Friday, July 30, 2010

Pregnant women and a dream

Two days ago I was sitting on the subway on the way home from work. The guy sitting next to me got up and at the next stop a pregnant woman got on the train. There were other seats, but she sat next to me, of course. Not only was she pregnant, but she was about 7 months pregnant, what I should be right now. I could feel my chest getting tighter and a lump in my throat forming. I kept telling myself that I could do it, but then she started rubbing her belly and the tears started coming. I knew I couldn’t do it, that I shouldn't punish myself by staying, so I moved. It just ruined my night (not that my nights are ever good anyway), but all I could think about was the belly I should have been able to rub myself. We should have been two pregnant women sitting next to each other, not a woman who had everything to look forward to and a woman whose plans and dreams for the future were destroyed so recently.

That night I kept looking at Jacob’s ultrasound picture and apologizing to him because I couldn’t save him. I do this a lot. I just stare at the picture, tell him I love him and that I am so, so sorry. I hug the frame sometimes and carry it around with me.

When I can’t sleep at night, I get up and carry his blanket around with me. I’ve even caught myself standing at the window at 1am, cradling the blanket as if Jacob is in it and I am rocking him. Makes me feel crazy, but I’ve read that it’s normal to do. I also panic when I wake up at night and I’m not holding his blanket. It happens at least once a night and the blanket is never far, but I hate the feeling of not knowing exactly where it is.

Yesterday I saw so many pregnant women walking around at lunch and I just couldn’t take it so I went back to work early. At least there is only one pregnant woman at work who is 7.5-8 months pregnant now. I try to avoid her, but it seems like I am always running into her these days.  She has talked to Ted and knows that it is hard for me to see her and understands. She doesn't come up to my floor and I don't go down to hers. I know she understands when I avert my eyes the second I see her.

I had a good dream last night, but felt bad when I woke up. I was in a NICU with 4 other Moms that I have met since losing Jacob. I don’t know exactly who all of the babies were, but they were definitely those that I’ve come to know so much about. We were all happy because our babies were doing really well and they would all be coming home with us soon. We were all basically living in the NICU and had gotten to know each other really well and knew that we would be friends for a long time and we would all watch each other’s children grow up. I woke up about then and the unfairness of the whole thing started going through my mind again. I am so glad that I have met so many wonderful women, but why couldn’t we have met under happier circumstances. If not in the NICU, why not through our kids because they have met each other at school or at camp or through a playgroup.

I am just on the verge of tears all the time lately. I had a few days last week where I could hold it together pretty well during the day. I always cried at night, but the days weren’t horrible. Now this week has been a big blur of crying or trying not to cry. I’ve visited my “crying room” at work a few times. Maybe it is because we finally know that we will never know why Jacob died. Before this week, I held out some small hope that we would find out. I told myself again and again that we would never know, but when we actually found out that all the testing was done and there is no answer.... I’m just having trouble accepting it I guess. There is nothing I can do to prevent this from happening again with the next baby. I know it wasn’t my fault he died, that I didn’t in any way cause his death, but the fact is that my body failed him. I hate my body for doing this to him, to us, to everyone whose life Jacob would have touched if he had lived. I have never been so upset with myself.

Jacob, today your Dad and I were driving to Oakville to get the cats. He told me that he often daydreams about you, that this morning when he was lying in bed before getting up, he imagined you running into the room while we are still sleeping and climbing into bed with us. He also thinks about what you would have been like at about 10-11 months old when you would have been taking your first wobbly steps and how cute you would have been. I started crying when he said all this, but I tried not to let him see because I didn't want him to feel bad and stop telling me what he thinks about. 

We just miss you so much baby. Today has been a hard day. It has been a hard day for alot of angel Moms. I hope that all of you angel babies have been watching over us today, helping us through the incredible amount of pain that we all feel. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

This is me

Thanks for this idea Julie! I have really enjoyed reading about you and the other Moms who have posted this. Sometimes I feel like I am totally defined by losing Jacob, but there was so much to me before that. This is a nice reminder.


I was born in a smallish city 1.5 hours outside of Toronto. I lived there until I was 10 and then my family moved to a city 45 minutes west of Toronto. I have three younger sisters and I have always helped my Mom take care of them. I love having so many sisters. We all get along really well and it is nice having people who have known me for so long and who I have shared so many experiences with.
I was 8 in this picture.
We grew up going to the family cottages in the summer (there were 4 on one property, my great-grandfather built them). They were sold about 10 years ago. Six months after they were sold, some teenagers from the small town where the cottages are burned down three of them (the kids were caught). My parents bought a new cottage a few years later and we enjoy going there every summer.
The cottage is in the background. This picture taken
when we were closing the cottage for the winter
I've always wanted to be a Mom. I still call my sisters "the kids" sometimes, even though the youngest one is 26, because I helped my Mom with them alot when I was younger. I always played "Mom" and house when I was little. I have a clear memory of giving birth to my stuffed animals when I was 6 or 7. I guess I learned early how it all really worked.

When I was younger, I took gymnastics and piano lessons and played soccer. I have also played on a soccer team with some of my colleagues at work for a few years.


That's me, #3
I also like to ski and usually go with my Dad (but didn't this winter since I was pregnant).



I have never been to the Caribbean, but I have been to Europe a few times. I have been to London, Scotland (a bunch of different cities), Ireland (a bunch of different cities), Amsterdam, a few cities in Belgium, Paris, Nice, Lichtenstein, Lucerne, Cologne, Frankfurt, Innsbruck, Athens, some Greek Islands (Santorini, Mykonos, Delos, Crete, Patmos) and Kusadesi, Turkey. I have also been to a few different States in the US. I went to Disney World 2 years ago for the first time.

My sisters and I all got married within 2 years of each other and I was the last one to get married (by a month).

August 2007
October 2008

August 2009
We got married last September.







Our honeymoon was the trip to Greece and France.

Patmos, Greece
I met my husband 10 years ago at work. He was originally hired as a temp to help me through a really busy time. When that busy time was over, they kept him on and we became really good friends until 4 years ago when we started dating. We have a great relationship. I never thought I would actually marry someone that I get along so well with. He has a 21 year old daughter who is in med school and she is great.


