Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Sometimes I am overwhelmed with fear that this will happen again.  I think anyone who has suffered miscarriage or pregnancy loss or infant loss goes through the same emotions. It's occasionally enough to make me not want to try again. To just give up.  But what if? What if it doesn't happen again? And what if I missed out on beautiful, wonderful children because I was scared?


But what if it does? Would I be okay? Would Chris be okay? What would we do? My heart shattered on April 12 and it doesn't quite fit back together the way it did before. If it broke into a million pieces again, would I be able to put the shards back together this time?

Does that thought ever go away? I hate that I can't take comfort in the things most women do.  I just want to be naive again. I heard the heartbeat. I made it into the second trimester. I was days away from being halfway through the pregnancy. If I get pregnant again, will there come a day when I'm able to relax and consider the possibility of bringing an actual baby home with me, and not just a box of memories?  At this point I can't imagine it.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Ship

I am standing upon the seashore.

A ship at my side spreads her white sails in the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.

She is an object of beauty and strength and I stand and watch until at last she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says, "There she goes!”
Gone where? Gone from my sight…that is all.

She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination.

Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

And just at the moment when someone at my side says, “There she goes!,” there are other eyes watching her coming and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, “Here she comes!”

- Henry Jackson van Dyke (1852-1933)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

They just don't understand.

Note: This is a post that I wrote but never published back in May, just a few weeks after Caleb was born. I'm not sure why I never published it. I'm sharing it now because I know it contains thoughts universal to those who have experienced similar losses.

I know a lot of people don't understand. They don't understand why I'm grieving at all, much less why I'm still grieving. It's not like I lost a "real" baby, you know? But I did. I lost a real baby, a real baby who I held and named. Yes, I was only pregnant for five months. I don't even know what color my baby's eyes were. Once he was born, I was only with him for a few hours - alive for far less than that. If you've never been pregnant, you might not ever understand what it's like to lose your baby like I did. You must think I'm insane to let five months affect me like this. But if you have had a baby, perhaps you can imagine. You must remember how excited you were. How you loved that baby - the idea of that baby, if nothing else - since you peed on the stick. How comfortable you were after that 12 week mark passed.  How you fell hard for that little baby doing flips at your NT scan. How all of your future hopes and dreams centered on the little baby you planned on bringing home.  The baby was literally a part of every decision you made - what you ate, what you were going to do today, what you were going to do in a week, month, year, ten years. By 20 weeks, you'd made some concrete plans. I was in love, utterly and completely in love with Caleb before I even knew who he was. I was in love with the idea of him, of my hopes for him, of my dreams for us. Once he was born, I feel in love with him - concretely in love with HIM, the tiny little baby I held in my hands, and not the vague future I'd imagined. You loved your baby beyond words the first time you saw him, didn't you? I did too.

I didn't just lose my son. I lost all those hopes and dreams and imagined futures.

I didn't just lose all those hopes and dreams and imagined futures. I lost my son.

Friday, October 15, 2010

National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day

I'm sure every single person who reads this blog is already aware, but today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  Please visit to donate, upload a picture of yourself, and show support.  They are trying to get 2,000 pictures from 2,000 women who have experienced loss in order to represent the number of women and families who lose a pregnancy or infant every day. Every day. Can you imagine?

Sunday my parents and grandma and I went to a memorial service that the hospital holds each year for all the lost babies and children. Tuesday marked six months from Caleb's birth and death. Today is this important day, and in honor of Caleb, I'll be going to the hospital to donate some outfits for babies born too tiny - they had nothing that would fit Caleb except a hat.  I'll also be going to a candlelight vigil and balloon release tonight (anyone in Omaha: Heartland of America Park at 7pm!) to remember Caleb...

and Adrian
Aidan H.
Avery and Alexander
Babies Holmes
Brody, Logan, and Wyatt
Jonah and Noah
Olivia H.

and all the names I can't list here (if I missed your child, post in the comments and I'll add!), and all the babies that were gone to early to have names.

To all of them, I remember.  You can remember by lighting a candle in honor of today at 7pm to take part in the Wave of Light.

Monday, October 11, 2010

I think someone's trying to tell me something...

