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

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I Will Try to Bear My Scars on the Outside

This may seem like a really odd thing to say so let me explain. Yesterday I left the house without my husband for the first time since Eli's birth. I haven't left the house many times but the mere thought of it brings tears to my eyes and my husband has graciously accompanied me on our few outings. Yesterday I had some errands that needed running during my husband's work day so I had no choice.

I sat at a red light with dried tears on my cheeks and looked at other drivers. I wondered as I have so many times before if the sadness in my heart was visible on my face. If others could sense even the tiniest bit of the pain that I carried. Then I wondered what their pains were. I am not naive enough to believe that I am the only one suffering. Most of us hide our pain inside until it scars over. We conceal those scars. Probably out of fear. Fear of reliving that pain, reopening the wound, fear of being perceived as weak, fear of loss.

What if we didn't? What if one glance revealed the suffering inside? What then? Would we be more compassionate towards each other or at least more empathetic? Would we exploit that pain for our own gain? Would we feel relief at being able to share our deepest wounds with others or would we feel shame, weakness or embarrassment? I think in a way it would just be too much to bear. Yet I still wonder.

So I will try to bear my scars on the outside. In the hopes that by not burying them, by not using them to protect my fragile heart, that my heart will grow. That I can be more compassionate, more sensitive to the pain of others. More willing to respond. Not only to respond but to respond with only love, not judgment.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My Girls and their Brothers

You never truly get a chance to walk the same path twice in life. Yes, we have lost two children, both boys, both carried to full term, both diagnosed with Potter's Syndrome bilateral renal agenesis at 19-20 weeks in utero, both born alive, both died within three hours. Between those lost little boys are three very alive little girls. Little girls who have been told, since birth, about their big brother Wyatt. Girls who visit his grave throughout the year and recognize the cemetery where he is buried from the interstate. Girls who are excited for his birthday each year because it means they get to bake, decorate and eat cupcakes at his grave and then release balloons to heaven. Girls who, a little over two weeks ago, said hello and goodbye on the same day to their newest baby brother Eli. Those girls are where our path has diverged. They were not there, not even contemplated as we walked down Wyatt's path. And so we began another path with Eli, a familiar path but not the same. There are five of us walking this path, not two.

My husband and I have dealt with this loss, this grief before. Our children have not. The oldest and youngest have taken it all in stride. My two year old sees me crying and merely asks, "Are you crying again?" or "Are you sad about baby Eli?" I'm not sure the six year old even notices it. She's all business, planning for me to have twins next and for one to be a boy to replace Eli. That stings. Many times I've had to explain how no baby could replace Eli and how she did not replace Wyatt, each one is so special and loved. It's our five year old that tugs at my heartstrings. The one that couldn't have held Eli enough, the one whose hands are in so many of our pictures of Eli, stroking his little face and body. The one who took the most pictures of him the day he was born. The one who sat with me at the funeral home and cried over her baby brother. The one who stayed behind at the gravesite holding my hand and sobbing along with me while my husband and other daughters tromped back to the car. The one who snuggled in bed with my husband and I while I cried one night and told me that when I cry she feels like crying too. The one who has asked me over and over why we can't unbury baby Eli and bring him home. If only it were so simple.

Since November I've hurt for my girls, anticipating how the grief, how they would handle Eli's birth and death. How they would carry their brothers' memories. I've read literature on children and grief but nothing can prepare you for a child looking you straight in the eyes and asking why you can't just unbury her brother and bring him home. Nothing can prepare you for how to answer your children when they ask if we will bring "the next baby" home or whether they will have another brother. Just as I did after Wyatt, I find myself putting all my eggs into one basket and this time I only have one basket left. This time it's not just for me to heal or to find good and beauty in the world again. This time it's about putting beauty back into my children's world. It's not about filling my arms because my arms are full. I've been very blessed to have held five newborns that I can call mine in my arms and to have held two to the end of their lives. This time my arms don't ache, just my heart and it doesn't just ache for me.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Walking Away the Pain

After Wyatt died I was lost. I took four weeks maternity leave at the recommendation of my doctor. At the time, my husband and I had just completed college plus grad school and were only one year into our new careers. We lived in a two bedroom apartment. I spent the last three weeks of my leave alone in that apartment day after day. Afraid to leave, afraid not to leave. I lived in my sweatpants and "fat clothes", my maternity clothes packed away before I returned home from the hospital. After hearing my mom regale stories of how she left the hospital after I was born, her first, in her pre-maternity jeans, I was prepared to slip back into my old clothes, my old life. I acutely remember the shock and horror upon returning home and selecting the outfit I would wear to Wyatt's funeral only to discover that not one thing fit me. I collapsed into tears and my husband went shopping. He returned home with a few dresses a size or two bigger than my normal. I selected the turquoise dress with bright red poppy flowers, my funeral dress. One year and a few days later it became our daughter's baptism dress.

Less than a month after Wyatt's birth we moved into our first house, I returned to work and I embarked on a mission to lose weight - fast. I began parking on the top level of the parking garage at work and taking the stairs up and down. I cut calories. I did sit-ups and worked out on our stepper. Less than four months later when I got pregnant with our first daughter I had lost all but about two pounds of the thirty-four I had gained during Wyatt's pregnancy. I had succeeded in losing all traces of being pregnant and was able to embark on that new pregnancy with my sense of hope and my body intact.

This post about loss and alcohol at Glow in the Woods hit home. I asked my husband prior to Eli's birth if it would be kosher to bring alcohol to the hospital and was only half joking. I then planned on having a glass or two of wine after returning home. I have been thinking about that glass or two ever since. There is one bottle in the kitchen. The one bottle we did not drink before I got pregnant with Eli. I dusted it once during the pregnancy. I know it's there without having to look. I have never had a problem with alcohol. My husband and I can split a bottle of wine. I get fuzzy after just one beer and often don't even finish the one. Nonetheless, I'm scared. Scared that once that bottle opens it won't close until my pain is drowned and that is something I just cannot chance.

So I've turned to an old friend, my second best friend actually - my treadmill. My treadmill bears my weight, the physical weight of my pregnancies and the emotional weight of my losses. It bears my tears with silence. It forces me to move, even when my legs feel like lead. I exercised throughout my pregnancy with Eli, even used the elliptical the day before he was born. But c-sections are frustrating. I am able to exercise, lift weights, elliptical, treadmill, yoga, etc, throughout the entire pregnancy and then boom, nothing but walking for at least four weeks after baby is born. And all I want to do is jump on and run. Run from the pain, run through the pain. Sweat. Right now all I can do is walk. And walk I do, I'm up to about two miles a day already and it feels so good. It is probably the only time of my day when I am focused. I focus on healing and it feels like each mile is a step closer to where I want to be.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Yet Another Thing I Thought I'd Never Say

We got our son's autopsy results today. I am so very thankful I was not alone at that appointment. Eli's chromosomes were 100% normal, just like Wyatt's. Eli was missing both kidneys and his bladder but other than that was completely NORMAL. While we did not have an autopsy for Wyatt that is exactly his diagnosis via multiple ultrasounds. So, we have answers and yet we don't have the most important answers. Why did this happen to us twice? Why both of our sons? As I've always feared, I don't believe we will ever have these answers. Lucky for me, I cannot recall the last time I let fear keep me from pursuing my passion. Lucky for us, my husband is as steely as I am. We still have a few lines in the water as we have not heard from the geneticist yet and it sounds like she may have pursued additional testing which may/may not yield some answers. I won't be holding my breath.

You Know that Saying, God Doesn't Give You More Than You Can Handle?

I don't believe it right now. Our oldest daughter woke up on Wednesday, a day when the school system had already cancelled school because of earlier day's enormous snowfall, with a fever of 106. Yes, 106. Terrifying in itself combined with her lethargy, crying and complaints of stomach and head pain. My husband took off work to take her to the clinic and since she showed no outward signs of infection she had the complete workup, blood, urine, etc., while she vomited in between. I'm so glad I didn't have to be there for that but at the same time waiting at home those long hours was extremely stressful. We were told that her white blood count was high and that she was likely fighting an infection, possibly blood or urinary tract.

Yesterday her temp continued to spike to 105-106 in between doses of pain relievers which didn't even always reduce the fever. Her little body convulsed in severe cases of shivers. She screamed in pain when I put her into a lukewarm bath to cool her off. I cannot accurately describe what I felt yesterday. Mostly I tried not to feel. It was almost too much to bear. My breasts began leaking milk when I comforted her. Lovely reminder of the child I lost less than two weeks ago. My anxiety and grief only heightened by the extreme fear for my daughter's health not knowing exactly what was wrong with her or how to help her.

We found out today that she has a urinary tract infection. Simple, right? Take a course of antibiotics and boom, all done. Not so simple for us. This same child had a UTI when she was two, a very uncommon bacteria, which set off a round of testing, invasive testing, which uncovered the presence of VUR (vesicouretal urinary reflux) and resulted in two outpatient surgeries to correct and many subsequent visits to determine it was resolved. Now, that wound, almost five years in our past, has been reopened. We are now to follow up with the specialist who treated her and I am not quite sure what he will want to do.

The VUR that I believed, like Potter's, that I had paid my dues for. That I had somehow outrun and left behind. I pray that it is still gone. I pray that despite a 33-34% chance of our other daughters having the same condition that we don't have to take that path with them. No sedatives, no dyes, no begging for them to urinate in front of a bunch of people as they cry and beg to just be left alone. No surgeries and watching a tiny little girl be rolled away on a big bed and put to sleep and then left alone in a room with a bunch of strangers. No more. No more, no more suffering for my family.

Today is my two week followup after Eli's birth and I'm already scared. I don't believe I've mentioned the complications. Not for me, but for our journey towards answers. Because after Eli was born we experienced one of the worst blizzards of the year which brought traffic literally to a standstill, some of Eli's samples were unable to be sent out for testing and as of now we don't know whether we'll get any results outside of autopsy results. I've not heard any results yet and I'm really scared.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Almost Like a Dream

Before Eli was born I purchased a frame for his picture which says "When you fell into my arms Little Angel you slipped into my heart." There was no way I could have known how fitting it would be. Here I sit, ten days after the birth of precious Eli, and yet it is so familiar. My oldest daughter is at school, the younger two perched on the couch watching Dinosaur Train, me logged onto the laptop. It is a morning I have lived and re-lived almost since we conceived Eli, like slipping into a favorite pair of pajamas. I miss feeling him wriggle in my belly, I miss trying to fit the laptop on my lap. I told my husband I just can't win. When I came home from the hospital all I wanted was a smaller stomach and unengorged breasts. As they've both shrunk I've sobbed over the loss of those connections to my son, my reminders of his brief presence.

Our house smells and looks like a florist shop. There are beautiful flowers everywhere and it is impossible to enter our living room without smelling the sweet scents of orchids, lilies, roses and carnations. Soon, they too will die. However, we will keep them with us.
After Wyatt's funeral, we carefully dried the petals from his flowers and then layered them in beautiful covered glass globes which sit on our fireplace mantle. Scattered throughout our rooms are pictures of Eli. Piled in my bedroom are plastic storage bags with his blankets, outfits and lamb sealed inside to preserve his sweet smell. That is all we have, flowers, blankets, outfits and pictures. It's just not enough, but will have to do. Now we begin rebuilding our lives and finding a new normal. We will begin the process of finding out who we have become in the wake of such loss. It is too early for answers, the girl that I glimpse in the mirror is not quite me but not quite not me either, I don't know her yet.

An Ode to My Husband, of Sorts

Throughout all of this I have been fairly silent about my husband. For one very important reason. Words simply cannot describe the respect, admiration and love that I have for him. The strength and support which he has given me cannot be summed up in letters, sentences, paragraphs or novels. He has silently absorbed so much of my pain and channeled it into productivity within our house. He's bathed and showered our girls for much of my pregnancy and towards the end he took on dishwashing, cooking and cleaning duties as well. Since my surgery he has continued, allowing me to just sit and be whatever I need to be in the moment. He has done whatever I need, whatever I want, with no questions, no complaints, no hesitation. He has hugged me, wiped my tears and almost literally carried me through the long days and nights since letting go of my youngest son. When both of our sons were born, he gently handed me each precious baby and allowed me not to let go. Most of the pictures we have are of me snuggling our sons, kissing them, whispering to them words of love.

A particularly precious gift my husband gave me after Eli's birth, I received after returning home from the hospital. I believe what my husband witnessed is a small miracle sent from heaven. We have solar lights in a ring around the willow tree garden at the top of my blog. Snow has covered the garden and lights for most of the winter. My husband says he has taken to glancing out the window at Wyatt's garden each night before bed. Before we went to the hospital for Eli's birth he had been seeing one light each night. The night we came home from the hospital after Eli's birth when he looked out the window there were two lights lit in the garden. One for each of our precious sons, now together.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Aftermath of Eli

Unfair is a word that completely understates the experience of losing a child. There is the empty arms, the quiet house, the milk filled breasts, the complete absence of anything baby, the darkened scar and bruises on my body, the distended stomach, swollen eyes and the sense that life has gone on without you. You just don't know when and if you'll be able to rejoin it. The nights have been the hardest. I spent a little over 48 hours in the hospital after my c-section. It was just too difficult, too quiet, too lonely. With Wyatt it was all new, I had no expectations, no memories. With Eli I was haunted by memories of my delivery and stay with Wyatt and then the enormous relief and joy and happy happy hospital stays with each of our girls. Those hospital stays were some of my happiest memories, just me, my husband and a precious little life that we had created. Life could not be more perfect than it was in those moments. And it was those moments that hurt the most. Waking in the middle of the night to an empty hospital room with only the sounds of my husband's breath to keep me company. When the girls were born I would sleep with them snuggled in the crook of my arm at night. We would cuddle and nurse and watch TV. This time my husband had to fill that void until I had calmed down enough to sleep again. I was really unprepared for that. My one comfort in those moments was that I requested the same hospital room that we spent time with our sweet Wyatt so I knew that those other moments did not happen here. I was in a sacred place that held different memories, memories that blended with those I had created in the previous hours and that they somehow belonged together.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Another Funeral

We said our final goodbyes to sweet Eli yesterday. It was the same funeral home but so different. A different year, different month, different season and different child. Same family. Everyone was wonderful. There were so many "I'm sorries" left hanging so perfectly. Just when one thinks that her heart cannot break any further, it does. Our middle daughter wanted to hold her baby brother again and again. It was as if she could not bear to let him go. Watching her sob so hard in her beautiful pink princess dress was very difficult. Holding her little body and drying her tears was gave me more comfort than I understand. It was a very special time. Wyatt is buried between the future graves of my husband and myself. Eli is buried at his feet.

I have these song lyrics by O.A.R. running through my head, "How many times can I break 'til I shatter?"

Today our oldest returned to school. She was so excited to share Eli and his pictures with her classmates. It gave me so much joy to help her select pictures to share and see the excitement and pride she takes in her little brother. She said it went very well and her teacher even emailed me to tell me how wonderfully she did sharing Eli and his pictures and answering her classmates' questions. She told me she even shared Wyatt today. What a brave little girl. Today my heart swells with pride for all of our children.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Eli James

Eli James was born alive and crying at 9:29am Friday morning. We estimate he lived around an hour. He was our smallest baby yet at 5lb 3oz and just the sweetest little thing. We even saw him sucking his thumb briefly. Our girls got to love and snuggle him throughout the day.

Eli entered my life in a very forceful way but lived his brief brief life so much the opposite. I now realize that his life within me mirrored his life outside. He was unassuming, unintrusive, such a gentle soul. Our gift to Eli was a soft fuzzy white lamb. His gift to us was gentleness. Inside me I mistook his gentle movements as a lack of strength. Even hearing his first cry I was taken aback by its gentle sound. I was misled by my hopes for Eli. Just as all children, he began to show me his personality from the moment I first felt him move. I now know Eli and can see the little boy he would have become. He was the perfect addition to our family. A little boy slipped in on the tide after a sea of strong little girls. He fit like a missing puzzle piece. He was the best of both of us in life and I will miss that.

Unfortunately Eli lived most, if not all of his life, inside of the operating room. We were so blessed that day, probably more so than we deserve, we'll never know. We went to the hospital on a relatively chilly but clear March morning. Snow on the ground, melting, but firm. Preparations for surgery began and were carried out at an easy pace. The hospital not only adhered to our birth plan, but improved it. They provided a special area separate from birthing rooms and waiting rooms for our family to gather and had ordered a continental breakfast for them to have when they arrived. For our daughters they had prepared coloring books and crayons. I held it together until it was time for everyone to leave our room. One by one they stopped to hug me and wish me luck. They allowed not one photographer, but three, and my priest into the operating room. Our NILMDTS photographer, my father and my father in law (the fathers were also both allowed into the OR after Wyatt's c-section for photos) were all permitted in the operating room for the entirety of the c-section. They captured video and images that are beyond words and beyond priceless to our family. There is no value which can be placed on the whole of a child's life and I hope someday they receive great reward in heaven. I know capturing those images could not have been easy. There is so much pain on my face in most of them. But there is also so much beauty, things I could not see without their eyes. I had felt my husband's hand caressing my hair but now I can see that hand.

Eli was born crying and I was able to see him over the curtain. They had placed the warmer inside the OR within my line of sight so I was mostly able to see him being cleaned up and dressed. I have never seen a baby so quickly cleaned or clothed, diaper included, ever. We watched him cry, move his arms and legs and even briefly suck his thumb. This must have been exhausting for little Eli. He was lovingly wrapped and handed to my husband so we could more properly greet our son. Eli fit perfectly into our arms and I was able to snuggle him, kiss him and stroke his little cheeks. It is amazing how a baby goes from a wriggling mass inside of your belly to a beautiful little person who must be completely absorbed by the senses in just minutes. He continued to cry little cries and wiggle his hands while we held him but it was clear his time with us would not be long. The priest baptized Eli. We clung to him with all the love any parent could ever have. It was so wonderful and so very painful at the same time.

Soon enough, surgery was complete and my husband carried our precious baby down the hall to meet all of the family gathered for him. Eli was first greeted by all three of his big sisters who each had their cameras ready. I felt like a movie star that day, so many people, so many cameras. The girls each held Eli and embraced him in a way my heart had not expected. He was nothing but their brother and they loved every inch of him. Eli was then carefully passed around the room from person to person, brief moments I'm sure, that I hope were enough.

Our nurses that day were heaven sent. Eli was then carefully undressed, weighed and measured. It was the first time I really got to see his body. He reminded me so much of our middle daughter. He was thin without much chub, but so cute in his little diaper and gown. Once wrapped again he was mine. I don't know how many times I held Eli that day or for how long, but I do know it was never enough. I don't know how many times I kissed him or told him I loved him but I do know it was never enough. People eventually left, dwindling down to our daughters and my in laws. We asked our daughters to say goodbye to Eli as we did not know if he'd be there when they came back. They left the room and the two oldest returned sobbing. That moment said so much. It told me that there was some understanding of what was happening and that it hurt them and of course that broke my heart. We had them snuggle Eli and mommy for a while longer and assured them it was okay to feel sad because we did too.

Not knowing what to expect, I was especially stricken by my middle daughter. She, of the three, snuggled Eli the most. She took the most pictures. Her hand is in so many pictures while he is in my arms, stroking his nose, his cheeks, his hands. She was so in love with him. I saw my daughter in a new light that day and she is nearer and dearer to my heart than ever. I will never forget the way she loved her little brother, never.

Soon, it was just my husband, Eli, and myself. We held him, we rocked him, we sat with him, talked to him, kissed and snuggled him. Those were probably the most gentle and precious hours of my life. We were able to bathe him and explore every inch of his body. He was lotioned and dressed in an outfit which fit him perfectly. We both took photos and our NILMDTS photographer returned to capture those precious moments of bathing and loving that afternoon. We kept Eli well into the evening and as those dark moments approached my heart panicked and sadness took over. My head told me it was time again and again but my heart, and my arms, could not let go. I cried until I thought my heart would literally shatter into a million pieces. I held on with every ounce of strength I had left. Letting him go was the hardest thing I have ever done and yet it wasn't the first time I had done it.

By the time I was able to let go nature had unleashed a fury unseen yet this winter, as if it had come as unglued as I felt. We literally could not see across the street from our hospital window. The winds raged at 60mph and the snow blew completely white.

There are no regrets, just love. We celebrated Eli's birthday, thanks to our daughters and family, the way a birthday should be. With laughter, cupcakes, balloons, family and some tears. We shared hugs, smiles and kisses. Eli was loved perfectly.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Crying out Today

The last few days these words have hung heavily on my heart.

"My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" Matthew 27:46 & Mark 15:34. Apparently, this is the only phrase that appears in more than one Gospel and they are referred to as the "Word of Abandonment". It is striking that those words were spoken by Jesus, God's own son, during perhaps his darkest hour on this earth. Jesus, our Saviour, cried out these words to his Father.

There is faith and there is pain and sadness and hurt. Those words give me comfort today as my heart cries them out.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

No Parent Should Have to Suffer the Loss of a Child

Yesterday I finished reading "The Quickening" by Michelle Hoover. There is so much loss in that book. Loss of babies and children. In one passage, a mother speaks words something to the effect of "Children die. God does not do it."

I believe that one of the greatest injustices in life is the death of children, whether they are lost in pregnancy, infancy, childhood, teenage years or adulthood. No parent should have to suffer the loss of their child. No parent should have to face a day on this earth without their child. It defies the laws of nature. I don't think there can be a love greater than that between parent and child. A parent knows a child from the moment that life begins.

I've been thinking about how to explain what it feels like to lose a child to someone who has never lost a child. It is more than the excruciating immediate pain of the child's death. Beyond the feeling of burying your heart in the ground with your child. It is an ever present feeling that something is always missing. It happens when you see pregnant women, babies, babies or children that would be your child's age, babies the same gender as your child. It happens when your own children reach milestones and you are reminded of those that you have missed and will continue to miss. It happens when there is silence when your child's name should be spoken. It happens on days that are meaningless and is especially present on holidays and birthdays. It speaks to you even when you are not listening. Tears won't always flow and your heart won't always ache as painfully as it once did. It lives within every breath, every beat of your heart.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Anger & Sadness Creeping In

As the days close in on me, I am experiencing moments of anger. Anger that I'm making last minute funeral preparations instead of making sure the crib is set up and covered with freshly washed sheets. Anger at not getting to fill the closet with sweet smelling tiny little outfits. Anger at not having to buy diapers and wipes. Anger at having given birth to full term infants five times yet only having three beds at home. Anger that, after Friday, for each earthly child we have, we also have one in heaven (I have also experienced a loss via miscarriage). Anger at having had to lose and going to have to lose the pregnancy weight all of those times and possibly (God willing) again. Anger at having had all these c-sections and the limitations that go along with that. Had Wyatt not been a Potter's baby stuck transverse in my stomach without fluid, it is highly likely that I would not have had a c-section with him and might have been able to experience a natural birth. There are so many positive things that have come about from having repeat sections but I also mourn the loss of being able to give birth like nature intended. I am also very anxious and apprehensive to find out the condition of my uterus on the operating table Friday. It means the world to me to be given one more chance.

I am so very thankful to find out that our daughters have normal functioning kidneys but since we don't know why Potter's has struck our family twice I worry that someday in the future one, or more of them, may find themselves in my shoes, carrying a child not destined for this earth. As devastating as carrying these babies has been, I think it would completely destroy me to watch one of my children have to do the same. Five children and I have never had the experience of a "normal" pregnancy. All have been shadowed by the fear of something being or going wrong, all being traced back to our precious Wyatt. I know that I will never have that experience for my children either, each of their pregnancies will be shadowed for me by the fear of lightning striking yet again. This apparently is my burden in life.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Four Days and Counting

Our scheduled c-section is Friday and I can officially say I'm freaking out. Tears are constantly one blink away and my emotions are barely beneath the surface. I am very excited to meet this little one. To hopefully hear his/her little voice, get a peek at the eyes and touch his or her skin. I can't wait to see the color of baby's hair, whether it will be dark brown like Wyatt's or red or blonde like our other daughters'. I am curious to see what size of baby I've been toting around and whether this little one will continue my tradition of big babies. He or she has had two sisters that weighed over 8 1/2 pounds at 39 weeks, the youngest was just two ounces shy of nine pounds! We have almost positively settled on names and I am eager to bestow that name to a beautiful face. I am also extremely touched that almost every single member of our immediate family is planning on being present for this baby's birth. It is very important for me to be able to share this baby with them. I feel that seeing, holding and hopefully hearing our little one will create a more special place in their hearts for this child. He/she won't just be "something" that happened to Mandy. I also hope that their presence and witness to the extreme joy and heartbreak of the day will impact their lives in a positive way, one which I could not foresee. I also selfishly hope that this will help me in the future, that perhaps they will be patient for me as long as I need, that their memories of that day will linger.

Those are the good things. The not so good things are worries. Things which I know that I can't do anything about, just a fear of the unknown. I worry how I will be after the baby is born. How I will handle this, how our family will come through it. I know that even though I have lived through it once, there is no amount of preparation that can be done when experiencing the death of a child. Right now I am just clinging to hope.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Exhaling the Rest of the Way

The last few days have brought us much needed good news. First, we got the ultrasound report from our youngest two daughters which not only confirmed that they both have two kidneys but that those kidneys are completely NORMAL!

Second, I had my pre-op appointment yesterday and my OB felt confident that I will make it to my c-section date which is a huge relief to me after having so many contractions this last week. I may just get to keep my labor-free pregnancy streak after all!

It is as if a dark heavy cloud has lifted from above our household, if only temporarily. Now, we can celebrate our middle daughter's birthday with the joy it should be celebrated. Today I will begin constructing the four layer princess cake for my sometimes-is, sometimes-is-not little princess.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Waiting with Baby

We are still waiting for baby to come, any day or next Friday, it is clearly not up to me. I find myself drawn to these words "it is written". I say this not from a "it is God's plan" perspective because I truly don't believe that. I do not believe that it is God's plan to take my children from me. Not the God that I know and love. It is just a feeling. Babies go in, babies come out. This baby's arrival, though still imminent, has been written. I will be there, my husband will be there and God willing, our children should be there. That is what really matters to me. I find myself visualizing this like a professional athlete visualizes the big game or race. Playing it over and over again. In my mind it is happy.


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