May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
-Irish Blessing

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Calm Before the Storm

Our Friday evening visit to L&D pushed us into overdrive. I can now say that everyone's bag, not just baby's, is packed. The house is pretty clean, the clothes are washed, cupcakes and frosting are made and waiting in our freezer. I wouldn't say I'm ready, but I won't say that I'm not. Today I am calm and baby is busy.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hoping to Hold Baby In

We've had some developments which have me very worried that baby will make an early arrival. I've never gone into labor after carrying four full term pregnancies so, believe it or not, this is a new experience for me. I told my husband last night that I find it very irritating. With a "normal" pregnancy this would be no big deal but this is a one time thing. We have one chance to have everyone there that we want to be there. One chance, no do overs. A middle of the night delivery would not be ideal for our small children. A last minute delivery would mean that almost all of our family would miss the delivery and the chance to meet our baby. To complicate matters, my OB is also currently out of town and she has delivered all four of our children so far. I would be devastated if she could not deliver this little one. March 11th couldn't be any farther away today. Please pray that we will not need to deliver this little one prior to my scheduled March 11th c-section.

I feel the need to update this post now that I've had a chance to catch my breath. I realize that it is a luxury for me to know the date of my baby's death and that very few parents ever get that opportunity. It is selfish in a way for me to complain that baby might not come when I expect baby to come because in the world of babies, they usually come when they are ready to come which is not always when parents intend for them to come. I get that. Wyatt's birth was probably the best day of my life and part of that was knowing when he was going to be born and being able to make those preparations, painful though they were. That experience clouds my current perspective on this pregnancy and delivery and the expectations that I have based on that experience are hard to let go of.

Friday, February 25, 2011

I Can Now Partially Exhale

All week I have been holding my breath waiting for this morning to pass. This morning our two youngest daughters had ultrasounds of their kidneys and bladders. It is a necessary piece of this puzzle for us in the hopes of finding some answers as to why two of our children have not developed kidneys. We have to make sure that all of the rest of us have kidneys and then whether those kidneys are normal and functioning. I had mine scanned at our level two ultrasound in December and verified there are two non-remarkable kidneys inside of me, sadly, there should be four right now. Our oldest has had hers scanned before related to a urinary tract infection and urine reflux condition which was subsequently discovered so we have verified that she has two. So, then it was just my husband and two littlest ones to go. Today was the girls' day. I exhaled (partially) when I was able to verify that each girl does indeed have two kidneys and I will save the rest of that breath until we can confirm that they are normal looking and functioning kidneys. I thank God for letting those kidneys be there today.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Funny Thing Happened While Planning a Funeral

Today I received a call from my parish nun regarding an email I sent yesterday to her and the priest about funeral arrangements. She was wondering if we could get together to do some planning. I was excited to have some help since my husband is not religious and that's not exactly "his thing" so we set up a meeting for later this morning and she graciously offered to come to our house. Sister arrives and we sit down at the kitchen table and begin looking at readings and talking about the service. My two youngest daughters are happily dancing in the adjoining living area. The older one catches my attention and points to her youngest sister. I look up and see the little one running around with just her shirt and underpants on. I asked her to please put her pants back on to which she promptly refused. They disappeared for a minute and returned to the living room both without their pants.

My children dancing around the living room with no pants on and a nun at my kitchen table. Seriously. I just couldn't make this stuff up.

What if it Happened Again?

Since finding out about this little one's Potter's Syndrome I have read many many stories from parents who have lost children. I have read books and blogs and memorial websites. Very few from parents who have lost more than one child, and I don't know if I've read any from parents such as myself, who have lost two children to the same condition which was supposed to be a "fluke" and continues to be unexplained. My question relates to those who have clung to their faith, perhaps were even strengthened by it as they awaited the birth of a child not expected to survive or attempted to gather themselves after the unexpected loss of a child before or after birth. So many have shared stories of complete faith that God will/would heal their children. So many of those stories end with children whose healing did not take place on this earth and still the parents' faith persists, often stronger than ever. It is a story with which I am intimately familiar. I've lived it, I clung to my faith and my baby Wyatt with every bit of strength that I had and it took me a long time to let go. It was so painful when that healing, that miracle, was not granted with no explanation. It opened the door to more questions without answers and comparisons/judgments that were not for me to make. My path diverged from the faithful and it took me a long time to find my way back.