After I posted that I wasn't sure what to make of the ladybugs, I came inside to find the front door screen crawling with them - on the inside! No idea how they got there. There were probably close to a dozen. I shooed them off. The next time I came to the door, they were all back. And every time I chase them off (so they don't die trapped between the doors!) they come back.

It's like someone is trying to make sure I get the message.

Friday, October 8, 2010


Ok, I'm SO not the kind of person that looks for signs everywhere, but....

...every single walk I've taken since we got home, I've come back inside the house only to find a ladybug on me.  Every. Single. One. Today I specifically looked outside because I thought they must just be swarming all over the place, but I only saw one other one out there. 

Weird, no??

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Five Days Out

Feeling okay. Chris went back to work, so I'm not walking like I should be. I will regret this tomorrow!

Monday, October 4, 2010

TAC Hints and Tips

It's been four days since my surgery (which, wow...time has flown!) and I feel loads better. The eight-hour drive home yesterday wasn't the worst, although sitting in one position for a couple hours meant that each stop we made to walk started out roughly. We probably made four half hour stops or so. It might have been better to stop every hour for a shorter amount of time, but on the other hand the extended walking really helped. So it's probably a wash in terms of which is really more beneficial in the long run. There were two painful times that stuck out in my head: one was laughing, and one was coughing. Both suck donkey balls. While we were walking at a rest stop, Chris made some ridiculous comment about pooping and intestines (you know you married the right man when you can talk to him about not pooping for four days) and I started to laugh, and felt one of the worst pains I'd experienced since the first day. It left me breathless and in tears. However, it did diminish fairly quickly, so I know that the healing is going well. The second was after a drink of water went down the wrong way, and I coughed. I was sitting in the car during that one, so there was little I could do for it except press the travel pillow in harder and breathe through it. That pain lingered for a while, I think because I wasn't able to walk it off.

In terms of how I feel right this very second, I'm good. I actually feel pretty great and have experienced just a little pain today. I'm still wearing the abdominal binder, and it's made a world of difference, and I'll be able to use it again after future C-sections. It's also helped keep the swelling down. The swelling hurts worse than the incision itself, I think. It's very tender and raw, though the binder helps with that. Still, the worst is that burning sensation I've talked about.  Updated: I've since learned that it's the nerves regenerating, and it's actually a GOOD thing, since some people permanently lose sensation in areas after surgery (any surgery).

My back still hurts from holding it so stiffly. And my chest and lungs ache. Those things reaffirm to me that I made the right decision, since traditional cerclages often require bed rest, and my body just doesn't do that well. I remember it from when I was on bed rest with Caleb too - even after just a few hours of laying flat on my back, my lungs start to get congested and it gets difficult for me to breathe. I was made to be active! The trans-abdominal cerclage will allow me an almost completely normal pregnancy (knock on wood, fingers crossed, and all that).

So what tips or tricks do I have? Man, I don't know. I think this surgery is so different for everyone, but I'll tell you what helped me:

1. Get the first surgery slot in the morning!
This was the biggest difference, I think, between my fairly relaxed, on-time surgery with minimal waiting and lots of time with Dr. Haney and Trisha's crazier one that involved lots of waiting and little time with the doctor.

2. Bring your travel pillow...and lots of other pillows and blankets.
Ok, maybe not lots. But we brought the travel pillow (which is recommended up the wazoo by other ladies who have been here, for good reasons), and two full size pillows: a body pillow and a slightly firm foam pillow. Both from home, straight from our bed. First, it's comforting to have something from home. You don't even realize it, but the smell and the shape and the way you sink into it just like you do at home...all those things help you relax a bit more. Second, the hospital pillow was nothing. Maybe an inch thick. Might as well have tried to use an envelope for a pillow. Third, it helps you get into and stay in a comfortable position by offering support around your sides. I also brought a blanket - my "blankie" if you will. It's not a full-size blanket; more like a throw. Suede-ish texture on one side and faux fur in a tan zebra print on the other. I'm sure it sounds hideous, but it's a) really cute and b) really warm and c) super soft and d) super comfy and e) super comforTING. It was a Christmas present from one of my friends years ago, and while I don't go so far as to take it with me on vacations and stuff, I do use it almost every night. I had it in the hospital with me while I was on bed rest and had it with me when we delivered Caleb. So it's very special. But outside of the sappiness, hospital can be cold, so it's nice to have a good blanket.

