Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy (?) New Year's!

I read a lot of blogs, and as the year comes to a close, many of them are doing some sort of "Year in Review" post.  I'm not going to do that; her or on The Great Cakescapade.  Why?  Because 'm not looking back, only forward.  Closing the door, completely, on 2012 will be the best thing I can do to get 2013 off to a good start.

I gave up on making resolutions several years ago.  Instead, I've just tried to be better and do better than the year before.  Last year, I made a vision board.  A vision board is a visual collage to motivate you for the year.  I'll be doing that again this year, only I plan to kick it up a notch from the cut up magazine page version I made last year.  I also plan to do some journaling.  I like the idea of a gratitude journal, where you write down one thing for which you are grateful every day.  I also like the Project Life items, and the idea of capturing your life throughout the year, but want a more free form approach.  I have a few ideas in mind, and plan to work on my 2013-book-of-whatever tomorrow.  If I like what I come up with, I may share bits and pieces here.

I also plan to live by the following Maya Angelou quote:

                    "I can be changed by what happens to me.  I refuse to be reduced by it".

Here's to a Happy 2013, and may your wishes, hopes, dreams, and prayers come true!  See ya next year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


"Christmas just ain't Christmas, without the one you love." -- The O'Jays

Friday, December 21, 2012

Walking in Someone Else's Shoes

In my last post, I posted a the poem "My Shoes", and how no one willingly wears the shoes of a mother who's lost a child.  This is true.  But last night, I really and truly realized that you never know what it's like to walk in someone else's, anyone else's shoes.

Last night, I went to a cookie exchange party, and despite my intentions to not "do" the holidays this year, had a good time.  Obviously, cookies make everything better.  Anyway, as things were winding down, someone asked the host how a mutual friend/acquaintance of all the attendees was doing since giving birth recently.

I'll stop right here to be perfectly honest.  I was due to have Morgan just four days after she was to have her twins.  When it was time for me to go back to school, I dreaded seeing her around.  And, there has been more than one occasion in the past five months that I've been extremely jealous and asked, "Why me?  Why not her?"  After all, two women, three babies; more than enough to go around, right?  I have always known these kinds of thoughts were mean, and spiteful.  I truly wouldn't wish the loss of a baby on anyone.  Those feelings came from my own anger and despair, and weren't "real" feelings, if you will.

I figured this question about the new babies would come up at some point in the evening, and was kind of prepared for it.  I wasn't prepared for the answer.  It turns out that she's having a really tough time, both emotionally and physically.  On the one hand, I felt bas as anyone would when hearing that kind of news.  And on the other hand, I really felt bad knowing the little ball of negative emotions I've harbored toward this woman...her growing belly...her growing family.

And it's not just her.  Every pregnant woman I see, or every woman with a baby, I can always find at least one reason why she shouldn't be a mom, but I should.  Last week, either in the airport or on the train home, I encountered three women with infants, and wondered "Why them, not me?"  The woman with the full five-o-clock shadow?  Surely, her hormones are imbalanced.  The 3-generational family on the train with a toddler and small infant out at 10pm in the cold?  Were they really able to provide properly for their child?  The couple at the airport, preparing to take their tiny newborn daughter, still curled into the fetal position on an airplane?  Didn't they know all of the germs and coughing on a plane would make her sick?  After an afternoon of "Why them, not me?", instead of greeting my husband with a big hug and kiss, I burst into uncontrollable tears at the curb. While I would have loved to have walked in the shoes of any of these women to complete my own pregnancy and bring my baby home, walking in their shoes would also mean going through whatever else they went through to get pregnant and bring their babies home, and also whatever issues they may now be dealing with.

As I've tried to work through these feelings many times over the past few months, my husband has tried over and over to tell me that I don't know these people's stories.  I don't know what goes on on the other side of their front door.  And that is so true.  You might think the grass is greener, but that might just be astroturf.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

"My Shoes"

My feet hurt.  Not literally, but figuratively.  I've heard this poem read, and just came across it in print. Wearing these shoes hurts, even when sitting.  Especially when sitting in an airport, waiting to go home after a maternal and child health conference where I AM the sad statistics presented.  Especially when sitting in an airport, and every happy family with a little baby girl wants to sit right next to me or directly across from me.

I don't know who the original author of this poem is, and I google it to find "Author Unknown".  But I, too, wear these shoes.

My 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 other's eyes that they are glad they are my shoes 
and not theirs. They never talk about my shoes. To learn how awful my shoes are might make them 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 to walk in them. Some have learned how to walk in them so that they don't hurt quite so 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.

Monday, December 3, 2012

This Time Last Year

It was this time last year that we officially started trying to have a baby.  We were so excited and optimistic that by the same time in 2012, we'd be parents.  We ARE parents, but it's just not the same when your baby's not with you...

Thursday, November 29, 2012


December 10.  For four and a half months, I could not wait for December 10.  For the last four and a half months, I've been dreading it.  Now, it's almost here.  Morgan's due date.

Of the two of us, my husband has always been a little bit grinchy.  While I've never been one to go overboard, I do enjoy the holiday festivities.  Not this year.  This year, I plan to completely ignore it, as much as that's possible when candy canes are set out as appetizers to the Thanksgiving turkey (retail wise, that is).  Our little girl was supposed to be our Christmas present this year; the best present we could ever have gotten.  Yet now we don't even have a lump of freaking coal, and it sucks.

The baby loss world is full of these vague articles on how to deal with the holidays after a loss.  Be gentle with yourself, don't feel obligated to attend parties, etc.  But what do you DO?  There are never any action items.  I guess I'll be in  hiding, and do nothing.  The weekend of the due date, we've been invited to three separate festive functions, and all invitations have been declined.  If the gloom I've felt this week since Thanksgiving is any indication, the hosts will not want me at their functions, anyway.

I've just been in a weepy funk the past few days.  Everything seems to set me off.  When I say everything, I mean the everyday things that I shouldn't be doing because I'm supposed to be pregnant.  For example, we went to my mom's in Florida for Thanksgiving.  We even spent Black Friday at the beach!  But the whole time, I couldn't help but think how I wasn't supposed to be there.  I was supposed to be almost 38 weeks pregnant; I was not supposed to be 6 hours from home.  The extra tacky, cheap baby toys they sell at the grocery store...the baby girl that the department sponsored for the holiday angel tree...the Christmas cookie onesie that's packed away under our every time I turn on the car, a Christmas song blares at me.  I actually drove around in silence for three days because I don't have any CDs in the car.  Oh yeah... the brand new car we got exactly one week before she died.

They...the ones that have been here before...say that the anticipation of the due date is worse than the actual day.  I really hope this is true.  But really, I just want to go to sleep and not wake up until 2013.  Maybe just the hope of a new year will make things seem fresh and new.  We started 2012 with such optimism.  We were so sure that by the start of 2013 we'd have a little person in our home, or at least have one on the way.  But hear we are, on the cusp of a new year, and it's still just the two of us.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

So Hurt

Ya know what?  I'm going to stop making proclamations about how things are getting better.  Each time, almost as soon as I hit the button to publish a post, something happens.  I'm just going to keep my mouth shut.

On Monday, we attended our support group.  The discussion usually bounces across a couple of topics, and it happened to land on how support after the loss of a baby can come from the most unexpected places, and how you'll be most disappointed with those closest to you.  Over the past few months, I've heard or read so many of the most insensitive things that have been done or said to grieving parents.  And I've always thanked my lucky stars that no one had said anything terrible to me.  I guess I was wrong.  My husband had it on his heart to share, and it happened to be something hurtful that his grandmother said about me shortly after Morgan's death.  She told him "...maybe your wife's just not a breeder."  WTF??!!@#$!!

Of course, as he'd never shared this with me, my head jerked up, jaw dropped, all that.  My first thought was that she made me sound like a cow!  As the comment kept rolling around in my head, I realized that I was beyond hurt.  Though delayed, in one fell swoop, she hit on two of my biggest insecurities and fears surrounding our situation: that it was my fault, and that we won't be able to successfully have children of our own.