I have a degree is psychology and sociology, but I don't really use it. I wanted to be a nurse or a Child Life Specialist, but I didn't end up doing either. Maybe it isn't too late, losing Jacob has renewed my enthusiasm for doing it, but going back to school right now isn't really an option. I volunteer for the Toronto International Film Festival (but I wasn't going to this year because I should have been 8 months pregnant!). I also volunteered at the Hospital For Sick Children in Toronto for a few years on the organ transplant floor and held babies whose parents couldn't be there, gave parents who were there all the time a chance to get out, and played with the older kids. The stories were heartbreaking and a few of the kids I got close to died after alot of struggling. It was heartbreaking. There are a few babies that really stand out because I spent so much time with them. Two of them died and one went home after a liver transplant. I was so happy the day I came for my shift and her Mom said they were going home and gave me a big hug. She was waiting for me every Monday night when I got there so she could have a shower and spend some time in the outside world.

I am quiet until I get to know people. I have never shared my feelings with anyone as much as I have since losing Jacob.

I have a 2 year old nephew who makes me really happy and has helped me heal, but I also feel sad sometimes when I see him because Jacob will never get the chance to do the same things he gets to do and they won't grow up together like we planned.

I have 2 cats, Oliver and Sadie, but my parents have had them since I got pregnant because DH wouldn't do the litter (the cats came with me when we got together, he isn't really an animal person). They still have the cats because we were selling our condo and thought it better not to have pets here. Everytime we go to my parents house, my cats run over and follow me around. I feel bad when I leave them there.


Oliver

Sadie

There are 8 cats in the family, everyone has 2 cats except one sister, who is allergic (but she loves them and cat sits for us all when needed). All of the cats have interesting stories of where they came from. One has 3 legs and one has an extra toe on each paw.

We are moving to our new house at the beginning of September and are looking forward to it. We will be living an 8 minute walk away from my sister Laurie and nephew Ben. We were really looking forward to walking to each other's house with our kids, going to parks with the kids, etc. It might still happen, just not when we thought it would.


I knit alot, mostly baby clothes because they are the most fun to make, but I have also made blankets, sweaters for adults, hats, scarves and socks. I love to read and play games on my ipod touch (I also like Guitar Hero and Rock Band, although I haven't played them in awhile because the XBox is broken). I love to sing, but I'm not very good at it. When I was younger, I really wanted to be in musicals, but over the years I've come to accept that I just don't have the voice for it. I memorized several musicals when I was a teenager and could act out many of the scenes (my favorite was Les Miserables - I wanted to be Eponine).

So all in all, a very happy life.

And then this:



We are still grateful for everything we have, but now we walk around with a hole in our hearts.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

This sucks

I'm just feeling negative right now, so please excuse the negative tone of this post.

I called my OB's office and asked if the autopsy report was in yet. The receptionist was nice but said it was there and that she had called and left a message with the chromosome results (1.5 weeks ago - his chromosomes were normal) and there are no more tests outstanding (it would have been nice to know this 1.5 weeks ago). So I asked/said that we just don't know why he died and she said no.

I kind of expected my doctor to call and talk to me about it when the final reports were in and I guess I'm a little disappointed that she didn't (isn't this a special case, not some regular test result?). I know I can call and ask to speak to her, but I don't really have any questions right now anyway so why bother. I've also been waiting since the receptionist left that message to call back since I thought that there were more tests to come in and my doctor had said to call in 2 weeks after I last saw her if I hadn't heard that they were in. I guess I should have called back sooner and saved myself this waiting game. At the end of the call, the receptionist did say that she hoped to see me soon, which was nice since that would mean that I am pregnant again (oh please oh please oh please let it happen soon).

I meant to ask for a copy of the autopsy report but I forgot to. I'll just call back later and ask for them to fax it to me.

I have been telling myself the whole time that we wouldn't find out why he died so that I wouldn't be so disappointed if that turned out to be the case. But you know what? I am really, really disappointed. I hate that I'll never know for sure how my own baby died.

I feel so unsatisfied.

Today started out as a decent day, now it has gone downhill. I suspected that it would. I am sick and tired of this. I want off of this rollercoaster, but I'll never be able to get off.

I know alot of people have alot of bad things happen to them and even losing Jacob could have been worse (there could have been more complications for me), but that isn't stopping me from feeling sorry for myself today, just grateful that my problems aren't even worse. 

I feel that this whole chapter of Jacob's life and my life has been closed for so many people now. It will never be closed for me.

The first Tuesday

Usual Tuesdays are especially bad for me, since Jacob was born on a Tuesday at 9am. I usually watch the clock until just after 9am, reliving what was happening during that time on the day he was born (and usually on the verge of tears or actually crying).

I just looked at the clock and realized that it is almost 10:30am and I didn't do it today, I didn't even think about doing it. I just got to work and started working. I never thought that I would have another Tuesday where I didn't go through the ritual of watching the clock and reliving everything. I still have flashbacks all the time, but I'm just really amazed about the change today.

I'm going to call my doctor this afternoon if her office doesn't call me. At my 6 week post-partum appointment, she said to call in 2 weeks if they haven't called with the autopsy results. I feel a little nervous. I think I'll just be disappointed if they don't have them (haven't I waited long enough already? It has been 8 weeks). She said she'd call the hospital if they haven't been received yet and see if she can speed things up.

A friend sent me this video today of a dog and a deer playing. It is so cute.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Another butterfly sighting

Yesterday was a really nice day here so Ted and I went to Cherry Beach. We decided to go at the last minute, when we were already out, so we didn't have any beach stuff with us, but we had fun watching the boats, windsurfers and the dogs. 

And one of the best things? I didn't see one single pregnant woman. I finally found somewhere to go where pregnant women are few and far between. I probably wouldn't have gone either if I was still pregnant since it was so warm and I would have been pretty big now.

We walked around and saw a lot of butterflies of all colours. We sat on a bench for about 30 minutes and saw the same large monarch butterfly fly around us and over us 3 times. Out of all the butterflies there, only this one kept flying near us. I especially associate monarch butterflies with Jacob. On the one month anniversary of his birth, we were at the garden where his ashes are buried and a monarch butterfly appeared about 5 minutes after I said to myself that I would love it if a butterfly came. It flew around, landing on the hedge that is around his burial place, on the tree that he is buried under and twice more on the hedge coming in the direction of where we were sitting. That was my first big sign from him. So seeing this monarch fly around us so much was special.