3. Think about an abdominal binder.
Actually, don't think. Just get one. It's pricey, yes. But now having used it, I'd pay twice the amount. I have this one. There are other products out there, like the Belly Bandit, but this one was made specifically for post C-sections and abdominal surgeries. It helps support the incision, and the compression helps with post-surgery swelling. When I first used it, I thought that it was the cause of that super painful burning, like maybe it was putting too much pressure on it or causing a rash, but after talking to Trisha and taking the binder off, I realized that it wasn't related at all. I have it on pretty much all day and then take it off at night to let the incision breathe. The feeling of the surgery site with it on and with it off is night and day. Updated: Again, I've since learned that the burning is the nerves regenerating. NOTE: Some hospitals provide these. ASK before buying!

4. Keep ahead of the pain.
Use the pain meds they give you. They are there for a reason! You won't get a prize at the end for not using them.

5. Move around.
The more you move, the more it hurts...but the better it feels in the long run. It's painful. It's excruciating. You might experience a weird burning sensation that is more painful than everything else put together (Updated: the nerves again!). But it goes away, and each time you walk it will go away more quickly. I tried to get up and walk the hallways at the hotel every hour or so. Make your spouse or whoever is taking care of you make you do it. There were many times I wouldn't have done it without Chris, and I'm glad he was there. On the drive home, we stopped for about 20-30 minutes every two hours. If you’re flying, be sure to walk the aisles regularly. Don’t worry about what anyone thinks of you, limping along, walking slowly, hunched over, clutching your travel pillow. You will never see these people again, and you need to take care of youself. Just do it!

6. Don't overdo it.
You don't want you incision to open up, and you don't want the pain to become unbearable. If you overdo it, you'll be less likely to want to move around again in an hour, and in the long run that will prolong your healing time.

7. Drink lots of water and eat healthy food with lots of fiber.
Don't eat heavy, rich foods before or after the surgery. You won't poop for a few days anyway. Eating light foods - avoiding fried food or any of that food that makes you tired afterward - and drinking lots and lots of water will help you work through it. So say no to that hamburger and yes to that grilled salmon salad. Or something. I started taking Colace three days before the surgery and am continuing now. For what it's worth, I still haven't pooped...but it's not painful. Yet. UPDATE: I pooped. It was horrifically painful. I cried. I should have followed my own advice more. So to this I add: Drink MORE water. MORE. Have a water bottle with you at all times for the few days leading up to the surgery, bring a water bottle to the hospital, and have one with you when you leave. Make sure it's always full, and always be drinking from it. Also, eat lots of high-fiber foods. Raisins. Prune juice. FiberOne bars. Whatever it takes! And maybe take some of your drugs before you go for the first time. Note: If you are having your surgery at UCM, they don't give you a water bottle. You get a pitcher and paper cups. I should have brought one with me to the hospital to make drinking while laying down easier.

8. Go pee regularly once your catheter is out.
I don't know if this is universal, but for me, the pressure of a full bladder is really, really uncomfortable and actually makes standing and walking painful. So go pee right when you first feel that little tingle to avoid it. Keeping your bladder as empty as possible will keep you comfortable. And besides, you should be walking all the time anyway. ;)

9. Stretchy, comfy clothes.
I wore the hospital gown the entire time I was at the hospital. Once I got discharged, I changed into lounge pants, a tank top, and a sweater. I bought the lounge pants at Target the day before we left in a size larger than normal (they tie so I can cinch them tighter if needed). I can wear them above the incision or below and they're perfect. I have a million pairs of these Supersoft Hiphuggers from Victoria's Secret and they are the perfect post-surgery underwear. No tight elastic and they sit higher than the incision so there's no rubbing. I also brought a light summer dress (like this chemise from Anthropologie; thank you birthday gift cards!) that would have been completely perfect and I wouldn't have to worry about the waistline irritating the incision, but I never wore it. Truth be told, I barely changed. I wore one outfit on the drive down, lounge pants and a tank to the surgery, that same lounge pants and tank home to the hotel, and then stayed in same outfit for the next two days. I know, I'm dirty. I changed into different pants and a tank for the drive home, more for the sake of anyone I might run into at rest stops than my own. Looking like a dirty hobo who hasn't washed her hair in days for my husband is one thing, but for the general public I'd prefer a slightly cleaner reputation.