Logically, I know that what happened is not my fault.  But, deep down, or maybe not so deep, I do feel that ultimately, any blame falls on me.  If not for anything I did, then for what I didn't do.  I didn't know that my body was slowly but surely preparing to spit my little girl out onto the ground.  Where was my mother's intuition?  Hell, where was the epidemiologist in me?  Oh, yeah.  I told her to go take a hike back in April.  But, really.  How could I not feel broken, or defective?  My body truly failed my little girl when she needed it the most.  I couldn't keep her safe.  That, my friends, can not be denied.

Then, there's the future looming ahead of us.  I want so badly to have our little family.  We waited quite a while before trying to conceive Morgan.  We were waiting for the "right time."  And when she was conceived, the timing relative to just about everything seemed absolutely perfect.  Now, though I know I'm not nearly ready to try again emotionally, it doesn't look like the "perfect" time will be back for a while.  With me getting closer to finishing school, and starting to look for a real job, the window will be pushed until at least the middle or end of next year.  Meanwhile, I'm not getting younger.  Conceiving wasn't an issue this time, but what about next time?  In addition, IC is not something that heals or goes away.  It reoccurs, and it occurs at the same gestational age.  Though a preventive cerclage is 80% successful, there's still a chance that we may not get our rainbow baby.  At any rate, it won't be anytime soon.

I tried to explain to Chris why I was so hurt.  While he said that his grandma's comment hurt him too, I don't know if he quite got where I was coming from.  My entire life, I've always been on the fringe, never quite fitting in anywhere.  The fat one, the Black one, the nerdy one, the quiet one.  The one whose baby died.  I've always been "the one."  And so, I've also spent a lot of time pretending I didn't care what people said about me behind my back.  Often, I really didn't care.  But, just as often, I did.  And that's why this comment hurt so much.  Because now, of all times, we need good people in our corner; on our side.  I don't know if I can deal with going to family get togethers where it feels like everyone is whispering about me behind my back.  I told Chris that this was one time I'm glad we don't live near his family.  I don't know that I could carry on as usual, knowing what she said.  Hopefully, once some time goes by, I'll cool off.  It's been two days already, and she said this three months ago. Right now I'm still hot, but with time...

Monday, November 12, 2012

I Don't Know What to Say

I really don't know what to say.  About once a week, I think that I should post something.  But, there's usually not much to write about.  Every now and then, something will happen that I think might be blog worthy, but don't write anything.  As I've written previously, I think I've turned a corner in my grief.  There are still triggers, sad moments, and crying jags.  But, I'm no longer so full of the cup runneth over grief, anger, and sadness that had me writing every few days.

I've never been much of a writer, really.  Obviously, I'm a writer in the sense that I can put words on a page just fine.  I have two blogs.  But, writing has never been my passion.  I never kept a diary growing up.  I tried a couple of times, because that's what I thought young girls were supposed to do.  But after an entry or two, it would fall to the wayside.  I've always been more of a reader.

So, yeah.  I've never wanted to write the next bestseller.  Though, lately, I have wanted to write a book on cervical insufficiency.  It's really bothered me that there's so little information on IC out there for the lay reader.  What is out there is the bare minimum, and once you've read one pamphlet or book section, you've read them all.  They're not very informative or particularly helpful. Parents in the thick of a pregnancy crisis don't have time to hunt down and interpret the medical literature.  And since most folks don't subscribe to medical journals, the $30 per article access fee is more than ridiculous. I imagine writing a book that would provide ALL the information to parents who need it.  I don't want to overload readers with medical jargon, yet I don't want to dumb it down to nothing.

So dear readers, what do you think?  Should I continue blogging here?  I'm not sure how some of you found this blog, but it seems like readership is on track to surpass my happy little baking blog, though nothing much is going on over there, either.  It seems like most infertility or baby loss blogs end when the rainbow baby is born.  I'm not pregnant, and don't intend to be anytime soon, so that's not the reason for my dwindling posts.  Maybe this blog has served its purpose?  Or maybe it's like those childhood diaries...temporary?  Maybe writing that book is the next chapter?  I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter =).

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Turning a Corner, Maybe?

It's been nearly 3 and a half months, now, and I feel like I've turned a corner.  The grief is not so ever present, and many days feel like "ordinary" days.  Of course, there are still the not so great days, and her due date STILL has not come.  I'm sure that day will be like losing Morgan all over again.  Yet days like today, which could have been a humdinger, aren't quite so bad.

For example, a package from Gerber came in the mail today.  I don't remember requesting anything, but it sure took them long enough to send these two giant cans of formula (which I'll donate to a charity or something)!  Then, a few hours later, an email that JCPenney is giving away free family portraits in November arrived.  Of course, Morgan wasn't supposed to be here yet to take pictures, but I'd already imagined how cute she'd be in pictures wearing the Christmas onesie I bought just a few weeks after finding out I was pregnant. (Yes, I bought a Christmas onesie in May.  It was on clearance, super cute, and perfect for her due date. LOL.)  But see, I can LOL now.  A few weeks ago, either of these things happening would have ruined the rest of my day.  Both in one day?  That would have been a wrap.  Today, I took a moment, gathered myself, and kept going.

I'll probably regret this post tomorrow, when something craptastic happens.  But for now, I believe things are getting better.  Things are going well school wise, and it has me thinking that it's time to start job hunting!  The sooner that happens, the sooner a rainbow may appear in the sky!

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Sometimes, I feel as if I'm stuck in a never ending gestation.  When you think of a year, or the 9 months of pregnancy, it doesn't seem like that long of a time, does it?  Ordinarily, that amount of time would fly by.  Every year, I say, "It's Christmas again, already?", or some other similar comment.

Now, all I can think of is how slow the time is passing.  I guess this is becoming a theme here on the blog: how slowly time is moving.  There's still another six weeks until the day we were supposed to welcome our little girl into our family, yet it seem she's been gone for so long.  The first half of the pregnancy flew by.  April, May, June, then July.  Each month passed in an instant.  I guess time really does fly when you're having fun, because August, September, and October have each felt like a year.  Though the pain of Morgan's passing is not quite as raw as it once was, I remember every detail of that night as if were last night.  I probably always will.  But right now, I just need January to arrive.  Will the New Year be a happy one? Maybe.  Hopefully.  We had such high expectations for 2012, and for a while, it looked like some of our dreams were coming true.  Maybe in 2013, we can awake from the nightmare that 2012 has become.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Good Husbands are Priceless

I just want to express how great my husband is.  He's always been a great husband, and he made me remember how wonderful he is when I was pregnant.  From the moment we got a positive pregnancy test, he basically did everything for us: cook, clean, grocery shop.  You name it, he did it.  All I did was sleep.  He was so good to me that I absolutely felt sorry for women who had to deal with the blech of the first trimester without a loving husband.  I mean, I would've been sitting on a pile of old pizza boxes, wearing dirty clothes, if he weren't around.

Then, when I went on bed rest, he is the one who took care of me.  He made sure I had food, drinks, entertainment; he even helped me go to the bathroom in the middle of the night right after surgery! And, after Morgan's death, he continued to take care of me.  Even now, he still takes care of me.  Don't get me wrong, I'm back in the groove of everyday life, but he takes care of me emotionally too, even though I haven't done a good job of doing the same for him.

This post has no real point other than I wanted to brag on him for a minute.  Since we lost Morgan, I've spent a good bit of time in the pregnancy loss/grief boards on BabyCenter.  There's always a mom sharing how her husband just doesn't understand the depths of her pain and expects her to be normal again, right away.  I keep hearing that men just grieve differently...blah, blah, blah, but some of these guys are just jerks and IMO, weren't ready to be fathers.  I could not imagine what it must be like to deal with a loss and have a crappy husband.  We do grieve differently, yes.  But in no way has he tried to discount my grief and make me get over it.  He does seem to be able to better hold it together than I can, but I know he still has good days and bad days, just like me.