So, I find myself wondering from the perspective of those whose faith sustained them through the loss of their children - what if it happened to you again? What if you were to lose another child for the same reason you lost the first and no one could tell you why you lost either child? Would you be able to take comfort in the same beliefs that brought you comfort the first time? Would you believe that your child would be healed a second time after having watched your first child past from this earth? Do you, who have not walked this path, look at me as less than faithful because I don't believe that my baby will be healed by God during his or her lifetime? Very hard questions with answers truly beyond our grasp, such a personal situation.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Birthdays Never Seemed So Sad

Birthdays are weighing on me this week. You might think I am referring to the birth of this baby in a little over two weeks, but alas, baby's birth is just one of many in the coming weeks. Seriously.

My husband's birthday is this weekend and I absolutely hate to admit I have no gift for him, my head is so unfocused and he really wants for nothing. It's unfortunate that as a woman I don't have the no-fail gifts of jewelry or flowers that men do...I still have a few days to pull something out of the hat. My middle daughter's birthday is next weekend. She blessedly, has a gift already, purchased at Christmastime with the knowledge she is going to go head over heels for this present so I am really excited about that. The day after her birthday is my father-in-law's birthday and the day after that is my nephew's birthday. Then just a few days later our baby's birthday.

I sometimes cannot believe how births have occurred in our family. My oldest daughter was born just one year and four days after Wyatt's birth. One year to the day after we buried our firstborn. I have found comfort in her birthday over the years knowing that one of the saddest days of my life was shared with one of the happiest. Wyatt's due date was just 2 days before my birthday but due to his potter's we delivered about three weeks early. We didn't plan for my husband and middle daughter's birthdays to be exactly one week apart with my father-in-law's the day after, although it makes for alot of cake and ice cream in a short period of time. Now, we will add another. A birthday that should have been weeks later.

It is our family tradition that for each birthday I bake a homemade cake of the birthday person's choosing down to the flavor and color of icing if they choose. Which means I always bake three different cakes in less than 2 weeks every year at this time. For Wyatt, I bake cupcakes and we share them with a picnic lunch at his gravesite each year. One is always left behind for him. Leading up to that birthday each year anxiety and dread overtake me. It is not until I wake the morning after his birthday that I feel unburdened and able to look beyond "that day". It makes my daughter's birthday four days later so much happier for me. February and March will not be so kind. Each year will require smiles, beautiful, or at least satisfactory, cakes and suppression of anxiety, sadness and heartbreak that will surely be present before this baby's birthday. The opposite of the rainbow after the storm.

My middle daughter asked if we would be having cupcakes for baby's birthday this year. It was the PERFECT idea so I have decided that we will celebrate baby's birth day in a most celebratory way, with cake.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

In Search of Beauty

Amidst the words death, funeral, autopsy

I am searching for beauty. February is melting into March and I am seeking beauty. Dirty white snowbanks conceal the green grass and flower blooms that spring will soon offer. My hands ache to be covered in soil, which with the addition of seeds, water and sunshine will burst forth with tiny green seedlings which in time will grow small buds that will unfold into delicate and colorful flowers which delight the eye and perfume the air.

Not incredibly different from bringing a child into this world. Every child begins like a seed. With time and nourishment it grows and thrives until at last he or she bursts forth into this world and brings color to our lives. Some of these children grow and bloom and change. We will see them bloom again and again, each time more beautiful than the time before. Some will remain forever budded, only blooming in our imaginations.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Hope & Miracles

I've spoken of miracles before. Today, I'd like to share a small miracle that I carry inside of me. Our precious baby-to-be. A baby whose continued survival is miraculous to me. Every time I feel his or her hands and feet moving inside of me, I am reminded of how amazing it is to still be pregnant. A baby with this condition has no guarantees. Fifteen weeks ago I was reminded that I could go into labor at any time and that there is a very real chance the baby will not survive to its birth.

