kiss to my daughter’s door.

I kiss the tips of my fingers and touch them to my belly.

That gesture allows me to feel, for one brief moment, as if I am together with all three of them.

The Family No One Wanted to Be

When Lucy was born, the midwife said, “There you have it – the million dollar family.” While I don’t believe in the whole myth of the “perfect family” – 2.75 kids (or whatever the number is), one of each, I guess that is what we had. Two beautiful children. One boy, one girl. The boy first. That’s what people used to strive for.

For a former straight-A, obsessive compulsive person, I am surprisingly realistic when it comes to family composition. I believe perfection lies in the imperfections. I wanted at least three kids. A mixture of boys and girls. I wanted chaos and mess and imbalance. Most of all I just wanted to embrace whatever we had. To find comfort and solace and everything we needed in each other.

I told myself that. And I believed it. But it was only partially true. I was proud of my perfect, “million dollar family”. That was probably part of the reason I wanted a third child so badly. I wanted to have a third baby and not care one whit about the gender. I was so looking forward to that. I just wanted a third child, but I also thought it would be my chance to be zen. Go with the flow. Not stress about wanting a daughter so much for the first twenty weeks.

I’m not perfect. No one is. But I secretly worry all the time that I am worse than everyone else. I am so judgmental and critical sometimes. Especially when I am having anxiety attacks or my hormones are at a high. And I know these judgments and criticisms come from a place of insecurity. They come from me trying to reassure myself that the things I want are ok or that I’m making the right decisions. I don’t know why others have to be wrong for me to be right. But I know it’s because I still often feel bad about myself, not because others are bad.

I admit it. I felt sorry for people who didn’t have what we had. Even though those people had what they wanted and seemed perfectly happy with their choices. I was secretly proud my daughter was so beautiful, even though I know that’s not what matters in life. I know the truth now, though. I really just envied them for knowing what they wanted and seeming so happy with it. Ever since my nervous breakdown in grad school, I have underestimated myself and been afraid of biting off more than I could chew. I have been afraid I couldn’t handle as many kids as I wanted. I was afraid I couldn’t handle having all boys.

When my daughter became sick, part of me was very afraid that it was a punishment for my pride. A punishment for wanting more. When she died, it seemed like I was being punished for every hateful thought I ever had. I know plenty of people are hateful and judgmental sometimes and their kids don’t die. But it’s hard to be logical when you are sad and scared and blaming yourself.

It’s hard not to feel that this is some sort of crazy, cosmic lesson. Exactly two years ago at this time, I was a mother to one son. I was pregnant. It was summer. And I was desperately hoping for a daughter. I feel like my life has been rewound. I am raising one son. I am pregnant. It is summer. And I am desperately hoping for a daughter, even though what I really want more than anything is a healthy child for my husband and me and a healthy sibling for Max.

What I have learned is this – I was right all along. The perfection is in the imperfection. Everyone thinks their family is perfect and that everyone wants to be them. Or they hope that someone envies them. That’s why we post happy family photos on Facebook. We want to share our joy and pride. We want to hear how adorable our kids are and what great parents we are. Most of us know most of the time that we don’t have to diminish someone else’s greatness to enjoy our own.  But we still want that moment of pride. And I guess there is always a tiny hint of superiority in pride.  

After Lucy was diagnosed and especially after she died, it occurred to me that absolutely no one would want to be us anymore. No matter what kind of happy pictures we posted, no matter how many beautiful children we had, no one would want to be us. We have had everyone’s greatest fear realized. Our child died. We will not see or hold her again in this life and there’s not a damn thing we can do about it. There’s a huge effing hole in the middle of our “million dollar family”.

I didn’t want to be the family no one wanted to be. I didn’t want to have the trump card of misfortune. But you know what? I don’t. We didn’t have the worst happen to us. We had the best. We had Lucy. It doesn’t mean this wasn’t horrible and unfair. It doesn’t mean I didn’t want her to live and watch her grow. I miss her every single moment of every single day.

But we learned unforgettable lessons about unconditional love and strength. I learned once and for all that no one has to want to be us, because I want to be us. I wouldn’t want any other family in the world.  And it’s not because my family is better. It’s because my family is mine. The perfection is in the imperfection.

 

Two Months or Figuring Out How to Move Forward

A certain issue has started to weigh on my mind a bit more heavily as the two month anniversary of Lucy’s death approaches. Namely, what to do with her room and her things that are still around the house.