To the bereaved significant others (husband, boyfriend, whatever): Be there for your wife! Your attachment to your expected baby may not be as strong as hers, after all, you didn't carry that great blessing around with you every second of every day.  Let her grieve, in whatever (non-harmful) way she sees fit.  Try to cheer her up, if possible, but don't try to fix her.  She'll never be the woman she was.

To my husband: I just want you to know how much I truly love you and appreciate you, and everything you have done for me.  You are what keeps me going.  We missed out this time on being able to watch our little girl grow up.  I missed out on getting to watch you get wrapped around her little fingers.  But, I know that one day, we'll have our chance.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Walk to Remember

Today was the Atlanta Walk to Remember.  It was a beautiful opportunity for parents, family members, and friends to remember the sweet little babies they lost.  I didn't need to walk to remember Morgan, I remember her with every breath I take. But, it was nice to be amongst a group of people who knew exactly what I was feeling when I cried as I watched our balloon float away.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Helpful and Hopeful Resources

It feels like I haven't had much to say lately.  It felt like I hadn't posted in forever, but my last post was just on October 1.  that tells you what kind of weird space/time continuum I live in.  Anyway, in that time period that I thought was so long, I thought about shutting this blog down if I wasn't going to write anything.  But, last night, at my support group, I met a woman who had actually found it on her own, and read it, and said it helped her.  Soooo..., if my venting/free therapy can help just one other person, I'll keep going.

I still don't have much to say, but I thought I would share some resources that have helped me.  Please note that I am not endorsing these books, blogs, or websites in any way.  Some that helped early on, don't help me now, for example.  But each, in its own way, has led me to something else that has helped.

Support Groups
I think that support groups are the most valuable thing I've come across.  I currently attend two groups that meet monthly, and would attend weekly if I could.  I find the support groups are helpful in seeing that we're not the only people to go through this, and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  Our first attendance at a group meeting was just 2-3 weeks after Morgan's death, and at the time, I didn't see how I could ever rejoin the real world.  It was so helpful to meet a woman who'd had a stillbirth in the spring, and in August, she was walking, talking, and smiling.  Not a blubbering mess!

If you're in the Atlanta area:
Caring and Coping - This group is hosted by the Northside Hospital Perinatal Loss Office.  This is more of a free form/say what's on your mind group, but I like it because it's open to the entire (adult) family, so my husband and I can attend together.  The Perinatal Loss Office maintains a website with links to parents' blogs, baby loss memento shops, and other things that may be helpful.

SHARE Atlanta - This is a women's only group, though female members of your support system are welcome.  SHARE has more of a topical format, with each month covering a different aspect of the grieving/ baby loss walk.  The SHARE Facebook page is updated more frequently than the website.  If you'd like to attend, you'll need to email Marcia McGinnis for the address and directions.

**There's also a national baby loss organization called Share.  I'm not sure if they're connected in any way.

Baby Dust: A Novel About Miscarriage and Stillbirth by Deanna Roy 
This book is a fictionalized mash-up of the stories of many women combined into the characters of several women who meet at a pregnancy loss support group.  This book was more about women who experienced a miscarriage, but the emotional journey is still there.

An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination: A Memoir by Elizabeth McCracken 
This book is, as the title implies, a memoir.  The author and her husband experienced a post-term stillbirth, and this book covers the experience of losing their first baby, as well as the journey through an emotionally charged second pregnancy.

Baby Bumps: The Almost, Barely, Not-Quite-True Story of Pregnancy, Bed Rest and One Batshit Crazy Family by Amy Sprenger

I read this one, and almost stopped reading it several times.  Again, the title tells you this is fiction. It's not just "names have been changed" fiction.  This one deals specifically with incompetent cervix, and the author actually experienced IC herself.  However, this book made me angry, as the main character, Annie, is the only one I felt was "batshit crazy".  I guess the author wanted to put out a lighter hearted view of what happened to her, but Annie's vanity and selfishness really turned me off.  The bones of this story mirrored our situation (except they got a happy ending; sorry for the spoiler), and I know what I was feeling at the time, and this chick just didn't get it.  I guess this book wasn't very helpful, but I'm just putting it out there.

I haven't read this one yet, but it's on my list, maybe.  This one was recommended to me with the caveat that the language was pretty bad.  Looking at the website/blog, I was initially interested, but didn't want to buy it.  Looking at the site again today, after reading Baby Bumps, I may not want to read it after all. Grief and gross humor just don't do it for me, I guess.  Again, just putting it out there.

Unfortunately, there have not been any medically grounded/self help type books that I've found helpful.    This is mainly because IC is not discussed very much in these types of books.  This means that I get my info straight from the medical journals, which isn't exactly light reading!

Blogs and Websites
After spending months on this site, planning your baby's arrival, you'd think this is the last place you'd turn to for comfort after your baby's death.  However, they have several message boards and groups dedicated to Miscarriage and Stillbirth, 2nd/3rd Trimester Loss, TTC after 2nd/3rd trimester loss, Bereaved Parents, and for me, a Cervical Incompetence group.  What I like most is that unlike other baby sites (ahem, like The Bump) no one is snarky or rude in any of these groups.  Helpful hint: try setting your browser bookmark so that it goes directly to the groups page, so you can avoid all the happy crap on the homepage.

Still Standing Magazine
An online magazine with many many articles written by parents dealing with pregnancy loss, child loss, and infertility.  Not every article hits home, but so many do, even when the situation is not the same.

Northside Perinatal Loss Office
As mentioned above, there site is a great resource to finding other blogs.

Baby Loss Blogs
I'm not listing blogs here specifically because there are so many, and each is helpful in its own way.  I also don't list them because many are inactive.  Once the families have their rainbow babies, they abandon the sad blog and create a new happy blog.  I tend to get addicted to my blogs, and get sad when they end, but I'm glad to see happy endings do happen the next time.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Some Holes Can't be Filled

If you're reading this blog, you likely already know that October is Perinatal and Infant Loss Awareness Month.  This morning, I posted to Facebook to let others know this, and asked my FB friends to say a prayer for families who will always have a hole where their babies should be.  A FB friend, a family member, actually, commented that the hole would be filled again someday.  I know her heart was in the right place, but NO!  There will always be a hole in my heart where Morgan should be.    That part of us will always miss our little baby girl.  There will always be an empty seat, figuratively, or perhaps even literally, for her at our table.

I'm sure there will come a day when we can laugh and smile with other people.  Where we can look fondly at others with their babies and young children and smile.  But that day is not today.  It won't be tomorrow,  and it won't be anytime soon.

I pressed enter on that FB post before I could ask that folks acknowledge those babies that were lost.  Don't act as if the baby never happened, or wasn't lost.  It's probably easier for friends and acquaintances to ignore the fact that I was once pregnant, but now I'm not.  They probably think they're sparing my feelings by not bringing it up.  But, I WANT to talk about Morgan.  I want her to be remembered.  She touched my life, and through me, will touch the world.  Because of her, I'm changed.  I can't guarantee that I won't burst into tears, but I can't ignore her affects on my life.  From what I've read on other blogs and forums, this is true for many who've lost babies.

Rambling aside, my point here is that the Morgan shaped hole in my heart, in our family, will never be filled.  We may have other children, but they can't and won't replace Morgan.  Each member of our family is and will be a uniquely shaped piece of the puzzle.  Our puzzle began with two pieces.  Together, we carved out a randomly shaped third piece for Morgan.  Someday, another randomly shaped piece or two will be carved out as well.  Handcrafted, and forged with love, no pieces will be the same.  Our future little puzzle pieces will be loved no more or no less than Morgan's piece.  The other pieces will just have a little more tarnish, a little more wear and tear, because we'll have more time  to show our love.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Time Marches On

It's been 8 weeks since Morgan left us.  I wake up every Saturday morning and mark her "birthday".  I think of how old she'd be.  Of what she'd look like now.  While those thoughts are somewhat of a fantasy, they're not really upsetting until I snap back to reality and think that she should still be in my belly, rolling and kicking away.  Will I ever be able to really enjoy Saturdays again?  How long until I lose track of exactly how many weeks it's been?  Will it be like it is for parents of living children -- 2 weeks, 6 weeks, 6 then 18 months, 3 years?