Tomorrow is the 8th Tuesday since he was born, but officially 2 months is really August 1. Today wasn't as bad as past Mondays have been. I went out with a friend for lunch and she surprised me with a necklace that she and her husband had bought for me in Scotland. It was totally unexpected and so appreciated. She started out as my Mom's friend, but I have gotten to know her and her husband well and they were really upset when they found out that we had lost Jacob. 

The new necklace



In other news, I didn't cry on Friday, the first day since we found out he died. I don't know how I feel about that. I should be glad, but I also felt kind of bad. 


I had an ultrasound this morning of my kidneys. The thing is that I had to go back to the same place where I had my first ultrasound with Jacob at 13 weeks because I had a previous one of my kidneys done there so they had the previous scan to compare this one too. I was in the same room, with the same technician, so I thought it might be hard. It wasn't too bad though. I was actually so tired that I was wishing I could just have a little nap on the table during the scan. I did think about how happy I had been the last time I was there, seeing my baby for the very first time. 


I couldn't sleep last night, so I got up as usual around midnight, cried for 1.5 hours and then went to bed. I was exhausted today. I really need to start sleeping better. 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

What is "Normal"?


Melissa, Laken's Mom, posted this and it is exactly how my life is now. I've changed it a little to suit my situation.

What is "Normal"?
Author Unknown

  • Normal is having tears waiting behind every smile when you realize someone important is missing from all the important events in your family's life.
  • Normal for me is trying to decide what to take to the cemetery for Birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years, Valentine's Day, July 1st and Easter.
  • Normal is feeling like you can't sit another minute without getting up and screaming, because you just don't like to sit through anything.
  • Normal is not sleeping very well because a thousand what if's & why didn't I's go through your head constantly.
  • Normal is reliving that day continuously through your eyes and mind, holding your head to make it go away.
  • Normal is having the TV on the minute I walk into the house to have noise, because the silence is deafening.
  • Normal is staring at every baby who looks like he is my baby's age. And then thinking of the age he would be now and not being able to imagine it. Then wondering why it is even important to imagine it, because it will never happen.
  • Normal is every happy event in my life always being backed up with sadness lurking close behind, because of the hole in my heart.
  • Normal is telling the story of your child's death as if it were an everyday, commonplace activity, and then seeing the horror in someone's eyes at how awful it sounds. And yet realizing it has become a part of my "normal".
  • Normal is each year coming up with the difficult task of how to honor your child's memory and his birthday and survive these days. And trying to find the balloon or flag that fits the occasion. Happy Birthday? Not really.
  • Normal is my heart warming and yet sinking at the sight of something special my baby would have loved. Thinking how he would love it, but how he is not here to enjoy it.
  • Normal is having some people afraid to mention my baby.
  • Normal is making sure that others remember him. Normal is after the funeral is over everyone else goes on with their lives, but we continue to grieve our loss forever.
  • Normal is weeks, months, and years after the initial shock, the grieving gets worse sometimes, not better.
  • Normal is not listening to people compare anything in their life to this loss, unless they too have lost a child. NOTHING. Even if your child is in the remotest part of the earth away from you - it doesn't compare. Losing a parent is horrible, but having to bury your own child is unnatural.
  • Normal is trying not to cry all day
  • Normal is realizing I do cry everyday.
  • Normal is disliking jokes about death or funerals, bodies being referred to as cadavers, when you know they were once someone's loved one.
  • Normal is being impatient with everything and everyone, but someone stricken with grief over the loss of your child.
  • Normal is sitting at the computer crying, sharing how you feel with chat buddies who have also lost a child.
  • Normal is feeling a common bond with friends on the computer in England, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and all over the USA, but yet never having met any of them face to face.
  • Normal is a new friendship with another grieving mother, talking and crying together over our children and our new lives.
  • Normal is not listening to people make excuses for God. "God may have done this because..." I love God, I know that my baby is in Heaven, but hearing people trying to think up excuses as to why healthy babies were taken from this earth is not appreciated and makes absolutely no sense to this grieving mother.
  • Normal is being too tired to care if you paid the bills, cleaned the house, did laundry or if there is any food.
  • Normal is wondering this time whether you are going to say you have any children when asked, because you will never see this person again and it is not worth explaining that my baby is in heaven. And yet when you say you don't have any children to avoid that problem, you feel horrible as if you have betrayed your baby.
  • Normal is avoiding McDonalds and Burger King playgrounds because of small, happy children that break your heart when you see them.
  • Normal is feeling like you know how to act and are more comfortable with a funeral than a wedding or birthday party...yet feeling a stab of pain in your heart when you smell the flowers and see the casket.
  • Normal is asking God why he took your child's life instead of yours and asking if there even is a God.
  • Normal is knowing I will never get over this loss, in a day or a million years.
  • And last of all, Normal is hiding all the things that have become "normal" for you to feel, so that everyone around you will think that you are "normal".

Friday, July 23, 2010

Oh grief, you are exhausting

I have been so tired since losing Jacob. I didn’t sleep well for about 3 weeks after he was born, but it has almost gone back to normal…now I just go to sleep about an hour or 2 later then I used to, which wouldn’t be bad if it only happened once in a while, but it happens almost every night. I just feel tired all the time. I have been crying when I go to bed for the last few days. Crying usually makes me even more exhausted, but it doesn’t help me go to sleep.

Other bad side effects of grief:

• Obviously, just feeling sad all the time. Will I ever feel truly happy again?

• Not being able to concentrate on things. I couldn’t watch a movie, a TV show or even a commercial and have any idea what was going on for about 3 weeks after we lost him. I would drift off into my thoughts during conversations, unless the conversation was about Jacob or about the Monday or the Tuesday when we found out he died and when he was born. Reading a regular book was out of the question. I could only read things about baby loss, grief, etc.

• Feeling more fragile in general. Nothing will ever disappoint me more than Jacob dying, and I thought that would make the everyday disappointments in life not even register with me anymore. But I actually find some things more upsetting than I would have in the past. Something that doesn’t even matter that much in the grand scheme of things, but I will think about it for days. Maybe my mind just needs to think of something other than my baby dying, although I am always thinking about that underneath it all.