My body is a miracle. Our first child, born almost eight years ago with Potter's Syndrome, survived thirty-seven weeks in my womb without fluid which would develop his lungs and yet he was born crying. My body staved off labor so that our precious son, who was literally stuck sideways in my stomach, could be delivered via c-section alive and breathing. That day we were not granted the miracle we had prayed for, but the sound of his voice was just one of the small miracles we experienced. This same body has birthed three precious little girls, all born without complications and amazingly without any signs of labor. Four c-sections and counting, it has not let me down. And now this little one, thirty-four weeks and counting, little to no amniotic fluid and a rapidly expanding baby.

The combination of this baby's will to live and my body's efforts to give it life are utterly amazing to me. Miracles.

I've also spoken of hope. Oddly enough, as I prepare to greet this little one into the world and let him or her join big brother in the next, I have hope. Three hopes, to be precise. Our three beautiful daughters. Had my husband and I succumbed to the fear and despair I felt after Wyatt's death they would not be here. Facing death the first time I did not have this hope. I had nothing to tell me one day I would breathe again, that my heart would find a way to beat. Facing death the second time I do have hope. I have seen what hope and faith can do and what living without them is like. My daughters give me hope, because it is out of hope they were conceived.

Two Unexpected Gifts

Last week I received two unexpected gifts. One from a family member and one from someone I have only met once. The one time that I met her was to share the story of our precious Wyatt. She not only remembered us, but after hearing about this baby's fate, she was moved enough to send a card for comfort. I guess it was someone's (not of this earth) way of letting me know that I am not alone and that there are people out there who care. These small acts of kindness meant the world to me and could not have been timelier. For that I am very grateful.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My Visit to the Dentist & Silence

I had a cleaning appt on Valentine's Day. A dental cleaning is never particularly enticing to me, but this one, after enduring the girls' appointment a few weeks ago, was anxiety producing for me. My husband shares a hygienist with our middle child, one who was unknowingly scathing with her comments about how small my belly was, so I asked him to mention that the baby was not expected to live. I just felt so guilty for not saying anything. He did one better than that with the intention of sparing me hours of crying. He called ahead to the office and mentioned that I was coming in and that things were not looking good with our pregnancy. Not one person said anything pregnancy, baby or anything remotely related to me. They were extraordinarily cheery and nice.

And of course, for me at least, awkward. I guess it'll never be satisfying enough, I may never get what I want or need out of this experience (from a social perspective). I don't relish having to tell people my baby is going to die, but I also don't like suffering in silence. My hairdresser knows about this baby. My mother-in-law also goes to her and told her about the baby 2-3 months ago. The hairdresser was so excited about our pregnancy when I first broke the news and since she found out she's only mentioned the baby once briefly. My hygienist said nothing, didn't even acknowledge my pregnancy (which was not visible last time I saw her). My husband's co-workers say nothing to me about it. The silence is so painful for me. I am clearly pregnant and I don't get to talk about it at all. I don't get asked how I'm feeling, how the pregnancy is going, I don't even get an "I'm thinking of you", "I'm sorry", or "I don't know what to say". I know people don't know what to say and don't want to hurt me, but at the same time I wish there was a way to let them know that not doing or saying anything is so awful. I need support, I need encouragement, I need to know that people care. I'm just not getting it. As I've mentioned before, this extends into my own family.

I've been devouring anything I can find online from anyone who has lost a child and information on what to do when you are losing or have lost a child. There are so many stories and articles that let people know what is helpful and what is not helpful when dealing with bereaved parents. However, I wonder if the only ones reading that information are the bereaved themselves. I want to find a way to disseminate this advice to a wider populace. I read something that said no matter how hard it is for you, as the non-bereaved, to find something to say to a bereaved individual, that you should keep in mind how hard it is to live through the death of a child and make the effort. Words cannot remind me of a loss so great, but silence will add to my pain.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day Little One

Happy Valentine's Day to my precious little baby. The reason I can barely put my own shoes on anymore. I know I will miss feeling your solid little body every time I bend over, but I will also welcome the sight of my own feet again. I hope you will enjoy the chocolate that I am consuming and will continue to consume throughout the day, it's mostly for me but I have never denied any of my baby's the exquisite pleasure of tasting chocolate. You may not be surrounded by amniotic fluid, but you are surrounded by warm, encompassing love today. The love of your father and I and the love of your siblings, whose hot and cold little hands have taken a real liking to you as of late. Especially the youngest who insists that my shirt be "opened" so that she can properly feel you. I enjoy being able to place their small hands on your tiny head almost as much as I enjoy caressing that little head myself. Grow strong in our love, little one, and be prepared for lots and lots of valentine kisses when we meet you.