This weekend, I marked week 8.  Eight weeks gone, yet eight weeks still until term.  I think one of the worst parts now of my losing Morgan at 20 weeks is the symmetry of time.  I found out about my little stowaway when I was not quite five weeks pregnant.  We lost her at not quite 21, so we were aware of her presence for 16 weeks.  She's been gone half as long as we knew about her.  When the other half of that time has passed, we still won't be quite at her due date.  Twenty weeks with her, twenty weeks without her.  Then, a lifetime without her.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Some people are just mean spirited

Some people are just mean.  Downright cruel, even.  A couple of days ago, I was reading a blog post about a 61 year old woman serving as a surrogate for her daughter, who had been unable to carry a baby to term.  The blog authors posed the question of whether the readers would use a surrogate or act as a surrogate for another family.

Now, I know the anonymity of the internet lets people say a whole lot of smack they wouldn't say to your face, but one reader, "James P.", takes the cake.  He first implied that people who pass over adoption in favor of alternative means to a biological child to complete their families are SELFISH, and then also said "I bet infertility is one of the ways God is merciful to children who have parents unwilling or unable to care for them.".

Are you serious?  Even before our situation occurred, I've always noticed how seemingly easy it is for those who are obviously bad parents to have children.  This morning, while scanning the news, I found this story about a woman who lied to her husband about their baby dying in utero, but she really wrapped the newborn baby in a plastic bag and a pillowcase and placed it in the freaking clothes dryer.  Do you mean to tell me THIS woman is a better parent than I am?  Casey Anthony, who was partying at the club while her little girl was missing, is a better parent than I am?

Get the 'bleep' out of here with that nonsense.  If people with infertility issues or other reproductive issues were unwilling or unable to care for their children, would we be so distraught when we lose them?  Casey Anthony was apparently glad to be freed of her parental duties and ran right out to party hearty.  Would we do anything we could, such as clinical trials, alternative therapies, and wading through volumes of medical studies, if we didn't want to have families of our own?

One who hasn't been through these situations would even begin to understand, but how could James P. even begin to think his statement was true?  He must not live in the same world I do, where bad things do indeed happen to good people.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Lost in the Middle

The past several weeks, I've either read or thumbed through several books on pregnancy loss.  Some were of the lay person medical variety, discussing the causes and noncauses of pregnancy loss, and how to cope.  These books typically deal with first trimester losses, or "typical" third trimester losses. By "typical" I mean what people usually think of as stillbirth, where the baby dies in-utero unexpectedly, at or post term.  Second trimester losses, like ours usually get short shrift though they are officially designated as stillbirth if its 20 weeks or more gestation.  Cervical insufficiency, in general, also doesn't get a lot of attention.  Chromosomal defects of the first trimester, and cord accidents of the third trimester tend to steal the show.

I've heard that a lot of women take offense to the words "miscarriage" and "stillbirth".  I'm sure they'd be more upset at "spontaneous abortion" and "fetal demise".  I've always been careful to use the first set of terms with those who aren't in the medical or semi-medical fields, but otherwise, I really don't have an opinion.  I do feel that neither of these words fit us very well, and I feel lost in the middle.  I was comforted, early on, when I picked up an article that was buried in a pile of school work that defined stillbirth as a non-living infant born at 20 weeks or more.  A technicality, sure, but a being identifiable as a baby, that I could hold in my hands, did not fit into my mental definition of miscarriage.  At the same time, Morgan didn't die at some point between office visits, either.  She was fighting hard until the very end, and died sometime during the labor and delivery process.  But, she was born, and she was still.

I guess I just feel like I've been forced to join this exclusive club, and I don't fit.  I don't fit in a world of women who have happy, healthy babies. I don't fit in a world of women with  no babies. And, I don't fit in a world of women with dead babies, either.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

I Am a Tomato

I am a tomato.  Not literally, but figuratively.  This spring, shortly before I found out I was pregnant with Morgan, I started a container garden on our patio.  I planted lettuce, peppers, green beans, and tomatoes.  By the summer, both the lettuce and green beans had petered out.  The peppers were producing like crazy.  The tomatoes grew into these lush green plants, and finally produced some tomatoes.  The tomatoes were spaced too closely, and grew miniature tomatoes, even though they were full sized tomato species.  The first several were ruined by tomato blossom end rot, but we did get enough to toss in a salad.  My husband even put some in a pasta dish.

It was a hot summer, and it was a chore to keep the tomatoes with enough water.  When we came home from the hospital after losing Morgan, the pepper plants were droopy, but OK.  The tomato plants were completely brown, dry, and crunchy.  Even so, there were a few tomatoes that managed to ripen over the next few days.  We assumed the tomato plants were past the point of no return, and paid them no more attention.

Today, I looked out the window and saw this:

Nearly six weeks without water, and there were two grape sized tomatoes.  Plump and bright red, they were a striking contrast to the brown stems.  I am those tomatoes.  Like them, the past six weeks have been the hardest of my life.  We gave up on those plants when our baby died.  At the time, I wanted to die, too.  But like the tomatoes, gathering strength, energy, and sustenance from who knows where, I'm still here.  I'm still alive, and fighting, every day.

It's September now, and even the most well tended tomatoes would be winding down now.  I will keep going, but this picture of the tomato will be a reminder of the inner strength that I possess.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

What Was, Is, and Should Have Been

Just over a year ago was when we decided the time was finally right to try and have a baby.  We had a mini vacation scheduled for August, and that would be the kickoff to baby making.

What was... I'm a couponer, and almost always get the Sunday paper.  About this time last year, the Target weekly add featured their big annual baby sale.  I "casually" mentioned to my husband, though I was in no way pregnant yet, how good the prices were on cribs, and that, if I were pregnant, I'd snap one up.  Without hesitation, he said I should go ahead and get it.  Logic prevailed, and I did not purchase a crib for a baby not on the way.

But, I tucked the little nugget of knowledge that Target had an annual baby sale away in the memory bank.

What was... Flash forward to this summer, and I was, indeed, expecting.  IT was still too early to buy baby stuff, but I was eagerly awaiting the Target baby sale.  If I remembered correctly, the ad would come in August.

What is... The Target baby ad came out today.  Just one week away from what would have been the start of the third trimester.  The home stretch.  But again, I'm not pregnant.  Unlike last year, I was looking toward the future with optimism.  This year, I look back with sadness, at what should have been.

I should have spent this rainy Sunday afternoon curled up with that sales flyer, oohing and awing over espresso finish cribs and pink plaid or polka dot trimmed car seats.  I should have been reviewing safety ratings on baby gear.

Instead, I've spent a portion of this day crying tears of pain for my little girl who should still be in my belly.  Today's tears were of the big fat droplet variety, the kind accompanied by wails of "Why?"  The hardest thing to accept these past few days is that just a few short weeks could have made all the difference in the world.  If I could have carried my sweet girl just a few more weeks, maybe she could have lived.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Pissed off

All cried out?  Not so much.

In addition to still being hot under the collar about this past week's visit to the doctor, I'm angry at baby magazines.

A second baby mag subscription arrived yesterday (as well as a Babies R Us baby registry ad).  I brought it inside in order to use the label info to unsubscribe.  It took 20 minutes of searching their website to find a link to email customer service.  The parent company offers several magazines, and every time I'd log in, it would either not recognize my information or randomly send me to the subsites of the other magazines, trying to get me to subscribe.  If I start out at American Baby, don't redirect me to Better Homes and Gardens!!!  Don't send me in circles asking me to subscribe.  Why is there no button to unsubscribe?