• Anxiety – I haven’t had an anxiety attack yet, but on Wednesday night I was making dinner and suddenly I felt really nervous, like something bad was about to happen. Nothing did of course, my heart was just racing and I felt a little bit nauseous. It passed after a few minutes. I’ve never felt like that before unless I was waiting to write an exam or go for an interview or something like that.

• Appetite – mine has returned to normal mostly, but the first 2 weeks I didn’t eat unless food was put in front of me. Then I ignored my hunger because I was so mad at my body, I wanted to punish it for letting my baby die.

• Crying, of course. The constant crying for the first week, then the crying every hour or so the second week and a gradual decline since then. The crying could be a few tears or, most of the time, it was a huge one. Sometimes I would just sit on the floor wherever I was and cry my eyes out, I didn’t even have the strength to get to the couch or bed. The past few days I lie in bed with Jacob’s blanket and cry while looking at his ultrasound picture. Seeing myself in a mirror, with no belly, also sets me off most of the time.

• The guilt, oh the overwhelming guilt.

I’m sure there are more things to add here.

Jacob, I miss you especially bad this morning. I realized last night while trying to go to sleep that I would have been 28 weeks pregnant yesterday. Our lives could have been so different.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A shift?

Dear Jacob,

I think there may have been a small shift in my grief, at least there was this morning. I think it may have shifted back now.

Today was the first day at work when I have really felt productive, when I have had the motivation to get things done. That rain cloud that I have been walking around with over my head seems to be letting a little ray of sunshine through. It is an interesting feeling.

I have been back at work for almost 5 weeks, although I didn’t work the entire week for a few of them, and I feel like I have just been getting by. I have done the things that absolutely needed to get done, but I just didn’t have the energy or motivation to do anything else. All I could think about was you, all I could feel was my sadness. I still think about you all the time, I still feel sad, but I seem to be able to do that now and really apply myself to something else at the same time. I didn’t even know it was possible to feel like that again. I know there is a long, long way to go, but this is a start.

That being said, I still spend more time on the internet looking at baby lost mama blogs then I should while at work – and I am writing this at work.

I am also starting to feel like I can just write in this blog without it being a letter to you. I have written a few entries that way, but then I went back and changed them. We’ll see if a shift comes to this blog too.

I can’t help feeling guilty about all of this though. I know that I shouldn’t feel guilty about feeling a little bit better, but it isn’t easy to stop.

I also feel like I need to reassure you that just because I don’t feel as horrible as I used to, I’m not forgetting you and I don’t love you any less. Trust me, that will never happen.

Love,

Mom

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

No too bad, for a Tuesday

Dear Jacob,

Today wasn't too bad for a Tuesday, the 7th Tuesday since you were born. I didn't wake up with the feeling of an adult elephant sitting on my chest, just a baby one.

I think it helped that I was working on our story for most of the day for website Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope. I have relived what happened over and over and over again in my mind, and I've written it down before, but I guess it helped me to do it again.

I also started writing about the pregnancy in general, which I haven't done before. I wrote a few things when I actually was pregnant. I so wish I had done it more often, but it is what it is. Some of the memories even made me laugh....mainly how nauseous I was and how a few times I'd be in the shower throwing up. Another time I was in the middle of eating dinner and I had to slap my hand over my mouth and run for the bathroom. At the time I never thought that would be a fond memory, but you were a part of it, so it is a good one.
I was looking outside the window yesterday and I suddenly remembered how I used to do that with you when I got up in the middle of the night to have some crackers. I was never alone and I loved that.

My favorite times in the pregnancy were when I felt you move, when I would lie on the couch or the bed and see the bump that you were creating in my belly, and seeing you move on the ultrasounds. I loved seeing you. I couldn't believe you were actually inside of me, that I was actually growing a baby. I cherished every second of it at the time and I still do.

I haven't cried yet today, but of course, the day isn't over. It bothers me that I haven't cried yet. Usually Tuesdays are really hard. I don't know if I am ready to let that go yet, I don't think so.

I miss you baby, you have no idea how much I miss you.

Love,

Mom

Addendum: The crying started just before midnight and lasted an hour.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I wish I could have....

Dear Jacob,

There are so many things that I wish could have been different. My biggest wish, of course, is that you had lived and that you were healthy. My second biggest wish is that you had lived longer.

I should be 27 weeks pregnant with you now and how I wish that I was. Even if I knew that I was going to lose you, I wish I was still pregnant. I would have known you so much better. I would have gotten to know what you liked me to eat, I would have felt more of your cute little kicks. They would have kept me awake at night and I would have loved that. I thank God that I got to feel you kick for a month before you died, I waited for it everyday and it made me so happy. But it wasn't enough time. I guess whatever time we had would never have been enough, but what we did have definitely wasn't. We were cheated. You were cheated and I'm sorry I couldn't do anything about that. You know that I would have done anything to save you.

I wish I had a better idea of what you would have looked like, we would have if only you had lived even another week or two. Or if you hadn't died before you were born. We did get an idea. You had a wide mouth, big lips (your Daddy's) and your Dad's nose. We couldn't really tell whose eyes you had, but I like to think they were mine. You had broad shoulders and your collarbones stuck out the way mine do. Your legs were muscular. Your Aunty Jessie was fascinated by your right leg and foot. The way it was positioned, it looked like it was in action, as if you were about to kick a soccer ball. No matter how many times we moved you around, it always seemed to go back to that position. Adorable.

I wonder if you would have had my cheekbones and my ears. I think you did and I think you had my chin, but it was hard to tell. Would you have had long fingers like Daddy and I do? I think you had my long neck. When I see pictures of other babies who were born when we think you died, their little faces look like a miniature version of a full-term baby, with a little less fat. I know you looked like that before you died, we have such a clear profile shot of your face at 18.5 weeks. You are my beautiful boy.