Gathered the Courage to Call the Funeral Home

Today, for whatever reason, I found the courage to do what I have been postponing for some time. I called the funeral home and set up an appointment to meet with someone to arrange our baby's funeral. I had hoped my husband would do so and asked him, but he has been avoiding the call as well, I'm sure for the same reasons I have. It's all so final. I have made so many of these calls in the last week. I have notified my Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep photographer of our c-section date and time, notified the genetic counselor we met with that we have decided to pursue an autopsy of this little one (we chose not to with Wyatt and I struggled with the decision here) in the hopes of discovering additional information hidden to the human eye that might tell us why two of our children have been so afflicted, and now I made the call to the funeral home. There are so few things left to do. I even packed my hospital bag today. The casket is almost ready, I sewed a lace and satin pillow this weekend and my husband affixed the cross to the top. We still plan to find a way for our daughters to put some sibling flair on it for baby but haven't quite figured that one out yet. It has always been a waiting game, but now almost all of the work is done and the real waiting, in terms of days, no longer months, begins.

Having already buried one child and subsequently brought three healthy little girls home from the hospital, it dawned on me that losing a child is alot more complicated than raising a child. When you give birth to a child that will live, you don't need to have clothes or diapers or frankly really anything for the baby on hand. The hospital has gowns, blankets, diapers, wipes and everything else you will need right away. When you give birth to a child that will not live or not live long it is so important to have everything at your fingertips: a special outfit, blanket, booties, lotion, handprint/footprint molds, baby book, camera, video camera, etc. You only get one chance to do everything that you want to do with your baby. Moments, minutes, hours to capture all of the sounds, scents, touches and snuggles that will need to endure for a lifetime. All of this careful and deliberate planning fits into one carry-on sized bag. I know this because I have now packed that bag for a second time.

Friday, February 11, 2011

I Don't Want to Forget

I realized today that part of my reason for blogging this is so that I don't forget. It's what I don't forget that I hadn't completely sorted out prior to today. I wanted to document the pain, the difficulty, the ordinarily mundane things that become completely overwhelming when facing the death of your child. What I forgot that I didn't want to forget is really what this is all about. It's about me. The me that I am right now.

This me is a different me than I was eight years ago before losing Wyatt. This me is a different me than I was three months ago before finding out about this little one's Potter's Syndrome. She doesn't have a name, just a voice. This is my chance to capture what photographs can't before she is gone again. Because I anticipate that this me will no longer exist in four weeks.

Today I am strong. I am competent. I am a mother. The sun shines brightly outside, the air is warm and the winds blow change into our lives. A warm air that we have not felt for some time, the promise of spring and of new life.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Envious of My Husband

After Wyatt's birth, we basked in the joy of becoming new parents and the wonders of our newborn son. I remember those feelings during my hospital stay. I was sad, but strangely peaceful about our son's brief life. I was thankful to have been given the opportunity to carry him and meet him and send him to the next place. Those feelings for me were very short-lived. As I've mentioned before, anger perhaps better categorized as rage took over.

But my husband somehow stayed in that beautiful state. Anger and sadness did not overwhelm him. There was no place for anger and sadness in the memories of his firstborn child. Eight years later I can say that they have never had a place for him. I wonder sometimes if the sadness he experienced wasn't more for me than for himself or our son. Sadness at watching my suffering and being unable to lift that burden off my shoulders.

Along the lines of yesterday's post, I aspire to be better and to do better this time. I have no one to be angry or bitter with and this time it will not just be my husband enduring my awful attitude, my children will suffer too. I think the death of their sibling will be suffering enough. I know grief is unpredictable and that it is best to let it be what it is. I will attempt to do that within reason. However, I also have the benefit of hindsight and I know with 100% certainty that I do not want to go back to "that place" and I do not want to be "that person" again. I must be better, I must do better and I can only hope that recognizing this ahead of time will be to my benefit, not my detriment. And hopefully that by doing so, I will make the world around me a little better too.