Why on earth would you ever want to unsubscribe from a baby magazine?  Because babies sometimes die.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

All Cried Out?

It's been one month and two days since Morgan became an angel.  Yesterday was the first day that I didn't cry.  I had a teary moment or two today, but haven't cried today, either.  I don't know how I feel about that.

On the one hand, it seems that thing I've wanted most, if I couldn't have Morgan, was to feel normal again.  The world around me has kept going.  And it will. With or without me.  I can create a new normal and rejoin the world, or I can wallow in my grief and misery.  Either way, my baby's not coming back.

On the other hand, I didn't expect it to be so sudden.  It's truly like I just woke up yesterday and was fine.  I know the grieving isn't over, but still.

I guess, looking back at life, in general, that I shouldn't be surprised.  After graduating from college, a friend and and I each had a separate series of setbacks that prevented us from jumping into the dreamed of post-graduation adult life.  She took each blow very hard, while I took each one in stride and kept it moving.  She asked how did I become so resilient.  I really didn't have an answer then, and I don't have one now.  I guess I've always looked at life with two options.  I could sink, or I could swim.

Yet, I still thought surely this, this terrible, terrible experience, would be different.  In the first few days, I couldn't eat, could barely sleep.  I started grinding my teeth.  And it seems those around me still expect me to be in that stage.  Though I was dreading it, I went to school on Monday, and some people commented on how brave I was to have come to school.  To be perfectly honest, the first few days at home, I really didn't see an end to the continuous waves of pain.  But each week, I could see improvement.

I do know this.  As I said before, I want to return to normal, or new normal, or whatever it is.  No offense to anyone, but I don't want to be lingering in the grief message boards two or three years from now because I can only function in a world with people who've experienced this pain.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Be Your Own Healthcare Advocate

This post is not about my emotions or the grieving process, but is still related to our loss.  I'm writing today to relay my experience at the doctor's, and hope that this conveys the importance of being an informed healthcare consumer.

Yesterday was my postpartum follow-up visit.  I didn't know what to expect as far as medical exams and whatnot, but I had a long list of questions related to future pregnancies that I wanted answered.

When the doctor came in, he shook our hands (hubby went with me), and asked if he'd seen us in the hospital.  DID YOU READ THE CHART BEFORE YOU CAME IN HERE?  He then asked me to relay the medical events leading to Morgan's passing (AGAIN, DID YOU READ THE CHART?), and did I understand why things went the way they did.  Somewhere along my retelling of the story, his memory was jogged and he asked, "Oh, are you the one who delivered everything in the sac?"  (My water never broke, so the baby was delivered in an intact amniotic sac.)  After that part of the conversation was done, he said he saw no need for a pelvic exam (I didn't either, honestly), and asked us to come to his office rather than be in the exam room.  He wanted to discuss the plan for future pregnancies.  Perfect, because I did, too.  However, at no point in the above exchange did he ask how I was doing, either physically or emotionally/mentally (RED FLAG, RUN!).

In his office, he explained, as if we weren't already aware, what cervical insufficiency is.  Then we began to discuss the plan of action for future pregnancies.  From my reading before this visit, and what we were told before leaving the hospital, I thought I knew what he would say.  I was wrong.  This doctor wanted to go the route of expectant management, which is a watch and wait approach, with more frequent monitoring until cervical changes are observed, then more aggressive action.  From what I've read in various blogs, as well as the scientific literature, I was expecting him to discuss placing a preventive cerclage at the end of the first trimester, frequent cervical length checks, and some period of bed rest. NOPE.  He didn't feel the evidence was there to indicate that preventive cerclages are necessary.  Apparently, of every 100 women who get them, 96 don't really need them. Thus, he would not place the stitch until after 2 losses.  I have not come across this statistic.  I have come across multiple studies showing that around 90% of women with  a preventive cerclage (not an emergent cerclage) carry to term.  Whether or not preventive cerclage is beneficial may remain to be seen, but it seems to be a viable option.  Why on earth would I set myself up to go through this hell again by flying without a net?  And why would I stay with a doctor who isn't willing to do everything in his power to get us a success story until the third time around?  To his credit, he did send an email on my behalf to the other docs in the group to see if anyone else would place a stitch after a single loss.  Only ONE doctor out of about eight would agree to it.  That whole practice just got fired.  Period. End of discussion.

LESSON 1: Be an informed consumer of healthcare.  Research every viable option, and if your doctor is not willing to consider them, move on.  I know this is hard to do when your insurance plan restricts you to certain doctors within a network, but do the best you can.

While at the office, I raised my dissatisfaction with the way larger group practices, and teaching hospitals work.  I felt that there were too many chefs in the soup here.  Every time a doctor walked into the room, it was a new doctor, asking the same questions as the last doctor.  DID YOU READ THE CHART BEFORE YOU CAME IN HERE?  He had some suggestions, but also made several excuses.

Lastly, don't let your doctor treat you like a moron.  You may not have a slew of initials behind your name, but you CAN understand what your doctor is saying to you.  I've mentioned that I'm working on a PhD in epidemiology, and this means that I spend a lot of time reading medical literature.  Probably more time than the average practicing physician.  Yet, I don't try to throw my weight around.  But yesterday, when I was discussing some of my concerns, I prefaced myself with saying, "I'm getting this degree, and my research area is preterm birth...yada yada yada..."  My husband, who is neither an MD nor an epidemiologist, commented later that as soon as I threw that out there, he started talking to me in a completely different manner.  Before I put my credentials on the table, this man asked me every way but down how many pregnancies I had had.  Apparently, either I don't know how to count to one, I forgot about those past miscarriages and abortions, or he couldn't believe that a thirty-two year old black women would wait until she was ready to have a child.  Afterwards, we spoke as peers.  I shouldn't have to put on my big girl panties to be treated like one!

LESSON 2:  Take a trusted relative or friend to an appointment with you.  If between the two of you, you don't understand what's going on, ask the doctor to explain it again in everyday language.  I recently saw a quote attributed to Albert Einstein: If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.  These doctors didn't always speak of "occlusions of the upper great vessels leading to myocardial infarction".  Once upon a time, they said, just like a regular person, "the veins were blocked and he had a heart attack."

LESSON2a: Fake it til you make it/Don't be intimidated.  I think that people assume that doctors, because they have many more years of education than the average person, are somehow smarter, or better, and let that intimidate them.  Don't!  If you're not happy, speak up.  If you want more (or less) treatment, say so.  This is your health we're talking about.  You only get one chance to do it right.

That being said...

LESSON 3: Don't be their cash cow!  If you're not happy with the quality of care you receive, don't keep paying for more crappy service.  THEY work for YOU!  For the 7 days of our journey to keep Morgan, which included 4 days at home, not the hospital, the insurance company was billed nearly $30,000!  I don't know about you, but imagine if you were paying out of pocket.  Would you be willing to pay that much for slipshod service?  I know people who won't go back to a restaurant for a $7 burger if the service is bad.  The same applies to healthcare.  In addition, as I mentioned above, I wasn't asked how I was doing presently.  This doctor was ready to jump straight into getting us back on the baby train.

I know this seems like it's easy for me to give this advice, as someone who is more familiar with medical speak.  I haven't always had this knowledge, so I do know what it's like to be overwhelmed with what's going on around you when you or a loved one is sick.  But I refuse to learn the hard way what will happen if I stay at a practice where my voice is not heard.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Little Things

It's been nearly a month, and slowly but surely, I'm putting the shattered pieces of my life back together.  I think about my baby girl every single day.  I think about her all day, especially first thing in the morning, late at night, or the quiet times.  I'm even making a scrapbook of her, but I'm not overcome by tears every time I think of her or see her pictures.  There hasn't been a day that I haven't cried, but the heaving, wailing sobs are fewer.