I feel like it was such a gift that your eyes were open when you were born. I didn't expect them to be, from everything that I have read, they shouldn't have opened for a few more weeks. I wish I could remember seeing both of your eyes open, but Dr. A was still working on me and I still had to push out the placenta when I first got to hold you. I couldn't see you that well because of the position I was in. Your Dad did though and he told me that both of your eyes were open. Then your right eye shut, I guess just because of the position I was holding you in kind of made your right eyelid close. I am so grateful your left eye didn't close. It was like you were keeping one eye open to have a look at us too. I feel like we got a better look into your soul. We got to know you better than we would have if we had never looked into your beautiful little eyes.

Thank you baby.

Love,

Mom

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Chromosomes

My doctor's office left me a message at home today, which I got after work. They said that Jacob's chromosomes were normal. So absolutely nothing was wrong with the way he developed. That brings me comfort. It makes me feel like I can grow a healthy baby. Whether or not I can keep one alive remains to be seen.

I don't know if that means the final autopsy result will arrive soon. My doctor is on vacation for a week now so it is another week of waiting before I can call and find out. I should be used to that now. The last time she called me at home, she was leaving to catch a plane and wanted me to get the anatomy ultrasound a week early, so I again had to wait and couldn't ask her my questions. But because of that ultrasound being moved up, I saw Jacob alive one last time. He moved so much and I got an excellent profile picture of him. If I had waited until May 26th for the ultrasound, he likely would have already been dead.

It was nice to come home to that message. It's strange, today at work I thought I should call home and check my messages, but I have done that so many times hoping that she would have called with some results and been disappointed each time, so I didn't bother.

One more piece of the puzzle has been placed.

A glimpse of peace

Dear Jacob,
We had a bit of a scare last night with one of the family cats, but you probably know that. There are 8 cats between all of us and your Grandma and Grandpa had 6 of them for awhile. When I got pregnant, my 2 cats – Oliver and Sadie – went to live there since I couldn’t do the litter (to keep you safe) and your Dad didn’t want to do it (since he doesn't really like having cats in the first place, he 'inherited' them when we moved in together).

Then when Lindsay and Brian went to Ireland, Mom and Dad took their 2 cats – Tri and Peanut- for a few weeks. When it was time to bring them back to Brian, Tri was so happy at Grandma and Grandpa’s that we just couldn’t bring him back. So they took Ocean there instead and he seemed to be doing fine. Until Laurie talked to Brian yesterday afternoon around 4pm and discovered that Ocean had been missing since the night before! Brian said he must have snuck out when he was taking the recycling out. Ocean is all grey and he can easily sneak by you, so we can see how it happened. I don’t think Brian realized he was missing until the next day when he got home from work. Laurie, Jessie, your Dad and I all went there after work to look for him. We really love that little cat. He is so gentle, gets along with everyone and follows everyone around, even Ben who is unpredictable and scary to the other cats since he is only 2.


We really didn’t think that we would find him since he had been gone for so long and he was in a place that he has never been before. I tried to hold out hope that he would get scared and just crouch down somewhere and stay there, especially since Lindsay and Brian live on a very busy street and we were worried that Ocean would try to cross it (he was hit by a car before we adopted him and broke his pelvis).


We all split up to search and your Dad and I starting walking down a driveway between apartment buildings, thinking that Ocean might get mixed up and think that it led back to Lindsay and Brian’s place. We went down the closest one to their building, looking in all the little stairwells. When we got to the back, your Dad looked up and saw Ocean sitting on a fire escape! I couldn’t believe it! I probably wouldn’t have seen him up there at all if your Dad hadn’t been there. The fire escape is all grey, just like Ocean, and he was lying down so your Dad’s height helped in spotting him. I put my bags on the ground and slowly walked up the stairs, talking to him the whole time. He got up and walked through the railing onto the neighbours fence and I worried that he would jump down there. I slowly sat on the stairs, talking to him the whole time and your Dad starting rattling one of my bags, which kind of sounded like a bag that cat treats come in. Ocean slowly walked back over to the steps where I was and I picked him up.

That is when I felt a peace that I haven’t felt in 6 weeks, since losing you. I had forgotten what it felt like, to not feel weighed down with grief. It was a glimpse of what I might actually be able to feel again more often someday. It was good to know that I still have it in me to feel that and gives me hope. If I never feel better than I do now, it would be a pretty hard life and I’m not sure how long I could live like this.

Laurie starting walking up the alley as we walked down towards the apartment and she couldn’t believe it when she saw him in my arms. I worried he would get spooked by all the traffic on Jarvis and I could feel he was nervous, but he didn’t try to get away. We got back, called Jessie to let her know we found him and we just held him and loved him. He loved it. I was holding him like a baby and we were all patting him. Looking back on it now, I realize that I haven’t held a cat like that since losing you and I always used to. It wasn’t painful to do either, I thought it might be since I will never hold you like that again.

Your Dad was the hero last night. If he hadn’t seen Ocean, who knows what would have happened. Would we ever have found him?

Maybe you were the hero too. It has crossed my mind that maybe you had something to do with helping us find him so easily. What were the odds? A cat missing in Toronto for about 18 hours (hmm, the same number of hours that I was in labour). He could have been in one of the backyards and we wouldn’t have found him, he could have left that fire escape, he could have been hit by a car or taken by someone who would have mistreated him. We were in the right place at the right time.


Here is the little guy. He has really round eyes, but he always squints when a picture is taken.



Thank you baby. You saved us all from even more heartache.

Love you forever,


Mom


P.S. I still had a good cry last night, and at work yesterday, because I miss you so much. When we were eating dinner last night, I asked your Dad if he had any sad times yesterday and he said that he did. Every time he sees his tattoo with your name and the little footprints, he has a wave of sadness and said that you will always be his first son. I cry just writing this and I cried at the time. We miss you so, so much. You have no idea how much. Our lives have been shattered by losing you.


I would have been 27 weeks pregnant today.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Some answers, but not THE answer - a long post

Dear Jacob,

Today was a big day.  A day that I have been both looking forward to and a day that I have been scared of.

I went back to see Dr. A today for my 6 week post-partum appointment.

It was hard, so hard, walking into her office again. I held it together, meaning I didn't break down sobbing, but just barely. I still cried. When Dad and I got there, Dr. A wasn't there and there were 3 pregnant woman waiting there. I went to the bathroom right away and had a little mini breakdown. Of course, right beside the bathroom is the exam room that I was in when Dr. A couldn't hear your heartbeat and I looked there without even realizing it. Not a good thing to have done.