The thing that really kicks me about my husband sometimes is that he is not religious, not even a little bit. So, he hasn't found this internal peace by reading the Bible, or attending church services or being counseled by a religious figure. Religion, while it can be a wonderful thing, can also make one feel like a huge failure sometimes. He lives his life free from the burdens of what he should be like, yet, he is truly one of the most good people I have ever met. What I take away from him is that no one can make you the person you want to be, either good or bad. Faith, hope and love are wonderful things, but they must come from within. My husband has probably never heard or read this phrase, but in my eyes, this sums his grief for our children up completely. It is from 2 Samuel 12:23 I believe: "I will go to him, but he will not return to me."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Spirit Renewed

As is probably obvious by last week's posts, there were many dark days. My head had sunk into oblivion and the waves of self-pity were tossing me to and fro. Somehow the weekend, one blissfully ordinary, lifted my spirits. I began to see the sun shining instead of the oppressive clouds hanging just overhead. Last week it was far too easy to focus on my own pain. To angrily lay blame on those that have done little or nothing for me. While I still believe these are valid complaints. I read other accounts from parents who have walked this path (expecting a baby that will not survive) who have received outpourings of support from family, friends and coworkers. I can say that I have not felt that outpouring. There were initial expressions of sympathy and offers of assistance, but no one has really "pushed the issue". I still cook all of our meals, grocery shop, wash all of our clothes, clean the house, help shovel the walk and care for my three children day in and day out. In all fairness, I'm sure if I asked someone to help, they would, but asking for help is not exactly my strong suit and never has been. I was miffed that it seems no one even cares enough to call and ask how we're doing or even send an email. Self-pity is such an easy emotion.

That was last week. This week my eyes are more open and less red, or smudgy black as it may be. My heart feels lighter. I feel more competent. My body feels better. Getting on the treadmill is easier, my legs even seem to move faster. And yesterday I received some wonderful news at the OB. I grew 4cm in 3 weeks which is I think awesome for any pregnancy, but especially one in which there is no amniotic fluid! I am still measuring at only 28cm and I am 32 weeks but this one little thing filled me with so much hope and strength. I also got confirmation that I appear to be right about baby's position - head is on my upper right stomach and feet curl down to the left so baby is breech, not that it matters since we will have a c-section anyway.

I also finished reading my latest library book, "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho. It touched and inspired me, to be better than I am. It is a simply written book in parable style about a boy's search for treasure. It spoke to me about change and faith and love. The thing that sticks with me most is this quote, "When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person realize his dream." Often I allow myself lose sight of my dreams and desires, I become burdened by the material or unnecessary. I forget to begin each day anew as an opportunity to be better than the day before. I forget what is really important in life and that when I strive to be better, the world around me will be better too.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

No One to Blame

I've been thinking about others' perceptions of our situation, carrying a second child with a fatal diagnosis. How some may see this as irresponsible on our part, having subsequent children knowing of our susceptibility to Potter's Syndrome. It is something I have pondered since discovering this baby's condition because it is difficult to acknowledge this baby without acknowledging the loss of our first for the same reason.

We were told that Wyatt's Potter's Syndrome was a fluke, extremely unlikely to reoccur. We proceeded with medical caution, we had three ultrasounds while pregnant with Wyatt which documented any possible anomalies and then after his birth we had his cord blood tested for any chromosomal problems. His chromosomes came back completely normal and physically he had no other notable anomalies outside of typical Potter's Syndrome characteristics. There is no genetic test which can be administered to check and see if we are carriers of something which would be causing the bilateral renal agenesis and most cases are truly flukes. It is not even known the specific genetic etiology that causes this baby's condition, whether it is strictly genetic, environmental or a combination.

