Friday, May 28, 2010

Moving forward

I had my final follow-up appointment yesterday, and I couldn't stop smiling after it. Not because I learned anything new or got the go-ahead to try again, but because they agreed to do some fairly aggressive testing to see if they can find a cause for what happened to Caleb. It's a very, very sad state of affairs in the miscarriage/pregnancy loss world - while testing on the tissue of the baby or placenta is common, it usually ends there and they don't do any testing on you until you've had three losses. Three. Can you imagine asking people to go through this three times? I mean, mentally I get it - I really do. One loss, a fluke. Two losses, shitty bad luck. Three, a pattern. But try telling that to a mother who already suffered through one loss. "I'm sorry, but you might have to go through this emotional hell two more times before we're able to investigate and look for a cause!" Especially for someone like me, where the autopsy and pathology of Caleb and the placenta came back normal, that's asking a lot. My baby was perfect and there was no reason for him to die; therefore, there must be something wrong with me that caused it (so goes the internal logic).

So I am absolutely thrilled that my doctor is pursuing additional testing. Seriously, I couldn't stop smiling yesterday. I am getting two tests done: On is the RPL screen, which tests for clotting disorders and autoimmune diseases that might cause pregnancy loss. I don't expect any of them to come back positive, but just knowing for sure that they aren't a factor will be a huge weight off my mind - especially because if they are an issue, they're so easily treatable (i.e. extra folic acid and baby aspirin!). It'd be such a huge shame to go through this again and find that just two extra pills a day could have prevented another loss.

The second is a hysterosonogram, or hysterosalpingogram, or sonohysterogram, or HSG, or some variation of that. I'm sure there are technical differences between each of those, but the terms tend to be used interchangeably in everyday use. This test will insert dye or saline into my uterus to expand it and allow a detailed ultrasound to be performed, which will rule out any issues like fibroids, structural problems, or scarring [a similar procedure is used to check your tubes if you're suffering infertility, but mine will be for my uterus]. Again, I don't expect them to find anything, but the knowledge that my baby maker is physically fine and theoretically can carry a baby to term will make my next pregnancy...please god, let there be a next much easier. I mean, I'm still going to be freaking out until the baby is delivered full-term and alive and STAYS that way for more than twenty minutes, but I won't have those lingering questions in the back of my mind wondering if there was something wrong with me.

So yay for the twelve vials of blood that got drawn on Wednesday! Yay for my HSG appointment next Friday! Yay for peace of mind!

Oh, and a confession: I almost hope they find something small and easily treatable wrong with me, so I have something to blame and more importantly, something to fix for next time.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Never the same

As I was walking my dog today, I was struck with a sudden and almost overwhelming sense of permanence. I knew that this was a forever thing, obviously. I'm not dumb. As much as I hope and dream and cross my fingers and pray and beg, I know that Caleb isn't going to magically be safe in my belly again. But today, it just hit me.

No matter what happens in the future, no matter how many kids I go on to have (hopefully a lot), I will always have a dead baby. This will always be a part of me. It's never going to go away. Every family picture ever taken from now on will always be one family member short, until the day I die. Even then, my funeral will be missing one mourner.

I am always going to be the mother of a baby who died. This is for always. I will always have the title of dead baby mama.

And I don't want it. I was okay with that title for a few weeks, but I don't want it anymore. Please, won't someone take it away from me? Take it back. I am not strong enough to have this be a part of me forever. I don't want to always be that person whose baby died.

I know I'll have other titles in life. Daughter, wife, friend, niece, cousin, hopefully mother again...Some will be just as important as being Caleb's mom. And they're all just as permanent.

But I don't want this one.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lost with no answers

Ha! I tricked you. Based on the post title, I'm sure you thought this was going to be another sad, from-the-heart post.

Well, it's kind of from the heart. If writing about the ending of the show I watched faithfully for six years counts.

And to recap, I'll just say:


Seriously, writers. I've seen "Titanic." I realize that you just ripped the end scene in the sideways world straight from the last scene in Titanic. Titanic: Rose returns to the ship, walks down the stairs to see everyone who died when the ship went down waiting for her, she shakes hands and hugs, there's a bright light, and end scene. Lost: Jack goes to the church, walks in the door to see everyone who was on the island with him waiting for him, he shakes hands and hugs, there's a bright light, and end scene.

I did like the way the story ended on island time, with nearly the exact same scene as the first scene in the pilot episode played in reverse.

But could it have been more open-ended? What happened to the six who escaped on the plane? What happened to Hurley and Ben? Just...WHAT HAPPENED????