Now, the things that hit me the hardest are the little, random things that I have no control over.  Babies certainly make me a little sad, but it's not every baby.  White babies or boy babies don't make me sad.  Not necessarily even little brown girl babies.  It's definitely situational.  For example, I was at the grocery store deli counter, and a man (white) pulled up with his baby girl in the cart.  The clerk was oohing and awing over the baby, and it came up that she was small for her age of 9 months.  So far, no big deal.  The dad said she had been born about 3.5 weeks early, on Thanksgiving.  THAT was what hit me.  I would have been 37 weeks the week of Thanksgiving.  So, give or take a few days, this baby was the age that Morgan should have been this time next year.

Other things that get me still are the "firsts".  By firsts, I mean things that are the first time since I was pregnant.  My husband and I were laying in bed ( he was getting ready to take a nap), and I was laying next to him, just relaxing and enjoying having his arms around me.  Enjoying the moment, I realized that while we used to regularly snuggle up, just because, this was the first time we'd held each other without extreme grief since we lost the baby.  Then I remembered how, when I was pregnant, I would joke that I couldn't get as close as I wanted because my baby belly was in the way.  This time, there was no belly, and I missed it being there.  Another first was having blue cheese on a salad for dinner.  Every pregnant woman knows that blue cheese is on the list of soft, moldy cheeses that are so tasty but may potentially harm the baby.  All I could think about while pregnant was getting my hands on a bacon blue cheese burger from a local burger spot.  It hit me like a wall while plating my salad that I can now have all the blue cheese I want, but not my sweet Morgan, which I want most.

I imagine these little things will be fewer and farther between, especially as I conquer the firsts.    But when they hit, it's hard to breathe, hard not to cry, or even run out of the grocery store.  It's so, so hard.  I imagined so many scenarios with my baby, but never, not once, did I imagine scenarios without her.  Now that every scenario will be without her, it's hard to keep going.  But, I will do my best not to let the pain hold me back.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Is There Anything I Can Do?

Since Morgan died, most people ask if there is anything they can do.  The short answer is no, unless you know how to turn water into wine and raise the dead, then there is nothing you can do for me.  The nice answer is to just love and cherish the those around you, especially your children.

Last week, I attended two different perinatal loss support groups, and in each group, women talked about the reactions of friends and family to the loss.  It seems that everyone recognizes that there is truly nothing they can do to comfort you.  However, some folks don't know what to say or do, and so say or do nothing.  I myself have been guilty of this in the past, especially for more distant acquaintances. 

I now know how important it is to acknowledge the loss, especially a pregnancy/infant loss.  As her mother, know one knew Morgan like I did; not even my husband.  She was with me every moment of every day.  Both of us need her to be acknowledged.  She didn't get to live in the world she was born into, but she affected the world she was born into just the same.  For the women in the support groups, failure to acknowledge the losses resulted in alienation of previously close friends and family members.

I write this this particular post because it struck me today how people really are dumbfounded on what to do when you lose a baby.  I went out today, and when I returned there was a tall stack of frozen meals that had been delivered while I was out.  There was no card or message, but after a little investigation, I found out that the delivery was from my classmates.  In the reply to my investigative email, it hit me how truly difficult it is for people to express their condolences in this situation.

You see, while we were dealing with our own loss, another classmate lost a parent.  As relayed in the email, it seems that there was no hesitation in deciding to send something to this person, but there was a lot of deliberation on sending something to us, along the lines of "nothing we do will make it better".  Again, unless you're BFFs with Lazarus, nothing will make it better.  But that is no more true for us, than it is for my classmate.  Unless I am just truly disliked by my colleagues (I hope not!), I want to say this is because of the difficulty of the situation. It's a lot easier to say "I'm sorry about your Mom" than "I'm sorry about your baby".

A hug and an "I'm sorry" go a long way.  I've even surprised myself at how touched I've been at condolences that have mentioned Morgan by name.  I guess the point of this is acknowledgement.  It goes a long way.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Halfway Normal

Today, I felt halfway normal.

I say halfway because I don't know what "normal" is going to be.  In recent months, my life has shifted seismically twice.  The first shift occurred when I found out I was pregnant.  I remember telling my husband that life as we knew it had changed.  And it did.  He did the grocery shopping and cooking, I slept.  We were indescribably happy.  This first shift was so great that I don't really remember what life was like before I got pregnant.  I remember what the day to day motions of life were, those probably didn't change much.  But, I don't remember what I was like before, or what Chris was like before.  Those people are gone.  The second shift occurred when our baby died.  The other day, I looked up at our wedding photo that hangs over the fireplace.  Those people had no idea that five years later, they'd be so copletely and utterly heartbroken.  If they did, their smiles wouldn't have been so big.  They wouldn't have read the hand ceremony at their wedding because loving and raising children figures prominently in that reading.

Anyway, I digress...

Today, I went to school and sat in on an expert panel on stillbirth.  And despite the topic, I managed to feel normal.  Despite being a reproductive epidemiologist, this was not my project, and I was not there to lend my academic expertise.  Unfortunately, I was labeled as an advocate today.  I was one of several first hand experience experts.  Yet, I still managed to feel normal.  Though I specifically asked if I could attend this event, I thought it would be a hard day, and purposefully chose a seat near the door. I was pleasantly surprised that today was like any other day at school/work.  I think I may have been more vocal than usual with suggestions, but it was a regular day.  I thought about our experiences in Morgan's delivery and death, but I didn't instantly tear or blubber or anything like that.  In fact, I did none of that.

I've wanted so badly over the last three weeks to be normal.  To not be "that" woman with the dead baby.  Though my new normal is shadowed by grief, I now know that I will, piece by piece, be able to construct a new normal.  Today was the first step in doing so.

Don't get me wrong, I know that the grieving is far from over.  Yesterday (and yesterday's post on the "what ifs") is proof of that.  But, I know that the crappy days will eventually be outnumbered by good days on the score board.  So, chalk one up on for the good days

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The What Ifs

Why do I torture myself with the "What Ifs"?

*What if we had gone for the ultrasound sooner?
*What if I'd gotten antibiotics after the cerclage?
*What if Morgan had lived, or at least been born alive?
*What if we'd made it just another few weeks?

I've chosen a career path that focuses primarily on causation.  What most people don't know is that a "cause" not only causes the event outcome to be different, but a "cause" can also result in the same outcome, but at a different time.

I was not naive at the start of my stint on bed rest.  As I've said before, I knew too much; so much that it was actually really hard to be optimistic.  I knew there was no way that I would make it too term if I was on bed rest at 20 weeks.  I knew that the amniotic sac had been exposed to vaginal flora, and that the risk of infection was high.  I knew that at 20 weeks, Morgan's chances were essentially zero.

I posted on Facebook that I needed a counterfactual time machine.  If I could go back in time, and do just one thing over that would result in my baby girl being here with me, I would do it. In a heartbeat. No hesitation.  Not that it can actually happen, but which "what if" would I choose?

I also can't help but compare our story to the stories of others I've read on the message boards.  By the nature of their even being on the message boards, their babies have also died.  But, some of those babies lived, even if for just a little while.  Why not my Morgan?  OF course I know this is ridiculous, I still would be here with empty arms.  But, I find myself wishing that if for a few minutes, she would have been able to see, with her own eyes, and hear, with her precious little ears, how much her Mommy and Daddy loved her.  Of course, I wouldn't have wanted her to suffer, but what if?