I certainly don’t want to banish all signs of her. In fact, part of me wants to keep everything the way it is forever or at least awhile longer. Her room is still just as she left it except for the addition of a couple of framed photos my friends gave me the day of the funeral. Her coats and rain jacket and pink Easter hat still hang on the hooks by the front door. Her winter hat and hairbrush still lay on the front table. I picked up the hairbrush to look today and there are still tiny wisps of her hair in it.

Her toys are in the living room and playroom. The Jumperoo is still in the living room. The changing table and boxes of diapers are still in the front room.

Some of these things will be needed for the new baby soon enough, so there is really no reason to move them. But I’m really not sure what to do about the rest of it. There is no handbook for this. Surely it would be odd to keep her little jackets on the front hook forever. Will I just feel ready to pack them away some day?

Obviously, we can’t keep her room intact forever, either. Those of you who know me in real life know how hard I worked on that room and how proud of it I was. The idea of disassembling it is heartwrenching. But it has to be done. And there is a bit of a time limit due to the new baby. It will probably be good for us to move forward and disperse her things throughout the house or pack them away for the new baby. To really see what our new reality looks like. But I can’t imagine not being able to go in her room and see all of the items I chose and arranged with such care. I can’t imagine not being able to look in her drawers and her closet and see all of the clothes she wore and will never wear. The Pebbles Halloween costume I bought a year in advance, before I even knew she was sick. I had so many dreams for the little girl who would grow up in that room. It’s like they are still real if the room is still there.

You probably don’t know that my beloved cat Belle also died in that room. I knew she was going to die and the vet let me bring her home. Lucy’s room used to be the guest room and I took Belle in there, so we would have a quiet place to be together during her last hours. I intended on spending every waking and sleeping moment with her until she died. She died less than an hour after I brought her home. She was just waiting to be home.

I am planning to have a priest come out to the house to bless the room and the crib. One of my friends recommended him. He is her priest and he came to her house to bless it a few years ago. The house was remodeled after a car drove into it. She wanted something to sort of cleanse the place of the bad feelings and memories before they moved back in. I do, too. I believe death is a natural part of life, but having two creatures I so dearly love die in the same room has made me leery of it.

We are not planning to put the new baby in Lucy’s room. It will become a guest room again, but with some Lucy touches. The current guest room will either be the new baby’s room or Max’s new room. I am planning on keeping the crib at this point, hence the reason I want it blessed as well. I went back and forth on that and it’s quite likely I could change my mind. But I love that crib. It is a beautiful crib. Chris and I chose it carefully and considered it an investment. We dreamed of all of our children sleeping in it. It sheltered Max for over two years of his life and Lucy for almost an entire year. It had nothing to do with her death, so, odd as it may seem, I want to keep it.

We’ve been in a state of suspended animation in some respects the past two months. Now we have to figure out how to move forward.

 

Trying to want what I want

Last night, Chris, Max, and I went to the Pflugerville Pfireworks Pfestival. Max loved the fireworks. He held his hands over his ears the whole time, but he laughed and laughed.

It was a wonderful evening until we had to wait in the shuttle line to go home. OMG. Anyone reading this who might ever go to the Pfestival, heed my words. DO NOT USE THEIR SHUTTLE SERVICE. We had to wait an hour and a half, packed in like cattle, for a bus back to our car. And we were some of the lucky ones. I am fortunate to have such a wonderful child. He didn’t start to fuss until about an hour into the wait.

Unfortunately, I became pretty fussy, too. The later it got, the more I started to dread the next day. I was already feeling exhausted and drained and the chances of getting a good night’s sleep were getting dimmer by the minute. I was feeling pretty pessimistic about handling Max’s need for attention the next day.

We finally boarded a bus and made it back to our car. There was a woman sitting in front of us on the bus. She seemed alone, but after the bus stopped and the lights came on, a sleepy baby girl popped up in her arms and started crying and fussing a bit.

That just finished my mood. Every baby girl reminds me of Lucy. I couldn’t stand it. I just stared at her, wishing with all my heart that Lucy was in my arms, sleepy and fussing.

The cemetery was on our way home. That didn’t help much, either. But then, Max fell asleep in the car, which was cute and also a relief. We managed to get him upstairs and in bed without waking him up.

All of this, combined with pregnancy hormones and exhaustion, put me in a pretty good spiral of self-pity. When Chris came to bed, he gently asked me if I was ok. Of course, I wasn’t and I poured out everything. I remember something about “only child hell”. Yes, I was very worked up. And I am a little embarrassed I said or thought that at all. That’s not really the way I feel. At least, not to that extent. But Max and I both miss Lucy and we are still adjusting.