When I went back to the waiting room, I sat next to a 4 month or so pregnant woman and there were a couple of 8-9 month pregnant women there. I just stared at the floor and somehow stopped the tears. One woman was there with her Mother and I saw the Mother looking at me from time to time. She could tell I was upset, but I'm sure didn't guess that my baby died.

I thought about asking to go and wait in one of the exam rooms and I considered standing in the hall to wait, but I told myself to just stay there, that I could do it. It is like I had to prove it to myself. But, once again put myself in a situation where I feel terrible. I just do it all the time. I guess I somehow like bringing my pain right to the surface sometimes.

Dr. A arrived and said hi to everyone then Jan, her receptionist, starting showing people into the rooms. I think Dr. A just came from the hospital since she was in scrubs, she probably just delivered a baby.

Jan called me in and of course took me to the room where I found out you died. I couldn't step foot into it. I just stood in the doorway and said that I found out that you died in that room and could I please go into the other exam room. She apologized, said she didn't realize and of course I could. I had to wait in the waiting room a bit more though since there was someone in there. Once Dad and I were called in, we just stood there and hugged each other. That was the room that I heard your heartbeat for the first and last time (I only actually heard it once - I didn't even get to listen to it for that long at the 4 month appointment because Dr. A had to run over to the hospital to deliver a baby). I am so scared that I will forget the sound of your heart beating. It was perfect that day, May 3rd. How my life has changed since then.

Dr. A came in and was nice, as always. She asked how we were doing. I said we were coping and she asked if it was getting better. I said it was, a little bit everyday, but there are still just plain bad days. She asked if we were getting counselling, which we aren't, but I told her I talked to a woman from church and that I have been going to online support boards and that has helped me enormously. She mentioned Rev. Mike and how calm and comforting he was. She was there when he was in the room saying a prayer right before you were born. She also thanked me for the letter I wrote to the hospital 4 days after losing you. I found a place for patient comments on the hospital website and said that she was amazing throughout the experience and that 2 of the nurses I had were really good too. The hospital replied, saying they would forward my comments to everyone mentioned. Dr. A thought it was really nice of me to do that, especially considering what I had just been through. I just figured that the hospital administration should know that these 3 people made my experience so much better.

Then we finally got down to what I really wanted to know. She said that my blood work was normal. There was no infection and no clotting disorders. So that is a relief, but she didn't have the autopsy results yet. I was pretty disappointed about that. She did say that the placenta was a little small, but that shouldn't have caused your death. I asked if it could have been an amniotic band that wrapped around your umbilical cord and she thinks it may have been. She said she should have the autopsy results back by 8 weeks, so if I don't hear from her in 2 weeks, I should call her and they will call the hospital to get things moving. She explained that they may be getting someone else to look at everything before doing the final report and they do all the cancer biopsies first, which I totally understand.

The good news is that we can start trying again. She said that she knows I will probably have some anxiety and I said that I would have alot of anxiety. She said that she almost always sees a good outcome after a loss like this, she can't guarantee it of course, but is very hopeful. I had to bring up that I just don't think that I did anything wrong that could have caused you any problems and she said that unless I was a crackwhore, I couldn't have caused anything. I also asked if you would have felt any pain. I was so worried that you might have felt pain. She said she just doesn't know (I like that she is honest). I don't think you did. My Dad found an article in the paper about when babies can start feeling pain in utero and they said it was about 26 weeks, so that had brought me some relief.

She also told me that she had a miscarriage between her 2 kids and that it doesn't matter how early or late a loss is. A loss is a loss and it is all terrible, but that we have all had something terrible happen in our lives. She told us someone was really surprised that she had a miscarriage because she is an OB. We had a little laugh at that, like she is exempt from that sort of thing because she is an OB. I asked how she handled anxiety during pregnancy since she has seen so many bad things. She basically said you just do. She used to be a pediatric nurse before becoming a doctor and she saw a lot of bad things then too.

I don't think she realizes how much I want to know everything, that it bothers me more not to know than to know. I'll have to tell her that next time. I asked what kind of complications could have arisen since you were breech (since it obviously wouldn't effect your survival) and she didn't really say, she just said why think about the bad things that could have happened. I guess it makes me feel a little better to know what worse thing could have happened but didn't.

We asked about whether or not I would be high risk next time and she said there isn't really a reason for me to be since I didn't have diabetes or a clotting disorder or something like that. Of course, if I'm not high-risk, I won't go in to see her more often and I won't get as many ultrasounds. I asked about the ultrasounds and she said that sometimes that can cause more stress than reassurance. I know I would be stressed out before them, just in case the baby was dead so I can see that, but I think I still want them and I told her that. We can work all that out when there is actually a baby on the way though.

After we asked all our questions, she hugged me. She didn't examine me to make sure my cervix is closed or anything.

I have to take 5mg of folic acid from now until the end of my 3rd trimester and she gave a bunch of free samples and said that she hopes to see me soon (I hope so too since that would mean that I'm pregnant) and that I can call her if I need anything.

After that appointment, I don't even know how I felt. Relieved that I don't have a clotting disorder or some other problem, but unsatisfied too. Of course, I always feel unsatisfied these days. I am empty because you aren't with me, I will never hold you in my arms again. I wonder if this empty feeling will ever decrease so that I don't feel so incredibly empty all the time.

After leaving her office, we drove to the church to visit you in the garden. It is Vacation Bible School this week though so there were a bunch of kids in the garden and we couldn't really go in and start crying. I liked seeing the kids run around there, close to where you are buried. We went into the church and saw my Mom and sister Laurie, who are volunteering there and told them what happened. Then Dad and I walked by the lake and back to the church, around the downtown and back to the church again. I saw Rev Mike's wife and she asked how we are doing. I told her about the appointment and how Dr. A mentioned Mike and I asked how his knee surgery went. Then we went upstairs and saw Shirley and Rev. Jacquie, who I have never actually met before, but Mom told me that she looked really sad back in June when she found out that you died. We shook hands with her and she looked sad - she didn't say anything, but I could tell by the look on her face that she felt bad for us. We asked Shirley where the book is with your name in it - with all of the names of those who are buried in the garden. The calligrapher hasn't been in yet, so your name isn't there, but at least we know where the book is now.