The odds of this happening to us again were estimated to be 3%. Let me break down what odds of 3% look like. Both men and women have a lifetime risk of about 5% of developing colon and rectum cancer. Women have a lifetime risk of 12% of developing breast cancer and men a 7% risk of developing prostate cancer. Men and women have over a 6% risk of developing lung or bronchial cancer. The average odds of a baby being born with any birth defect is 3 or 4 out of 100, or 3-4%. The risks of a woman having a miscarriage in her 20s is 10% and in her later 30s jumps to 20%. Men have a lifetime risk of about 3% of dying in an accident and a woman's risk is 2%.

Probably the most important thing to remember though is that our risk of not having Potter's Syndrome reoccur was 97%. To me, that was huge. Now of course, that is all up in the air and likely never to be resolved. Five children, two with Potter's Syndrome, no answers. I would give almost anything to be back at that 3% recurrence risk.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Born Under the Shadow of Grief

I believe that we are all born, and raised, under the shadow of something. Something that has shaped our parents' lives and is thrust upon us unwillingly. My children's shadow is grief. Each and every one. Our first child died less than three hours after he was born. Each child was subsequently born under that shadow of grief. No matter how great our joy was on the days of their birth, there was a shadow hanging over us. Their big brother was not there. I have never been a non-bereaved parent. I have never known the pure joy of holding my own newborn. I cannot unforget what it is like to watch my own child die in my arms, the sound of a heartbeat slowing to a stop. My children will never know me as that parent and I will never know what I could have been.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Don't you think?

A few days ago my mom sent me an email due to a talk show she'd been watching on tv. The guest was a medical doctor who allegedly has miraculous healing powers. He travels the country and has healing sessions, for a fee of course, and also maintains a medical office of his own. He proclaims to channel God's healing powers. She wanted me to check him out and ended her email by saying that in God all things are possible.

While I realize all of the good intentions that this email came with, it tore at my heart. I don't have an unexplained illness or even a medical condition which has the possibility of being misdiagnosed. My health is better than ever. There is no number of doctors, no amount of prayer, no sum of money that can save our baby. The baby is missing organs. Organs which are vital to life outside the womb. Even if man or God could give my baby kidneys today and fill my uterus with precious amniotic fluid, it would be too late. The kidneys and amniotic fluid needed to be in place long ago to develop baby's lungs. It is the underdeveloped lungs, not the lack of kidneys, which will ultimate cause our baby's death. I know there are no kidneys and amniotic fluid. I can feel it. I can feel the outline of baby's body. I can see the diminished size of my belly.

If prayer and faith could produce kidneys, Wyatt would not have died. I guess maybe all things are possible in God, in this case it is possible that God will look down from heaving on March 11th, five weeks from today, and will watch our child enter this world and then quietly slip out of it shortly thereafter. In fact, I'm confident that God will be waiting to take our child into his arms on that day.

My mom, and anyone else for that matter, are certainly entitled to pray for a miracle in our case. I don't think my faith is any less strong for not praying for one. My prayers are different. I have talked to doctors, I have seen inside my own body and inside my baby's, I have read medical journals and articles and I know there is nothing that can be done. Don't you think if there was, I would have done it?

God, That Hurt

Yesterday I had to take all 3 of my girls to the dentist. It was awful. As I've mentioned, I've been able to disguise my pregnancy well enough due to heavy winter clothing which has spared me the public's questions.

Until yesterday. Three different hygienists, receptionists, and the dentist. All making comments about how small I was and how I didn't look like I could be having a c-section in March. There were also alot of excited questions about gender and names and such, alot of jokes about girls since I had 3 in tow. While I wasn't completely blindsided, I was overwhelmed and just didn't know what to say. The comments about my size hit especially hard. I wanted to scream that I was small because I didn't have amniotic fluid and that my baby was going to die. Instead, I probably turned 20 shades of pale and put on the best smile I could muster and just shrugged my shoulders or said that we didn't know the gender and told them the date of the c-section. I didn't tell one person the truth. The real kicker was that the dentist was pregnant and due at the end of April and as any excited expecting mom she went on and on and on about doctors, names, gender, size, was beyond heartwrenching. I just couldn't bring myself to explain it to that many people that many times.