All of this got me thinking about how much I want this baby to be a girl. Or do I?

The fact is, I have a very strong feeling this baby is a boy. Last night, I had myself convinced I’m not ok with that. But I think I am actually afraid of being ok with it.

Last night, I prayed for God to give me some answers about why all this happened. Why I was given the daughter I wanted so badly just to have her taken away. I prayed for Him to help me be a good mom and wife today, no matter how crappy I feel.

And, of course, today has gone fine. I am super-tired, but Max has been quite amenable and easy to deal with.

The best part, though, is that I have felt this strong, passionate love for my baby-to-be today. And I still have a very strong feeling it’s a boy. It’s the first time in a week or so that I have felt very connected to him or her, because I have been pretty busy and tired. It is so nice to feel this love again.

I just can’t seem to let go of my dream of having a daughter. I am afraid that, if this baby is a boy, I might not ever have another daughter and I might not be ok with that. I would be so grateful for the children I have, but I would be angry over Lucy being taken and never being granted another daughter.

I watched “Anne of Green Gables” last weekend for the first time since Lucy died. In fact, I think it was the first time since she was born. I had planned to watch it with her soon and it hurt more than I expected to watch it without her. I tried to get Max interested, but he wanted to watch videos with his Daddy. And I could see my future there if I never had another daughter. There is no guarantee a daughter would be interested in Anne or that a son wouldn’t. But it’s just representative of everything I wanted to share with Lucy and didn’t get the chance. I could see a future surrounded with boys who share none of my interests and I wasn’t too happy about it.

The upshot is that I am having a hard time letting myself be ok with this baby being a boy. Despite the fact that I think I want a boy and I absolutely love this baby no matter what. If I am meant to have another daughter I will. Who knows? Maybe I will get the boy and girl twins I yearn for. Stranger things have happened. They are the most common kind of twins. It seems like my prayers for today were answered, so maybe that one will be as well.

Mama Needs some TLC

I want some buttered noodles. And popcorn with butter. And a burger. And a big glass of wine. And a Diet Coke. And to watch every schmaltzy episode of “7th Heaven” I can find, especially if it involves a wedding or a baby (preferably both) and cry over the wonderfulness of life.

It’s been a long day. Mama needs some TLC. I wonder where I can send my husband to get the complete boxed set of “7th Heaven”? (Stupid Netflix doesn’t have it.) Would that be the weirdest pregnancy craving ever? Lol.

A Way to Help us in our Fight against Pediatric Cardiomyopathy

I finally created a team for the American Heart Walk in Austin on October 19, 2013. Please consider signing up to walk with us if you are in the Austin area and/or donating. No amount is too small. Thank you.

Here is the link to the Team Lucy page. There is a button to join and one to donate. You can also leave a supportive message if you like. We love those. 🙂

https://www.kintera.org/faf/search/searchTeamPart.asp?ievent=1047709&lis=1&kntae1047709=9CD9847857F54E598632E8DF6E90AB00&supId=387655432&team=5564674

Making a Liar out of his Mommy

Yesterday was such a Monday. Pregnancy hormones are hitting me hard. I am so, so determined to not be as cranky with Max during this pregnancy as I was at times during my pregnancy with Lucy. I did quite well yesterday, but I think my exasperation still showed a couple of times.

So, yesterday’s post was negative, negative, negative. That’s life. But just one day of it. I have good day and bad days, but I mostly love my life. In fact, yesterday turned around right after I published my post.

I was sitting with Max waiting for him to go to sleep. He has wanted me with him every night for at least a week. He wants me, not Daddy. The one night Daddy stayed in there, it didn’t go too well. I ended up sending Chris to give Angus his heart meds while I soothed Max to sleep. (Chris rocks at getting Angus to take his heart meds.)

The last few nights, he has really fought sleep. He wants to stay up and play and talk. I just sit there being as boring as possible. Minimal talking. Lots of snuggling. He eventually gives in and I sneak out.

Some nights I have loved doing this for him. Some nights I was determined to do it for his sake. Some nights I spent the whole time praying to God that Max would just go to sleep already, because I was tired and nauseous and really uncomfortable on the floor next to his bed. Between my bad back and my growing belly, sitting next to a toddler bed for long periods of time ranges from uncomfortable to painful. But I think about how he needs to know we are there for him no matter what. He needs to know we will protect him and keep him safe. He needs his sense of security back. So, I sit and smile and refuse to give up until he sleeps.