UGH. I feel like the sideways ending was such a cop out. Lame.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

This I know

There are so many things I don't know about you, Caleb. I don't know what color hair you would have had - or if you'd have had any at all (you were bald as a doorknob when I met you!). I don't know if you would have had your dad's brilliant blue eyes (I hoped so) or my big brown ones. I don't even know if you would have looked like a Caleb. I don't know when you would have taken your first step or said your first word. Maybe big goofy Riley would have inspired you to say 'dog.' I don't know what your favorite color would have been, if you would have preferred the swings or the slide, or what flavor of ice cream would have been your favorite. Would we have celebrated your birthday with a theme? Maybe you would have been into trains, or dinosaurs, or baseball. I don't know if you would have taken after my side of the family and been tall, or your dad's and been average (okay...short!). I don't know what subject in school would have been your favorite, what you would have majored in at college, or what your first job would have been. Working at a fast food place? Mowing lawns? Maybe your dad would have hooked you up with a job at Google. I don't know if you would have gotten married and had kids of your own. There is so much I don't know and will never know.

Here is what I do know:

I know you weighed 9.5 ounces and were 9.5 inches long.
I know you had long, slender fingers, the teeniest fingernails, and big feet.
I know you had a perfect, tiny, ski-jump nose.
I know you had your dad's chin.
I know when you were born you tucked your hand under your chin, which is the same gesture I make when I'm thinking.
I know that when you were six weeks old, you looked exactly like a jellybean with a heartbeat.
I know that when you were thirteen weeks old, you waved to us during the ultrasound, and that you jumped and flipped around so much that the tech had a hard time getting the measurements she needed.
I know that whenever the midwife tried to listen to your heart with the doppler at the office, you'd move around and make her job difficult, but when I did it at home you'd sit in the same place and let me listen.
I know that you had just started making your presence known to me in the form of kicks and wiggles.
I know you liked it when I read Shel Silverstein poems to you. (Or at least I like to think so.)
I know I wanted you more than anything.
I know I loved you more than anything.

I know you were safe and warm in my belly, until you weren't.

I don't know what impact you would have had on the world.

All I know is the impact you had on my small world.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

No one ever said life was fair

I think it goes without saying that I hate this.

I hate this.

I hate the catch in my throat that happens when I hear a newborn cry. I hate the way my heart stops when I catch sight of a pregnant woman. I hate the way tears well up behind my eyes when I open Facebook to yet another pregnancy announcement. I hate that my excitement for your pregnancy is overshadowed by jealousy. I hate having to turn the channel when a commercial for the newest NICU comes on. I hate the way that I sometimes STILL forget that I'm not pregnant and I hate the way I sometimes feel like I'll never be pregnant again. I hate looking at the calendar and realizing that in just two weeks I should be starting my third trimester. I hate that I missed out on having a stranger rub my belly or ask when I was due because the week I really "popped" my water broke. I hate that I was never woken up by baby kicks to the bladder. I hate that the paint I picked out to paint the nursery is just sitting there and that I'm not begging Chris to help me assemble a crib. I hate seeing cute baby clothes because my baby will never wear them. I hate that I didn't get to complain about how huge I got or how swollen my ankles were. I hate that I won't have a baby this year. I hate that I won't have a baby in my twenties. I hate having lost my innocence. I hate knowing next time I get a positive on a test, my excitement will be tempered with fear. I hate that I can say, "When I was pregnant..." but that if someone were to ask how old my baby was I would be forced to admit that I don't have a baby at home, just in my heart.

I hate this.

Monday, May 17, 2010

My Ugly Shoes

I am wearing a pair of shoes.

They are ugly shoes, uncomfortable shoes.
I hate my shoes.

Each day I wear them, and each day I wish I had another pair.
Some days my shoes hurt so bad that I do not think I can take another step.
Yet I continue to wear them.

I get funny looks wearing these shoes; they are looks of sympathy.
I can tell in others' eyes that they are glad the shoes are mine and not theirs.
They never talk about my shoes.

To learn how awful my shoes are might make people uncomfortable.
To truly understand these shoes, you must walk in them.
But once you put them on, you can never take them off.

I now realize that I am not the only one who wears these shoes.
There are many pairs in this world.
Some women are like me and ache daily as they try and walk in them.
Some have learned how to walk in them so they don't hurt quite as much.
Some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by before they think about how much they hurt.

No woman deserves to wear these shoes.
Yet because of these shoes I am a stronger woman.
These shoes have given me the strength to face anything.
They have made me who I am.

I will forever walk in the shoes of a woman who has lost a child.

-Author unknown

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

One Month

It's been one month since you were born, Caleb.

It's been one month since you died, Caleb.