10. Get a Brazilian wax.
I'll give you a second to compose yourself. But seriously. It helped. Well, it didn't help, I guess, but it definitely prevented some uncomfortableness and pain. You don't have to go full Brazilian, but getting rid of the hair around where the incision was going to be definitely made life easier for both me and the surgical staff. When they pulled off the bandage, it didn't hurt at all, since there was no hair for the tape to pull out. Before the surgery, the staff didn't have to shave or clean up the area at all. I guess usually they shave it, and then use strong tape to pull up any remaining hairs, so basically a wax anyway. Might as well get it done by a pro! One of the nurses asked if I got it done just for the surgery, and said she always tells friends to do it when they're having C-sections or other surgeries in the same area. And yes, it's pretty painful if you've never had one before. But compared to the surgery itself, it's a piece of cake. Take a few ibuprofen, forcefully breathe out with each strip getting pulled off, and if you're really worried use some of this.

11. If your surgery is at UCM, use valet parking.
It's cheaper than the parking garage (for all time periods) once you get it validated from the hospital.

That's really about it. I slept most of the time in the hospital, so I didn't have to worry too much about entertaining myself. When I was awake, I watched bad TV or read a book. Chris got a new computer game just before he left so he played that pretty much the entire time and was glad for an excuse to sit around and play it. We brought a bunch of movies and TV shows and I downloaded a ton of books for the Kindle, but we ended up not really needing most of it. Your experience might be different, though, so I'd take all that you can. Better too much to do than to end up bored!

If anyone has any questions at all, please feel free to ask! Trisha is a great resource as well, especially if you're having it placed during pregnancy. Just know that you will hurt. You will be swollen. It will burn (though I still don't know exactly what is causing that). But quite literally, it gets about 50% better each day.

All in all, I think it's pretty obvious that this will be well worth it once we've got our one or two or three or four kids running around the house. Knock on wood, cross your fingers, and all that.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Superhero: The TAC Details

I now have a bionic cervix. Does that make me a superhero? A super woman who is now able to carry a child to term! Oh, wait. That's most women.

Prior to heading out to Chicago, I'd read other stories of the surgery - particularly Trisha's and Jaded's - and had very specific ideas about what to expect. None of them truly prepared me for the excruciating pain. I don't think that it's possible to really wrap your head around it unless you're actually experiencing it. I was also expecting a ton of waiting and it to be loud and busy and crazy, but since I was the first surgery of the day, it was the opposite. Yes, we had to check in at 6am, which meant waking up at 5am, but it was well worth it. We didn't have to really wait at all, and everything proceeded on time. Highly recommended to get that slot if you can swing it.

We left Omaha Wednesday afternoon to drive out to Chicago, which took about an hour and a half longer due to tons of construction. On the way there, I got a call from the hospital asking if I'd consent to having my surgery photographed for some magazine. Of course I said yes - I'm all for educating anyone I can about the TAC. I told Trisha about it and she joked that my cervix would now be bionic AND famous. Autographs, anyone?

Once we arrived in Chicago, we got some deep dish pizza (can you go to Chicago without doing that?), checked into the hotel, and grabbed a few hours of sleep. I wasn't nervous at all, surprisingly. The next morning we woke up early, around 5:30, and headed to the hospital. We found the parking garage right away, and note: you do have to pay to park. I just small town spoiled? Paying to park at a hospital? Valet is actually cheaper, so I recommend that, and obviously that has the advantage of delivering you right to the door.

