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.