As I type these words, on the eve of "viability", it seems so cruel and unfair that three short weeks would have made the difference between the doctors attempting to save my baby's life and simply letting nature take its course by doing nothing.  But again, if we'd made it to week 24, and she'd been born alive, would I have wanted her to suffer a multitude of medical tests, tubes, and machines?  What would  her long term quality of life have been if she'd survived?  Again, I wouldn't have wanted her to suffer, and I damn sure couldn't have survived watching her die in my arms, but what if?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Dear Morgan

Dear Morgan,

I think about you every minute of every hour of every day.  But I've been thinking, for the past day or so, about your personality.  Because we lost you at 20 weeks, I'd only been able to feel your movements for about 3 weeks.  I was only able to feel you kick from the outside just once.  I don't think your daddy ever got to feel you move.

Anyway, I think you were going to be mellow like both of your parents, but spunky, too.  When you were comfortable, you were nice and calm.  But when there was something you didn't like, you let me know.  I remember one day, around week 19, I had two meetings at school.  You didn't like the way I was sitting, and you let me know with your little fists!

I also think you were going to be the type who wanted to be not be bothered by other people, just like your dad.  Every time we had a doctor's appointment, and it was time for the doppler or ultrasound, you'd move.  I remember the second time we saw you onscreen, at the 10 week visit.  You were still a tiny thing.  It was so amazing to see you!  Your arms and legs were just little nubbies, but you were waving them like crazy.  Our take home ultrasound pic was a blurry mess because you wouldn't hold still, even for a second!  All that movement, and I couldn't feel it at all.  It did give me a clue on why I was so tired all the time.  You were using all the energy trying to run around!

You also didn't like me to wear seat belts.  No matter where I tried to put it, you fought against it.  I later realized that because you were in a footling breach position, the seatbelt was probably sitting on your head, and you didn't like it.  Sorry, sweetie.

I also think you would have been a little trickster.  One of my favorite early pregnancy pastimes was to poke my tummy and find my uterus.  Early on, when my uterus was just a small ball, I would find it and rub it and talk to you.  But, I couldn't always find it.  One day, I remember poking you when my uterus was more on the right side.  Then, I tried to have your daddy feel it when he came into the room.  But, I couldn't feel/find it.  Somehow, as small as you were, you'd managed to move to the left side so that I'd leave you alone!  I knew then that you were going to be smart and funny.  Maybe a practical joker?  

I wish we could have the opportunity to know which of my predictions were right.  You could be sweet and shy, or a rambunctious tomboy.  It wouldn't have mattered, I'd have hugged you and kissed you to bits, either way.

I love you, Morgan. Now, forever, and always.

Where is My Refuge?

Everyone has that thing they do or that place they go when they need to relax or escape for a few moments.  I like to bake, craft, and sew.  So, my getaway place was usually either the fabric or craft store.  I especially love the bigger stores that have both fabric and crafts.  They're the kind of places I can easily lose two hours without even trying.

But where will my getaway be after Morgan?

It's hard to explain how a person who wasn't even here yet had become such a part of my life.  Every plan for the present and the future involved Morgan.  This includes the many, many craft and sewing projects I had planned to make after we found out the sex.

For about a year before we officially started trying for a baby, I'd begun collecting project ideas and tutorials for baby projects.  Blankets, clothes, burp cloths, name it, I saved it.  I hit the jackpot when Pinterest came along!  So, obviously, once we knew I was pregnant, I was more than ready to put those plans into action.  I just needed to know if it should be pink or blue.   I've been to the craft/fabric stores twice since Morgan went to heaven.  The second time was easier than the first, but every aisle contained an item I would have purchased for my girl's projects.  Not to mention, pregnant women tend to gravitate toward craft stores, too.

Another favorite hideout was Target.  Who doesn't love to wander around Target?  You go in to get a birthday card and some laundry detergent, but come out with at least two bags of stuff you didn't know you needed.  But, I realize, without stepping one foot in there since Morgan, that I can't go there.  Not now.  Target is set up in such a way that the baby section can be seen from every main aisle.  You can't avoid it.

I guess I have to find a new hideout.  Because now, of all times, I really need a place where I can get away.  Where I won't run into anyone I know.  Where nobody's going to bother me.  Where, for just an hour, I can manage to not think about Morgan, about the plans I had for her, how cute she'd look in whatever little outfit, and manage to not be sad or cry.

I've had the urge several times over the past two weeks, just to get out of the house.  But where to go?  I've thought about just seeing where I end up, but gas costs too much to drive with no destination.  Besides, I haven't done that since gas was $1.25!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Case of the Mondays

Today has been a really, really hard day.

To start, I woke up around 6am in a terrible mood.  All I could think of was how much I wanted to hold my sweet girl.  I cried silently in bed until I couldn't take it anymore.  So, I got up and just held the blanket that Morgan was wrapped in while at the hospital.  I held it and cried.  I cried, and cried, and cried some more.   And stroked the little yellow knit cap she wore.  I was able to eventually get a little more sleep, but I was still in a bad mood.

Then, the nurse from the hospital called to let us know that Morgan's pictures were ready.  Finally!  I've been longing to get these pictures since we left the hospital.  I've just wanted to see her little face more than anything.  I drove over to the hospital to pick them up.  As soon as I got out of the car, I just felt awash in these terrible feelings and emotions, just being there.  My reason for being there, to pick up photos of my dead baby, magnified the emotion.  Even worse, the pictures were at the labor and delivery reception desk.

I wanted to cry as the receptionist handed me the pictures and said to "Have a nice day".  She obviously had no idea what kind of pictures were in that envelope.  Not the kind that allow you to have a nice day.  Once away from the reception desk, I sank into a chair, right in front of the elevator.  I opened the envelope but couldn't look at the pictures.

Back at the car, I set out to run some other errands I had planned.  As I walked across the quad at school, and wandered around the public library, I just felt broken.  And, I felt as if anyone who saw me could see my pain.  I felt as if my legs wouldn't move, and my eyes couldn't distinguish between the books on the shelves.  I felt extremely sad, broken, slumped over.

Once I returned home, my husband was in the bathroom, so I opened the pictures by myself.  He came in after I'd looked at the first few images.  I looked through the short stack of photos, then passed them to him.  We both, obviously, cried some more, then retreated to opposite sides of the apartment.

After fiddling around being miserable, I figured I'd put away my maternity clothes.  I was tired of looking at them.  Some of them had never been put away after I purchased them.  A small stack of maternity sweaters had been sitting in the corner because I didn't know whether I should hang them or fold them until I needed them.  Oh well, they're folded now... Half of the clothes still had the price tags on them, and of the things that I had worn, other than a pair of jeans and a pair of shorts, had only been worn once or twice.  I'd only had enough of a bump to fill out the shirts in the last 2-3 weeks of the pregnancy.  In addition to putting away my own clothes, I also had to put away the few things we had for Morgan.  That was the hardest part of all.

We're planning to go together to an infant/perinatal loss support group tonight.  So, I'm sure more tears will flow before the night is over.

And lastly, it's just after 5:00pm as I write this.  It was this time, just three of the longest weeks I've ever experienced ago, that I was wheeled into surgery for the cerclage that didn't work.  It's amazing that it's only been three weeks since our world began to crumble.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Emotions: Anger

Anger.  This is the emotion I come back to the most.  The grief and sadness are, and will likely,  always be there, but the anger I feel is fierce, raw, painfully strong.  I could go on and on about the individual things I'm angry about, but itemizing each thing is like adding little twigs to the fire.  But, then again, this blog is my free therapy, and getting out what's bothering me may help.

I'm angry at the hospital system that would not allow for the anatomy scan to be scheduled a day before 20 weeks.  If we'd been able to get an appointment a week earlier, maybe my dilated cervix would have been found earlier.

I'm angry at the doctor who did not prescribe any antibiotics after the cerclage.  Knowing that infection was highly likely after the sac was exposed to vaginal flora, wouldn't you try to prevent possible infection for as long as possible?