Last night I was sitting there, quietly smiling at Max, intermittently urging him to go to sleep. Suddenly, he looked up at me with the sweetest smile on his face. I couldn’t believe the words that came out of his mouth.

“You can leave.”

I didn’t believe my ears. “What?” I stupidly blurted.

“You can leave”, with the same beatific smile on his little face. I think he looked a bit proud, too.

“Are you sure?” I was pretty sure this was a trick of some sort.

“Yes.”

“Ok, I love you. Sleep tight.”

I stood up, crossed the room, and stood by the door. I blew him a kiss. I think he said he loved me. I smiled. I might have thanked him. He turned over. I left the room and barely heard a peep from him the rest of the night.

I couldn’t believe it. I was so proud of him. I hardly dared believe that he had simply realized he was safe and secure and didn’t need me to go to sleep anymore. He has only told me to leave once before. I am so proud of him.

This morning, I grew even prouder. Chris told me that Max woke up and said he needed to go potty! And he did! I think it was because it finally clicked in his mind that he gets trains from the prize bucket when he potties. Either way, it is still a breakthrough! He said it and did it!

I wrote about some complicated feelings yesterday. Some of the harsh realities of my situation. I told the truth. I do hate having only one child, mostly because of the way it happened. It definitely has its perks, but this didn’t happen the natural way. We didn’t choose to stop at one. Our other children haven’t grown up leaving us with our youngest at home. My daughter was taken from me. I miss her. I hate the hurt this has caused me, my husband, and my son. I get angry sometimes at the extra burden posed by helping my son through this, while I am suffering through it, too. I worry that we won’t handle it well and he will be marked negatively by this forever.

But I know we can handle this. Max started play therapy at My Healing Place last Friday and I think I’ve already seen a difference in him. I am fully committed to giving him as much extra security and support as I can, no matter how drained it makes me feel at times. This won’t last forever. It will get better. It will be worth it. And some day, I will miss the days that he thought I was so awesome he didn’t want to be separated from me for a moment.

I am so grateful for Max and Chris and the new baby. I am so grateful I had Lucy. I am sad that I will never see my three children together. I will never have a photo of them together. It saddens me that this baby will be born and I will be back to two instead of actually having three. I wonder how I will handle comments about being pregnant with my second or having two from people who don’t know the situation. Because I will be a Momma of three no matter what happens with Lucy or this baby. Nothing will ever change that. And I will have to find a way to share my truth with people without making them feel like an ass for asking. I will never deny Lucy. I will never omit that she was here.

I actually long for twins, because it seems like that would make up for losing Lucy a little bit somehow. I guess I feel like life owes me a baby. I will have three living children that way. I will achieve my dream without having to worry about chickening out of another pregnancy a few years down the road. I have always wanted twins anyway. I even read some old wives’ tales about ways to conceive twins. They probably don’t work, but you never know. J

I go back and forth on it, but I have had some strong feelings that this baby is a boy. I have mixed feelings about that, because I want another daughter so desperately. Not to mention that Max desperately wants another sister and is convinced that the baby is a girl. Of course, I could be wrong. But I was right about Lucy and Max. That’s another reason I wanted twins. I desperately want a daughter and worry that I will always feel a little bit unfulfilled if I don’t have another. But I would also love to have another son. Boys are wonderful.  I would be over the moon if I found out we were having boy and girl twins. It’s a long shot, but you’ve got to ask for what you want, right? You just never know.

If I end up without another daughter, I am back to how things look as opposed to the truth of my life. It shouldn’t matter what people think or see. I know the truth. But I have seen friends post on their Facebook pages about being “proud to be a boy mom”. Would I be a boy mom if I only raise boys to adulthood? Lucy will always be my daughter, no matter what.  Again, we come back to lying by omission (which I won’t do) or making people feel awkward if they comment on my having boys and I have to set them straight. I won’t properly belong in either club. I will not be a boy mom, because I had a beautiful, amazing daughter. She was real. But she’s not here.

I know I am borrowing trouble here. These situations probably won’t come up that often. And we don’t need clubs. We are all mothers. But I can’t pretend I don’t think about it. I was proud of having a daughter and very proud of my actual daughter. I can’t pretend I don’t miss showing her off. I want all of my beautiful family to be visible to the world. Just like everyone else.

I have worked through and processed these feelings since I found out I was pregnant. I know I can handle whatever comes. Whatever we have, boy or girl, twins or singleton, everything will be ok. It already is ok.

I can do this. I will not worry about breaking down. I am strong and I know how to take care of myself and everyone else. And I am so glad I have all of you with me, rooting for me and my family.

 

 

 

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