While we were sitting on a bench near the garden, I saw a butterfly land on some bushes and then fly around the corner to where the garden is. I am always looking for signs of course. Was that from you? How about the little white butterfly that we saw on the path by the lake?

We went to Mom's house for 2 hours and then went to Dr. D (my family doctor) for my appointment. He walked in the room and gently asked what happened to me. I just said "my baby died" and started crying. I didn't cry for long, but my voice was pretty husky for awhile. I went through what happened and he said how sorry he was a few times and how it was just terrible. He said when he started seeing the reports that Dr. A was sending to him, he felt so badly ( why he didn't call then...). I told him how you had amniotic band syndrome and said that I know it is rare. He said that he has delivered over 1000 babies and has never seen it. Lucky us.  He kept asking if I was sleeping OK, which I am most of the time, but there are bad nights where sleep doesn't come easily. I think he wanted to give me something to help me sleep, but I don't want anything. He asked if I was depressed. I said yes (of course) but not clinically. He told me how his sister had 2 miscarriages with her first and second pregnancies and she thought she would never be able to have a baby, but now she has 3 healthy adult children. I love hearing stories like that.

I saw on the computer that he had some reports about you - a preliminary autopsy summary, another general report about you and a pathology report. I asked for copies of all of them and having them has actually made me feel a little better. I need to see these things and read them over again and again.

They didn't really tell me anything that Dr. A didn't, but it confirmed the diagnosis of amniotic band syndrome, said that there was evidence of abruption (shouldn't that make me high risk next time - I have to ask Dr. A about that), no sign of infection and that there was 'fetal demise'. One of them also said that tissue has been sent to another hospital for further analysis, so I guess that is what Dr. A is waiting so that she gets a full, final autopsy report. I really wanted to know when your autopsy was done and now I know. It was on June 2 at 2:15pm. It also said that other than the amniotic bands, you were 'normal morphologically on external and internal examination".

Overall, I'm glad I got some answers. I don't really expect to get more. I felt terrible most of the day though.

I just want you baby. I tell myself to be grateful that you won't have a lifetime of suffering. I am grateful for that. It would have been pure hell watching you suffer everyday and not be able to do anything about it. We just don't know how much damage the amniotic bands would have done.

 I'm not asking why this happened to me. Why not me? But I do want to know why this happened to you, my wonderful, innocent baby who did not deserve this. You deserve to live a good life just like everyone, but you didn't get it. I'm really trying to believe that you are better off where you are, that you are happy and healthy and that you will never feel any physical or emotional pain.

I am so mad that there were bands in the first place.

I'm sorry I couldn't save you. So, so sorry.

Love,

Mom

Monday, July 12, 2010

Yesterday, today and tomorrow

Dear Jacob,
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Sunday was a hard day. I woke up not feeling too bad, but the heavy cape of sadness slowly lowered itself around me. Dad and I were sitting around most of the morning, I made some banana bread, he did some gardening on the balcony. We took pictures of his tattoo and then put them on the computer.

A few days after you died, Dad went around the house taking pictures of all of the flowers that we received from others. He put the card with your footprints and handprints and the little teddy bear the hospital gave us (that stayed with you for several hours in the little box until we came back) amongst the flowers and took pictures. We added the pictures of his tattoo to these pictures and then Dad played all of the pictures in a slideshow with the song “Butterfly” by Mariah Carey in the background. I just started crying and crying. I can’t believe you are gone.


When it was time to get ready to go to the musical, I tried on a pair of pre-pregnancy pants. Big mistake – why do I do things to torture myself? I couldn’t do them up of course and that just made me cry harder - sobbing crying. Dad offered to help me find something to wear, because he knows that when I’m crying like that, I just get really frustrated, cry harder and can’t really do anything. But I just had to stand there and hug him and cry and cry before we could pick out what to wear. I ended up wearing some capris, but couldn’t even do up the zipper all the way, so I wore a t-shirt that covered up that whole area.


Once I got to the theatre, I met up with Grandma and we went upstairs so she could go to the bathroom. There were 2 other woman waiting up there, sitting in some chairs. Of course, one of them was pregnant – about 6.5-7 months along I’m guessing. Very close to where I should be. I started crying all over again. I walked away from them and stood staring at a wall and the tears just poured down my face. I knew that my shoulders were shaking and I wondered if they were watching me. I was so miserable. We bought these tickets in December, before I was even pregnant. When we found out I was pregnant at the beginning of February, I occasionally pictured going to the musical with my big belly, thinking that it would be one of the last ones I would go to for awhile. There I was, no baby in my belly, feeling really empty and no one around me knowing it. I really wanted to ask that woman how far along she was and tell her to appreciate every single second. That she could easily have been me but she got lucky (and I hope she stays that way).



When the musical started, there were about 10 young women on the stage, dancing and jumping around. What did I think? I wondered how many of them would lose their babies. I am so pessimistic about that these days. I am very hopeful that I will get pregnant soon, but I am so pessimistic about pregnancy producing a living, healthy baby now. I did start to enjoy myself a little, which surprised me. I had my moments, but once I had something else to focus on, it was good. I had to tell myself a few times to actually pay attention to what was going on though, to not totally waste the money I had spent to be there.



During the intermission, I stood up to stretch my legs. Who else did that? The same pregnant woman I saw earlier. She was sitting in the row in front of me and a little to the right, just so that I could have the perfect view of her belly.



Life just sucks sometimes (ok, most of the time these days).



We went out for dinner after with Antoinette, Phil and her kids. I haven’t seen Phil since losing you, but did talk to her on the phone once. She is one of the people I thought would call or come see me at work, but she didn’t (apparently she planned to, but never did). Anyway, no one mentioned anything about you and I hated that, so I brought you up in passing. They were talking about one of the students who is working with us for the summer and how nice he is. He is about 20, I pretty much only know him to say Hi, but when we lost you, he sought your Dad out and said how sorry he was to hear about our loss and asked how I was. I was surprised by this at the time, and touched. So I told everyone how he did that when we lost you. They went on saying how nice he is, but didn’t say anything about you again.