I miss having you safe inside me. I miss thinking about what the future would hold for you. I miss imagining what your nursery would look like - I had everything all picked out. I miss anticipating this Christmas - our first Christmas together as a family. I miss wondering what you would have looked like. Would my brown eyes and brown hair beat out your dad's light hair and beautiful blue eyes? Would you be tall, like me? Fair-skinned like your dad?

Most of all, though, I miss you.

There were a lot of big events that came together this week in the perfect storm of making me lose it. Sunday, Mother's Day. Today, one month anniversary. Friday, I would have been 24 weeks, the time when chances were good you'd be able to live outside me. Yesterday that all came together and I almost had a panic attack. My chest got tight and I couldn't breathe, I felt lightheaded, like I might throw up. I had to call one of my best friends to talk me down.

I want you back, baby boy. I want you to be a physical presence in my life every day, not just a memory.

How do I reconcile what was the worst time of my life - your death - with what was the best time of my life - getting to meet you?

I'm reading a book that describes losing someone like this:

"When someone dies, it feels like the hole in your gum when a tooth falls out. You can chew, you can eat, you have plenty of other teeth, but your tongue keeps going back to that empty place, where all the nerves are still a little raw."

Caleb, I miss you every day. I will always miss you. Even ten years from now, when I'm playing with your little brothers and sisters and I'm not grieving every moment, I'll miss you.

Love you so much, little guy.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Daily grind

Today I returned to work after having been gone since my water broke on April 7. Since it was such an unexpected leave of absence, I didn't get to de-pregnant my office before I left. So today I came back to:

A calendar on the wall still turned to April, with huge circles around the 20th, when I would have been 20 weeks (halfway!!) and when the gender ultrasound was originally scheduled. Also marked: this Friday the 14th, when I would have been 24 weeks and reached V-Day. June 2nd, when I would have been in the 3rd trimester. And obviously September 3, my due date.

A container of almonds on my desk, which I was snacking on to give my baby DHA and those all-important Omega 3s. I wanted a smart baby! [Little did I know that I should have just wanted a live baby.]

An ultrasound picture taped to my computer.

Two bags of Belly Bars on my bookshelf.

A drawer full of Easter candy that I'd purchased before I left.

A piece of paper taped to the wall where I'd calculated how many weeks I'd be each Friday.

A stack of Post-It notes I'd used to make a countdown of how long we had until we found out if our baby was a boy or girl.

A list of things that I had to do before I quit or went part time, as was the plan for when after the baby was born.

Coming here, it was like I'm still pregnant. I spent an hour cleaning out my office. Putting each thing in the trash or scribbling out each notation on the calendar was like a knife in my heart. You stab are twist no rub salt longer repeat pregnant.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

When a baby arrives,
be it for a day, a month, a year or more,
or perhaps only a sweet flickering moment-
the fragile spark of a tender soul
the secret swell of a new pregnancy
the goldfish flutter known to only you-
you are unmistakeably changed...
the tiny footprints left behind on your heart
bespeak your name as Mother.

(Kimberly de Montbrun)


Happy Mother's Day to anyone out there who has ever been a mother; whether you were able to parent your child for forty years or only knew about them due to a pink line, you're still and always will be

A Mother.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Dead Baby Etiquette: A Fieldguide

I was so lucky this week to get to see two great friends and spend some time with them. They share one trait that made them wonderful to see: They asked about my baby.

I get that people don't know what to say, so they often don't say anything. That they might have questions, but don't want to make it upsetting for you, so they don't ask. That they think it's easier on you if they pretend it never happened.

But I love my baby. I want to talk about him, just like any new mother wants to talk about her baby. I want to tell his story. I want to share pictures. I want you to know him like I knew him, since you'll never get to meet him.

And both these friends did just that. They cooed over pictures and said how adorable he was (which isn't easy to do...he was a micro, micro, micro, micro preemie and not everyone can overlook that and see the cute little boy underneath). They both noticed his perfect little nose and long fingers. They both asked questions about him, about his birth. They both told me they didn't know why this had to happen to anyone. That it was unfair. That they were sorry.

Neither of them has ever lost a child, but they both managed to do exactly what I needed. And for that, I thank them from the bottom of my heart. Caleb does, too.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Today at the store I overheard two girls talking about prom. Of the many things that have been stolen from me and others who have lost babies - particularly their first babies (that's a post for another day) - one I hadn't realized until today is how the letters P-R-O-M have changed for me. No longer do they conjure up thoughts of satin dresses (using far too little fabric now..have you seen what they're wearing? Kids these days! [bangs walking stick on porch] Get off my lawn!) (Um, and also, why do all of the women modeling the prom dresses appear to be thirty?).