Once we checked in, Chris was given some paperwork to read over and a code that he could use to check my progress on a monitor. I was called to pre-op almost immediately with three other patients who were also having various surgeries. They set me up in a little curtained-off area with a recliner where I changed into the hospital gown, was given an IV, took a pregnancy test (which I knew would be negative, sob) and answered a bunch of questions about my medical history. When she was putting in the IV, she couldn't do it in the back of my hand like she prefers, because I have "tiny" veins. She has to do it in the crook of my elbow, which meant I had to keep my arm straight...a problem since they put it in my left arm and I'm left handed. So ouch. After about 45 minutes, they brought Chris back to wait with me. Dr. Haney, a few of his staff, the anesthesiologist, and a few residents talked to us, answering any questions we had and giving the details of how the next two days would progress. I was under the impression that I'd be given the choice between general anesthesia and a spinal, but I don't remember them actually asking. I told them about my bad epidural experience, so maybe they made the choice for me based on that. The nurse then walked me back to the OR room, and Chris went back to the waiting room.

The OR room was just like in the movies - bright white, big lights, bed in the middle of the room. It was a little surreal. They strapped me onto the bed with my arms out, crucifix style...and that's the last thing I remember.

The surgery took about two hours - longer than average thanks to my severely retroverted uterus. After it was over and I was in recovery, Dr. Haney talked to Chris for about 20 minutes and let him know that the surgery went well, and they talked about the loss that we experienced. Dr. Haney told Chris that while I was going under I was chanting to the staff, "Let's do this! Yeah! Bionic Cervix! Whoo!" and got them all excited. Don't ever give me drugs. When I woke up, I was in a recovery room and Chris was next to me. I remember very little about the next few hours. I felt really shitty. My stomach didn't hurt - but my head was groggy and I felt dizzy and nauseated, like a really bad hangover. I was in recovery for about three hours, and drifted in and out of consciousness for most of it. I vaguely remember Chris taking this picture of me and asking if I looked cute. Obviously the answer is a resounding NO, but he said yes like a good husband. That black cord I'm clutching for dear life is the pain pump. I could press a button every eight minutes to dispense pain meds.

After I was deemed sufficiently awake, the transporter (sadly, not Jason Statham) wheeled us across the hospital complex to my recovery room in maternity. It shows how far I've come in my grief that it only momentarily bothered me. The last time I was in a maternity room was after delivering Caleb.

Chris brought up a body pillow, another pillow, and a blanket that we'd brought from home. Best idea EVER. I would not have been even the slightest bit comfortable without those things. We spent the day watching TV, movies, and I slept on and off. Chris played Civilization 5, and I think he was glad to have an excuse to be off work and play a computer game all day. ;) In terms of pain, there was actually very little from the incision. However, I was extremely dizzy and felt sick whenever I moved my head. I attempted to have some water and a bit of a smoothie, and immediately threw it up. Hours later I tried to eat dinner, and threw that up too. The puking is what caused my incision to hurt - without that, I would have still been fine, pain-wise. Of course, that also could have been thanks to the pain pump. Since after dinner I was still feeling dizzy and nauseous, the anesthesia resident came to check on me. I had to get my blood pressure taken laying down, sitting up, and standing. Standing, it was 90/60, which I thought was low, but apparently it was okay. The resident said I was just taking a long time to recover from the anesthesia - that is, after grilling me to make sure I wasn't suffering from drug withdrawls. "Could you be suffering from withdrawl from anything? Do you take any illegal drugs? Be honest." Yes, ma'am. The lack of heroin at the hospital is positively disgraceful! Ok, I shouldn't laugh. I know people lie about drug use all the time at hospitals. But I'm me, and I'm so not a drug user...I don't even drink caffeine. (Not because I'm some crazy health nut, but because it upsets my stomach, so you can go back to not being impressed.) That was the first time I'd sat up or stood and it hurt like a mother effer.

Shortly thereafter, around 10:30, Chris headed over to the hotel to sleep for the night. I fell asleep right after he left, but woke up off and on until about 3am, when I woke up for good. I passed the time reading and watching TV, which was difficult since I had the IV in my left arm and had to keep it straight. Every time I bent it, an alarm would go off and I had to call the nurse to turn it off. A catheter had been placed during the surgery (while I was out of it), and I hadn't even realized it until a few hours into the day. At one point I felt like I had to pee really badly, which I knew wasn't right because of the catheter (which, by the way, I couldn't feel at all and didn't hurt a bit). I had to call the nurse yet again - I think I was a "problem" patient - and it turned out the tubing had gotten tangled so it wasn't draining correctly. The relief I felt after she untangled it was amazing. I wouldn't mind having one of those all the time, you know, minus the whole having to carry around a pee bag thing.