On the subway on the way home, I heard some girls talking. They were in their late teens and were talking about the future, which of course involved kids. One said that by the time she is 25, she would be pregnant or already have a kid. Little do they know. I remember thinking like that at that age, never even having it occur to me that I could lose my baby. Life was so much easier at that time, with that little bit of innocence about these things. How I wish I could still think like that, just assume that everything will work out. I always knew that bad things could happen during pregnancy. Grandma was a nurse and told us some really sad stories. But I never thought I would lose my baby after I passed 12 weeks.



I just had one of those moments where I thought I was still pregnant. I have a headache and just realized that I wasn’t taking anything for it because of you. Guess I’ll go take some pain reliever now. I hate that I can.



I think I was also more emotional yesterday because Monday and Tuesday were looming (although today hasn’t been too bad yet) and because my 6 week post-partum appointment with Dr. A is tomorrow morning. I am nervous about being in that office again, where she couldn’t hear your heartbeat. I am scared that they will have found no reason for your death. I assume that that is the case though, since she hasn’t called me with any results.


Can you give us some strength tomorrow Jacob? I could really use it.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Tattoo!

Dear Jacob,

Your Dad got his tattoo yesterday and I love it. We have been talking about getting tattoos since you died but we hadn't really said when we would do it. Yesterday we went downtown, stopped by the gallery to visit Aunty Jessie and then left to go to an art show. Your Dad mentioned that we should go to Queen St instead and look into tattoos. I thought he just meant to look at some of the tattoo places and maybe get a design, but he actually wanted to get one. We stopped at the first place we saw, called Adrenaline, and it seemed like a good, safe place. We designed the tattoo and waited for our turn. I have to admit, I was pretty nervous. Neither of us have any tattoos and I started worrying that your Dad might contract some disease or infection by doing it. I knew I was being silly, but I worry about these things. I asked about their procedures to ensure that doesn't happen and was satisfied with their answers and started to feel calmer about the whole thing.

It didn't take too long for the tattoo to be done and your Dad was brave. It hurt, I could see it that it did and I felt bad for him. I had a glimpse of how he felt when he was watching me in labour, during the very worst part of the pain, and he couldn't do anything other than hold my hand. He told me how helpless he had felt.  I also got emotional when the tattoo artist was working. There was mirror across the room from me and I was amazed at how quickly the pain showed on my face - now I see how Dad can read my emotions so well. I was so sad that we were at a tattoo parlour, getting a tattoo of your name because you died. I was also really touched that your Dad wanted to get the tattoo and he wanted to get it right then.


I want to get one too, but haven't decided where to get it yet. 

I love looking at your Dad's arm. It is so nice to see your name there.  We asked for baby footprints, but didn't specify the size. They showed us these and we realized that they are the same size that your feet were. I look at those little footprints all the time. 

Love you. Miss you alot. Today was a hard, hard day.

Mom

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Another dream....

I finally got to sleep this morning around 3am. I woke up at 4:30am with my heart racing. I had another dream.

In my dream, I was pregnant, just like I should be now. I was so indescribably happy. I can't remember feeling that happy. I woke up and I still felt that happy. Then I reached down to rub my belly and I felt indescribable despair.

I don't think today is going to be a good day.

Just a quick note...

to tell you how much I miss you.

The nights are getting harder again. I have been holding it together pretty well during the day, with small crying spells here and there, but the past few nights have been worse than usual. My sleep is starting to be like the first week that we lost you. I stay up pretty late, force myself to go to bed, cry alot and eventually fall asleep.

Amazingly I have worn makeup to work a few times this week for the first time since you died (which I also managed to keep on throughout the day - a big accomplishment) and that helps cover up my tired, sad looking eyes.

Maybe it has gotten worse because we will be at the 6 week mark soon. Maybe it is because we are going back to see Dr. A next week. Part of me is looking forward to the appointment. I have tons of questions. But part of me is scared of being in her office again, the place that she couldn't find your heartbeat. Tuesday is going to be so tough, but nothing will be harder than losing you. I feel like I can get through anything now because I have already been through the worst.

I know you are with us now and will be with us on Tuesday. I hope we get signs from you for years to come. They give me so much comfort.

Love you,

Mom

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Unexpected tears for you

Hi baby boy,

Today Dad was talking to a woman at work named Maria. I’ve talked to her a few times over the years and always thought that she was really nice, but our paths don’t cross at all in the areas we work in. Dad has worked with her more and knows her better and has always thought how nice she is too.

He went to see her this morning with a question about something. She asked how he was and how I was and said how excited we must be (about you). It turns out she didn’t know that you had died since she was working offsite in June. He thought that she already knew about us losing you as most people have heard it through the grapevine. He told her that you died and said that I am doing a little bit better everyday (our standard response), but that it has been really hard.

She was shocked that you died and started crying! I love her for crying! I will always, always remember that she cried for us, for you. Dad told her the whole story (from the great ultrasounds, to not finding your heartbeat, to the bad ultrasound, to giving birth to you and holding you for hours) and she kept crying the whole way through, wiping tears from her eyes, asking questions. She had just the reaction I want people to have. Dad told her how we are going to see Dr. A next week and are nervous about getting the results of your autopsy – what if we don’t get any answers. What if we do?

He told her how careful I was when I was pregnant, she said she was the same way when she was and drove her doctor nuts with questions about what she could and couldn’t eat. I was so careful with you, I watched everything that I ate and everything I was exposed to, but it didn’t do you any good. Next time I just want to be tube fed and live in a plastic bubble until your little brother or sister is born.

I want people to feel horrible for us (most people do), to acknowledge the pain we are in and to cry for us, to show that they hurt for us too. I just want to go and hug her for crying. I am so grateful for that. She kept saying how devastating it is. She will never know the gift she has given me by her reaction. She is shy and I am shy, so I don’t expect her to call me like some people have, and that is fine. Her crying for us will help me get through the next few days. She hasn’t even lost a baby (she has a little girl), but she reacted as if she had gone through it too.

Maybe this sounds strange, but it made me happy and I felt really satisfied that she felt so badly for us. She didn’t give any of the usual comments about trying again or even worse, that maybe it was for the best or it happened for a reason. She just cried for us. Someday I will tell her how grateful I am for that.

Love you,

Mom