It was a sucker punch I never could have seen coming, especially the dentist's pregnancy, what a cruel twist of fate. Here she was, in my face, smiling and asking me questions which she had no reason not to ask. She was a perfect vision of what I should be like - excited, anticipatory, full of life and joy. Instead I am shrouded in death and sadness. I can barely bring myself to smile, forget excitement. I can only imagine what all these women thought about my reactions in retrospect, how unenthusiastic and short my responses were.

I cried all the way home, I cried when I got home and I cried last night and well, I'm crying again now.

I go to get my teeth cleaned on Valentine's Day and I have resolved to tell at least my hygienist about the baby, I hope I can do it.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Grilled Cheese That Wasn't

A grilled cheese. The other day my husband came home for lunch earlier than I anticipated. He began grilling everyone's cheese sandwiches as I set the table. I sat down to eat my sandwich and because I was ravished I had eaten over half the sandwich before I realized that there was no cheese inside! Luckily I enough bread left to insert a slice of cheese and grill it to its melting point. Lesson: Take time to inspect for melted cheese as well as smell the roses. Grilled bread is no substitute.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Stressing about Dentist Visits

You might ask yourself, what does a visit to the dentist have to do with this blog? Nothing and everything would be the answer. Tomorrow I am taking all three girls for the first time together to the dentist (I have been taking the older two for some time now but it's the littlest's first cleaning!). Aside from the fact that it's the middle of winter and taking all three kids anywhere at the same time, especially when we need to be there by a specific time, is stressful, there is another source of stress for me. One that makes my stomach do flip flops in anticipation.

I have not been to the dentist since this pregnancy has been obvious. I am nervous about answering questions regarding the pregnancy and how I will respond. My husband and I also frequent this dentist office so the staff knows us pretty well. So, I have a few options. One, I can keep my jacket closed (which by some miracle I can still wear my normal winter jacket which is slimming black) and hope no one notices my enlarged profile. Two, I can unbutton my jacket and take any questions if/when they come. Then my dilemma is how to answer those questions. Do I paste on a smile and say we don't know the baby's gender and that baby will arrive in March and leave it at that knowing that in six months I will see these same people and they will remember the belly and ask how my baby is doing? Do I tell them as gently as possible that we do not know the gender of the baby but that we do not anticipate the baby will survive? There is no good option, eventually I will have to answer at least one question which will put out there that our baby either will die or has died. Oh, and my next cleaning, on Valentine's Day - ugh!

It is one of the things that made my sickest when we first learned of this baby's potter's syndrome. Dealing with all of those well meaning questions. Oddly enough, not one person, no strangers or acquaintances, who did not know about our situation, ask me about this baby/pregnancy. I suppose me not leaving the house all that often and since it's winter wearing my "slimming" black jacket zippered up tightly helps.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Three Months Ago

Three months ago I was expecting to bring our fourth child home this spring. We had purchased a new car seat, left up the baby crib and gotten our daughters all excited about the impending sibling's arrival. We made jokes about having four kids and how our lives would change with the addition of another. Secretly, I hoped for a little boy to break up the estrogen-fest in our household and I dreamed of his three big sisters doting all over him. I contemplated how I would get our oldest to the bus every morning with three others in tow. We debated whether to find out the baby's gender, I wanted a surprise and my husband preferred to know. The sticky part was if we did happen to have a boy, with three girls, most of our clothes were of the pink and very girlie variety. It never, and I really mean never, occurred to me that we would not bring this baby home.

In just three months, truthfully, probably in about three minutes, I've completely adjusted to the reality that I will not bring this child home. There is no longer a crib set up in our house, after completing our youngest's potty training we have now packed away diapering supplies. I have eradicated all that is baby in our household and I'm thirty-one weeks pregnant. As I pack these things away anxiety eats at me. Not only am I waiting another five weeks to meet this little one, but I am waiting five weeks to find out my reproductive fate. I can only imagine how this sounds to others, that I am concerned about having another baby when I have yet to hatch this one. But in my heart I know my family is not yet complete and I do not anticipate that this baby's birth will change that feeling. However, with five c-sections this very well may be the last and then I will be forced to purge the house of all that is baby following the loss of my last child. I have never been in that position. After having Wyatt we knew we could have another and in my heart I knew that we would. This place is a very scary one, so many unknowns and finalities lingering in the air.


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