P.R.O.M. No longer does it mean satin dresses, worrying about who will ask you, a badly decorated gym, sneaking in vodka, post-prom parties at the bowling alley, trying to remove 300 bobby pins from your rock-solid hair...

No. Now the very first thing I think of when I see those letters next to each other is dead baby. Premature rupture of the membranes. Granted, PROM doesn't mean dead baby for everyone - some people rupture even earlier than I did and somehow hold out, some people rupture past a time when the baby can survive - but for me and for too many other women, it does.

Just another "new normal" in my life full of new normals.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Last picture

While uploading the pictures from Aruba, I discovered the last picture of me pregnant, taken four days before my water broke and nine days before Caleb was born:

I have such mixed emotions while seeing it. One, holy belly, Batman! I didn't remember it being so large - I guess because it grew over five months. But seeing it reinforces the fact that I WAS pregnant. Sometimes it feels like a dream, but looking at the picture, seeing myself with a pregnant stomach...yes, I was. Two, since I didn't realize I'd been so belly-licious, I didn't realize my body had already changed so much since giving birth. Compared to that I'm supermodel belly flat. Of course, compared to a supermodel, I might as well still be five months pregnant, but still. Three, I wish I'd known everything that was about to happen so I could prepare. I never got to take a 19 week picture. I was on bedrest when that milestone came about.

Check out the difference between 17 and 18 weeks...Caleb must have had a growth spurt that week!

Sigh. I miss being pregnant. Sometimes I wonder if I'm just not wishing or praying hard enough for this all to not have happened and to still be pregnant. I'd give up everything I own to have him safe in my belly again.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mountains and valleys

Yesterday was a rough day. Thank god for Chris...he pulled me through with dinner and Family Guy. There wasn't any one thing that happened that made me so sad; the grief just randomly comes and punches you in the (babyless) gut, and the tears start rolling. Sometimes I think I'm crying because I miss Caleb, sometimes because I miss being pregnant, sometimes because I WANT to be pregnant, sometimes because I'm so scared to try again, sometimes because I fear not being able to get pregnant again, and sometimes because I worry that if I do get pregnant that this will happen again. And sometimes just because.

I think that as it gets further away from Caleb's birthday that the sad times actually hit harder. It seems backwards, but all the happy, normal times between the sad times made those times all the more difficult. When you're low already, as I was in the days following his birth, going a little lower doesn't make much of a difference. Getting hit by a train isn't so different than getting hit by a bus. But when you're feeling happy, going low just hurts so much more.

Aruba was definitely a high point. We went with great people, and for much of the time I was able to feel normal and not like a Dead Baby Mama.

I saw some enormous iguanas, which are all over the island...


...including this poor guy, who clearly had a rough life - missing part of his tail and one of his front feet!


I saw blue parrot fish and puffer fish.


I fed the flamingos (which aren't native, just part of the hotel's attractions).




They are LOUD (and frankly, kind of dumb).

I saw the biggest hermit crab EVER.


I saw this bird (I think a dove?) with a target around his eye begging some kid to shoot his eye out.


I went on a pirate ship.


I went on a party bus.


I had some drinks (but surprisingly, did not get wasted at any point, though looking at the second picture you might beg to differ).



Unlike, say, these guys.


(Don't ask.)

I wore a ridiculous hat, which I did not need booze to be persuaded to do. Chris, however, was slightly drunk at this point. And not happy that I slapped a sombrero on his head. And then forced him to take a picture.



I wrote our names on the wall (and in a corner, secretly wrote Caleb's name too).


Chris managed to get burned while reading on the beach despite the fact that he was completely in the shade AND it was dusk.


We booked a couple's massage on a private island off the coast. Okay, it wasn't really private, there were probably 100 people there. But it was a huge and everyone was spread out, and you had to be a hotel guest (or pay an exorbitant fee for a massage like we did) to access the island. You got there by grabbing a speedboat taxi on the mainland. It was absolutely beautiful and so serene. The first two pictures are of the little massage hut, and the last one is of the island itself. (And I probably shouldn't say that this was our second massage of the trip, should I?)



Let me just say that getting Chris to enjoy a good massage is one of the best things I've ever done.

Lastly, we enjoyed lots of beautiful sunsets.


(Note the boob tan in that picture. Eeek.)



Aruba really IS "One Happy Island," and thank god, because that's exactly what I needed.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Babylost Mother's Day

Today is International Babylost Mother's Day.

I hate that I even know that this holiday exists, much less that I can celebrate it. Holiday? Celebrate? Those two words can't even exist on the same plane as this day.

Real Mother's Day is coming up and it's something I don't even want to think about. I'm a mother, but I'm not a parent, not anymore. I was for all of twenty minutes, once upon a time. Where does that leave me?