At 4am - almost a full day after the surgery and a little over twelve hours since I'd been in recovery - the nurse came to remove the IV and catheter. Neither hurt, but since I was still feeling dizzy from the drugs, the nurse decided to keep the IV cap in just in case I couldn't keep down the pain pills and they needed to do intravenous drugs again. Luckily, I was able to keep down two Percocet. Just after that, I had to get up to pee, which was again excruciating. It was actually kind of funny (the situation, not the pain), because I couldn't go. I could feel it right there, but nothing was the nurse ran some water and put my hand in warm water. Is that funny just to me? That nurses use frat party tricks to make you pee? Okay then.

After that she had me sit in the chair for a few hours. Apparently I was supposed to have done that the day before, but due to the dizzy spells didn't want to risk it. Around seven I got back in bed and tried to get some more sleep. Dr. Haney came and talked to me for almost an hour around 8am to make sure I didn't have any more questions. We talked a bit about the sad state of treatment for second trimester losses. Chris made it back to the hospital around 9:30 (after leaving an hour earlier... Chicago traffic!), just in time to miss both Dr. Haney and a crying jag, after I'd asked twice for more pain pills and over an hour later they still hadn't arrived. That was the only real failing of the hospital, and the nurse apologized profusely when she finally showed up. I had some breakfast - about one bite of sausage and one bite of French toast - I just wasn't hungry at all. I was able to keep that down, so they decided I was okay to be discharged. They removed the IV cap, I changed into my street clothes, got one last dose of Percocet, and waited for the transporter to arrive to wheel us out to the car. I was still feeling the incision from puking, and was still dizzy and feeling slightly nauseous. However, as you can tell from the picture, I felt a lot better.

The ride to the hotel sucked for obvious reasons, as did the walk from the parking garage to the hotel room. I'm sure I looked like total hell and like someone fresh of a bender or something. Chris made me get up and walk around the room every hour or so, and oh my god. I don't know exactly what caused it, but Trish said she had it too, so it must be normal, but there was this burning sensation that was beyond excruciating. It wasn't at the site of the incision, but off to the side. I have no idea what it was, but I still feel it occasionally, and it's the most painful part. I kept taking two Percocet every few hours until I passed out for the night.

The next morning (this morning) I woke up and could tell it felt a ton better already. I still have slight dizziness occasionally and the incision is still painful, but the terrible burning sensation is mostly gone. Don't get me wrong - walking around still sucks. And my back is killing me from walking around stooped over. But compared to yesterday I already feel better. I haven't had any discharge or bleeding, which I know some women experience. I bought an abdominal binder that is specifically for use after C-sections and abdominal surgery, which has helped quite a bit by supporting it and offering constant pressure. I also take a travel pillow with me to press against it when I am standing up or coughing or whatever. Each time I walk it's really painful for the first few steps, then gets progressively better. Right now, it's a toss up between what hurts worst - my back or my incision. I'm down to one Percocet every three hours. The bottle actually says one pill every four to six hours, but the hospital said one to two every three or four hours, and I called my best pharmacist friend and he told me that what the hospital said is fine, especially for just a few days. They gave me 50 pills, which means I'll have plenty left over to sell on the black market. Takers?

I keep half joking to Chris that I'd better get fucking pregnant now that I've gone through this. And I will say that I'm now scared of the C-sections that I'll be having in the future...this is painful shit! And to do this on top of having a newborn? Yikes. I don't know how people do it. Maybe the newborn cuteness acts as a numbing agent or something.

So now I just wait. Wait to feel back to normal, wait to get knocked up, wait to put this damn thing to use. Oh, and wait to shower. I am grosssssss right now.

Friday, October 1, 2010

I'm TACed!

I now have a bionic and famous cervix! It's 3am here and I can't sleep, but I also cam barely type thanks to an lV, so I'll write out the surgery story later and tell you why my cervix will soon be signing autographs.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone