Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I feel like I have jumped through a few hurdles lately. Most people wouldn’t even consider them a hurdle, but I do.

East Side Mario’s

The first was eating at East Side Mario’s again. East Side’s is one of my favorite restaurants, so Ted took me there on my birthday on May 11th, when I was 17.5 weeks pregnant. On the drive there, I felt some lower back pain, much like the lower back pain I get during AF. I was a little worried in the car since I hadn’t had that kind of pain at all in the pregnancy. We were seated and we ordered and then I went to the bathroom. I was horrified to see some blood. It wasn’t bright red and it wasn’t very much, but I was so scared. I went to wash my hands and I felt more come out. This time it was bright red, but it still wasn’t very much. My heart was pounding and I felt like throwing up, but I went back to our table and tried to act normal. I didn’t say anything to Ted because I didn’t want to ruin the evening for him. But I sat there in fear. Now I know I should have just told him. Our food arrived and I didn’t really enjoy the meal, obviously, and I couldn’t wait to leave. As we walked to the car, I told him that I had some bleeding. He wasn’t very worried because his ex-wife had some bleeding with their daughter and everything was fine. I didn’t have anymore bleeding like that for the rest of the night. We had talked about going to a hospital, but for some reason we decided not too since I was having no cramping and the back pain had stopped.

The next day, I did have more bleeding (no bright red blood) and I went to the hospital that night. They put us in a private room in the ER to wait (I just figured that was the only room they had at the time, now I think they put us there in case our baby was dead) and we waited. My pulse was really fast and they were worried about that. When I said that I was just anxious, the nurses all said they understood and looked sympathetic. A doctor came in and did an ultrasound. As soon as he started checking his watch and watching the screen, I felt relief wash over me. The baby still had a heartbeat. I asked where the placenta was, but he said he couldn’t tell. He couldn’t see anything wrong and sent us home. He said to come back for a full ultrasound the next day. He also said that if something was going wrong, there wasn’t a lot they could do about it because I was only 17 weeks. I had a full ultrasound the next day, which is when we found out I was having a boy and that there was a problem with his foot. Anyway, I’ll get into all the details of those scary moments another time. I really just intended to write about why East Side Mario’s is a scary place for me now.

It was my sister’s birthday on Sept 25th, so my 3 sister’s, my Mom and nephew and I all went to East Side’s last night (a different location from the one where the bleeding happened). I have been wanting to go there just to break the spell of the bad memory, but Ted and I hadn’t gone yet. Jessie wanted to go there and I was glad that it would happen, and that it wouldn’t be just Ted and I going together, which would have been too much like May 11th. I was nervous coming home from work, all this anxiety just about going to a restaurant. It wasn’t too bad there. We were sitting near, but not at, a booth and I kept staring at the booth having flashbacks to May 11th and the fear (we were sitting in a booth that day). I tried to pay attention to the conversation around me, and I was successful for the most part, but I kept looking back at the booth and having flashbacks. I didn’t explain any of this to anyone who was at the dinner. They are used to me staring vacantly ahead into space now anyway.

The Book

I started reading the book “Any Known Blood” by Lawrence Hill a few days before I found out that Jacob had died and I was reading it in the waiting room as I waited for my appointment the morning my OB couldn’t find his heartbeat. The main character referred to the baby boy that had died in his wife’s womb near the beginning of the book. I hated reading things like that when pregnant, but it was just a quick reference to it and Ted said that he only mentions it 2 or 3 times in the book. As I was waiting for my appointment, there was another reference to it.

               Yes, yes, being a mother, being a parent – maybe that would have
               saved me from self-obsession. I had come close. I loved that little boy
               who had died in Ellen’s womb. Loved him and loved her.

This was on page 49. I grimaced when I read that and quickly read on, I didn’t want that to be the last thing I read before being called in. I got to page 52 and was called in. And you all know the rest. The 3 scariest minutes of my life when she was trying to find his heartbeat but couldn’t. As she turned off the air conditioner so that she could hear better. As I stared at the ceiling, then stared at her face, then back to the ceiling. Willing her to find it, praying that she would find it. The split seconds when she did find a pulse, but it was mine. Then the words that are burned into my memory “I can’t find it”.

I clutched the book as I walked over to the hospital, as I waited for the ultrasound, as I called Ted and my parents and told them there was a problem. I saw it lying on the window sill while I waited for my family to arrive, as I lay there in labour.

I have been scared to pick up the book and start reading it again. I wonder if I don’t want to finish the book because it is one more thing from Jacob’s time that will be finished.

I decided that it is finally time to read the book again. Mostly because I want to jump over the hurdle (but I don’t want to do it when I am pregnant – it’s silly, but I don’t want to be reading the book that I was reading when I found out that Jacob died when I am pregnant again…just to be “safe”).

I grabbed the book this morning and started reading it on the train. I re-read the part about the baby that died and then I moved on. But I did grab another bookmark too. The bookmark that I was using on May 31st will forever stay on page 52. It just seems wrong to move it.

The Drive By

This one isn’t really a hurdle as I’ve been in the area before, but it is worth writing about. After dropping my sisters off at the GO train last night, I decided to drive by the hospital. The streets were empty, it was dark and raining lightly. I went by my OB’s office, which is across the road from the hospital. As I went by the corner where I was waiting for the light to change on May 31st, calling Ted to tell him there was a problem but also reassuring him that everything was probably OK (I didn't really believe that everything was OK, but I wanted to), I could see the other people that were on the street that day. There was one car in the intersection and a couple crossing the road. As I drove by the sidewalk I walked on to get to the maternity entrance, I could see the two hospital workers that had been standing outside that day smoking. I drove into the parking lot and stopped in front of the entrance to L&D and maternity. There was no one around inside or outside. But I saw the devastated, broken girl in the blouse and the skirt standing inside by the door, tears streaming down her face as she talked to her husband on the phone and they tried to reassure each other that everything was fine. I saw the two older ladies and the man sitting in the chairs waiting for news on the baby that was just being delivered, I saw the baby’s Dad come and say that it was a boy and they all hugged, I saw the people coming in and staring at me as they did, wondering why I was crying. I saw the girl standing by the driveway with her family around her, with empty arms and an empty belly, as she waited to be picked up to go home, heartbroken.

Then I drove home to my husband and my life as it is now.


mommy4boys said...

Well, written, Dana. I know these hurdles are some big ones and you are doing so well in jumping them in your own time. I am so proud of you and where you are right now. And I know each and every one of these took alot of strength and courage and sometimes it feels as though we are in it for the self torture. You are doing wonderfully and this is all part of the journey. Keep your head up,girl!

Drew's Parents said...

Oh Dana, you are so incredibly strong and brave. The way you decribed these hurdles gave me chills. The little details that you included and the emotions that you expressed are heartbreaking. You are getting there…to that strange unknown new normal we all have to find. In the process, you are doing an incredible job of honoring your son and supporting other baby loss mommies. I am sending you big big hugs as you make your way over these hurdles!

Elaine said...

I'm glad you were able to overcome these hurdles. They are big steps even if they don't seem that way. You are doing such a good job with overcoming this. I think Jacob is just in awe of how strong his momma is!

Jessica said...

You are one incredibly strong woman Dana! Those are huge hurdles and you did a great job overcoming them. (((hugs)))

Angela said...

Reading that last paragraph, the drive by, gave me chills. You have overcome so much, and you have taken huge strides lately. Lots of love - so proud of you.

Anonymous said...

Sigh. What a powerful entry. I have those hurdles too, driving past our old house, eating at the mexican place we always went to after appointments, hearing songs from that time, etc.. Its so hard. I hope it gets easier for all of us. <3

Rhiannon said...

Reading this post made me so sad, especially the last story about the drive by. I could really relate to it, there are so many reminders of those days when we lost everything. There is a song that reminds me of the week I was in the hospital. It was a song that I couldn't remember the name of so I was singing it to my mom and husband and we finally figured it out. Now every time I hear that song, I am taken back to the hospital the day before Harper died-back before I knew she would die. It makes me so sad because I still had hope then and I still had my daughter with me. I would give anything to go back there.

It has been such a hard summer for you and I think you are doing so well. You are so strong and such a loving mother to Jacob. Thinking of you and sending love.

Violet1122 said...

This post is so well-written Dana.

I'm so proud of you, jumping these hurdles. I know those things are harder than most people can imagine.

I especially thought the drive-by story was heartbreaking. It makes me ache to know who she was and the story of her baby.

I hope you are doing OK these days. I know it's going to be a tough road ahead, with Jacob's due date drawing near. Please know I'm thinking of you all the time, and I'm praying you find some peaceful moments.

((Big Hugs))

Jessie said...

I had no idea about all of that East Side Mario's stuff when we went there for dinner! Of course you seemed distracted, but I didn't know that the bleeding had happened there. Everything we were doing must have seemed so shallow to you as you struggled just to pay attention.