I'm angry at the extremely impersonal and poor bedside manner of the doctors we saw.  At the ultrasound, the doctor pulled in to consult on my cervix, after implying that our healthy baby was going to die, jumped right on to our next pregnancy and what we could do to prevent this from happening again.  Less than 48 hours after our baby did die, the on-call attending OB was talking about methods of birth control and when to try again.  Morgan was born just 3 weeks before viability, and I accept that her chance of survival at 20 weeks was basically zero.  But that doesn't make her any less real, or any less of a person, or any less loved.  If it had been my husband that had died, no one would have been talking to me about dating again if he were on life support or 48 hours after he was gone.

Above all, I think I'm most angry at God.  It seems like two of every three people has said something along the lines of "Trust God", or "Lean on Him".  While I was on bed rest, I prayed and prayed, believing that WE were selected to be MORGAN'S parents for a REASON, and that He wouldn't take her from us until that reason was fulfilled.  Yet, now we have no little girl to kiss and cuddle.   We also have no reason to explain why this happened.  How can I trust that things will ever be alright, when this went so terribly wrong?

I'm also angry at those "parents" who don't recognize or appreciate the blessings they've been given.  Every day, there's a news story about someone abusing, starving, or neglecting their children.  Women smoke, drink, and do drugs while pregnant, and somehow manage to have beautiful little babies.  Every time it was time to buy new prenatal vitamins, I agonized over which ones to buy.  I avoided blue cheese, hotdogs, and jumbo cups of sweet tea like the plague.  And still, my baby died.

I'm also angry that there are so many mothers, fathers, and families experiencing this pain.  As an epidemiologist, even one who studies reproductive outcomes, it's easy to say "that's rare".  I think it's even easier for physicians to say that, if for no other reason than to keep patients calm.  But as a mother with empty arms, I'm finding that there are way too many perfect pregnancies that go awry in just an instant.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Emotions: Betrayal

My emotions have run the gamut the past few days, but one that keeps coming back to me is that of feeling betrayed.

I've been so angry that my body was seemingly ready to spit out my unborn child without so much as a twinge of pain.  If we'd not had the ultrasound when we did, what would have happened?  Would the baby have just fallen out in the street?

The postpartum recovery process has added to my feelings of betrayal.  The bleeding has not been nearly as bad as I expected, and I've had little to no pain.  In the hospital, the nurses kept checking my belly to make sure my uterus was going down properly.  They seemed surprised that I was doing so well.  In less than a week, I am back into my prepregnancy pants, and weigh less than I have in probably two years.  This rapid physical recovery has just really made me feel as if my body was trying to erase every sign that it had ever housed a growing baby.

But despite that, the kicker is this: breast milk.  While I'm feeling like my body betrayed me in the worst way, my milk came in the day after getting out of the hospital.  Here I am, hating what my body is doing.  NOW my body wants to love and nourish my baby.  Did my body miss the "I'm pregnant" memo?  Or did it just forget?  It certainly got the "We had a baby" memo.

My breasts have been engorged for four days now.  It's getting better, as I haven't expressed the milk at all.  But, I'm just stung by the irony that it's taking longer for the milk to go away than it did to get my body back.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Dear Morgan

Dear Morgan,

My sweet, sweet girl.  I want you to know that your Daddy and I love you very much.  We have loved you since the plus sign on the pregnancy test turned blue.

When you were born, we got to hold you and dress you in the tiniest little blanket and hat.  I was glad that they had something your size.  We also got to keep the blanket and hat as keepsakes.  I will treasure them forever.

Despite your tiny size, just 12.2 ounces, you were perfect in every way.  With your hands tucked neatly below your chin, you looked like you were sleeping.  I was surprised to see that you looked so much like me.  My nose and lips, hands and feet.  You had your Daddy's grumpy forehead, and his cheeks.  I wonder if you would have had a dimple.  Either way, you were just beautiful.  I would give anything just to see you one more time.  Over the past few days, I have even wished that I could die, if it meant I could be with you.

Before you were born, I thought is was going to be awkward holding a 7 pound newborn.  Though you were just a fraction of this size, holding you in my arms was the most natural thing in the world.  Daddy and I took turns holding you and rocking you, and telling you how much we loved you.  We were able to sit with you for several hours, but then it was time to say goodbye.

My Angel, I am so, so sorry.  The day after I found I was pregnant with you, I told your Dad before I left that morning, that my only job was to keep you safe.  I feel as if I failed and let you down in the worst way.  How could I not know what was going on with my body prior to that terrible ultrasound appointment?  I failed, as your mother, to keep you safe.  I'm so sorry.  I couldn't fix it because I didn't know.  I just didn't know.

I hate that I won't see you grow up and won't be able to do any of the things I imagined us doing.  But, I know we'll be together again someday.  It may be a long time from now, but we know we'll recognize you instantly when we're reunited.  You will forever have a place in our hearts, and the world will know of you.  Your future brothers or sisters will know that they have a big sister watching out for them from heaven.

I love you, Morgan, and I always will.  Rest in peace, sweet girl.


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The End

Bed rest is over.  Because my pregnancy is over.  At 2:25am, on Saturday, July 28, 2012, our little girl was born with her angel wings.

The cramping that I'd had off and on all week intensified on Friday with a nasty discharge.  I had chorioamnionitis, an infection in the space between the two membranes composing the amniotic sac.  We went to the hospital, really expecting to be sent home again.  Stupid me thought I was just having cramps.  They were actually contractions, and I was in labor.

At this point, the cerclage stitches needed to come out, or my cervix would rupture.  Removal of the stitches was supposed to be an easy, quick procedure, not requiring any anesthesia...just a speculum and a snip of the stitches.  But, this caused me so much pain.  The doctor couldn't get the stitches out.  The surgeon performing the initial cerclage put in more than one stitch, and must have tied them really, really well.  All together, I believe there were three stitches, and the third, partially removed stitch was only found after delivery.

The physical pain was excruciating.  They told me the pain was amplified because of the infection.  I had a fever over 101, but didn't feel it.  All I felt was the frequent cramping just below my belly button.  Even when I found myself timing the frequency and duration of the cramps (every 5-10 minutes, for 15-20 seconds) to help me get through them, I still thought they were cramps, not contractions.  No medication could ease the pain.  They started me on one drug that I don't remember the name of.  I then got 2 doses of morphine, and it didn't even take the edge off.  I wasn't allowed an epidural because of the infection. I finally got a pudendal block and a pain pump clicker, but by then, it was too late.

Immediately after the stitches were removed, I dilated to 4cm.  After two hours, I had not progressed at all, so was given a drug to induce labor.  Now that was the drug that worked immediately.  Induction drugs are known for the intensity of their effects.  The contractions got much, much stronger, and it still seemed that the pain meds weren't doing anything at all.  I gave up on the pain pump clicker.

After what I guess was an hour or two, I felt the baby coming out.  With my husband holding my hands, and the nurses holding my legs, I began pushing.  Whether because of the pudendal block or her tiny size, I really only felt the final exit.  My water never broke, and she was born in the sac.

The physical pain ended immediately, but the emotional pain was immediate, and I know will continue for a very, very long time.  Any pain our baby girl felt was also over, and for that, I was grateful.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Day 4

July 27, 2012: 20 weeks + 4 days

Last night was a rough one, physically. Back ache and some cramping.

This morning, I felt better.  I thought that I'd listen to the lullaby station on Pandora and have some quality time with the baby.  The second song to play was "You Are My Sunshine".  I call my husband Sunshine, and smiled when it came  on, but the second verse (below) had me in tears.  This verse pretty much sums up my days right now.  I'm trying so hard to be strong and optimistic.  But whenever I try to picture the future with my little girl - baking cookies, tea parties, etc., I can't help but think we may never get the chance to experience those things.

You are my sunshine 
My only sunshine 
You make me happy 
When the skies are grey 
You'll never know dear 
How much I love you 
So please don't take 
My sunshine 

The other night dear 
As I lay sleeping 
I dreamed I held you in my arms 
When I awoke dear 
I was mistaken 
And I held 
My head 
And cried 

I've shed so many tears this week, I could fill a swimming pool.