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

Friday, March 30, 2012

Comparisons and Guilt

I am now in my 36th week of pregnancy with a healthy little girl who will be our fourth daughter.  And it's getting pretty hard to be pregnant.  Even though I have stayed in pretty good shape through running, then jogging, then walking combined with aerobics and pilates - and I actually feel better than I ever have during a pregnancy, I'm tired.  Emotionally, physically, and every other way imaginable this pregnancy is taking a toll on me.  By the end of the day I am one giant fluid filled ball with an aching feet and back.  My stomach, which has not fit into my short midsection for some time now, is completely filled to the brim with this little girl.  I expect a large one but would be happily surprised with a peanut as well.  Our first daughter was 8 1/2 lb at 39 weeks, the second 7lb on the dot and the third was a whopping 8lb 14oz at 39 weeks and with that little girl I weighed 25lb less than I had with either of her sisters, so who knows what'll pop out this time.

With every desperate thought of birthing this baby now rather than later the comparisons and guilt creep in.  I know there are others out there who think "suck it up, at least your baby is healthy" and I know this because I've been there, I've had those thoughts.  I also compare myself to people I know who have had much more difficult and painful pregnancies than I have and whose babies were also healthy.  I sit in a much much better place than so many other women but those realities do not squelch the comparisons or guilt.  I feel like my body can take no more, yet I know it can and probably has before.  More importantly, I know all too well how worth it this will be in the end.  I will appreciate this little girl's birth more than I would have were it not for our son Eli's birth and death last year.  The birth of three beautifully healthy little girls had lulled me into a false sense of security and dulled the overwhelming fears that surround a subsequent pregnancy.

Yet even though I "get it", the sheer exhaustion is getting to me.  Jokingly I have told this little one that I'm sure I will fall head over heels in love with her once she's born but right now I don't like her very much.  I had hoped to pass this last trial of pregnancy with a little more grace than that.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Bigger I Get, Lest I Forget

Readers, forgive my musings.  Most everything takes me back exactly one year in time.  To a most significant and significantly painful time - Eli's pregnancy, birth and aftermath.  One year ago Eli's already been born and  I'm left to sift through the emotions and weight that his short life left me with.  Now I am watching my stomach grow larger and  larger by the day it seems and this only serves to remind me of my struggles last spring.  The same struggles, with slightly different emotions, that I have dealt with after giving birth ever since our first son, Wyatt, graced our lives so briefly.  Wyatt was our first child, my first pregnancy and my first experience with childbirth.  Because we knew that he would not survive halfway into our pregnancy we never had the opportunity to prepare to bring a baby home.  So my preparations for Wyatt's c-section included attempts to erase the memories of that pregnancy from my physical world.  This meant packing away my maternity clothes before giving birth.  It is a tradition I have continued with each and every child since, those living and those not. This baby will be no exception.  I not only packed away the clothes but I took on the burden of losing my pregnancy weight, specifically my pregnancy belly, as quickly as possible.  It was too painful to still look pregnant, to even chance inviting questions from well meaning acquaintances and strangers.  Last year was no different except that I think, like during Wyatt's pregnancy, I indulged my emotions (grief, sadness, self-pity, fear) with food and I found that weight so hard to lose  for many months.  I lost the last pound of pregnancy weight when I got pregnant with this little one and since that was about six months after Eli's birth it  has been a little hard to watch that same stomach which I had worked so hard to deflate puff right back up again.  My internal mantra is to remind myself this one is different.  That  we fully expect to bring this baby home.

Those struggles have made me so much stronger than I ever imagined.  To some they may seem petty but to me my struggles with maternity clothes and pregnancy weight are so closely intertwined with the complicated emotions of grief and child loss that they are major battles within the war.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I Cut the Tie

From now on every March will be "that time".  The time when I find myself reliving the days leading up to, the day of and the days after Eli's birth.  I've celebrated his birthday, ignored his funeral anniversary and am now caught up with one of the finalities of his brief life - his/my hospital band.  I wore that hospital band long after he was born and took great care to protect it from water to preserve those precious words and date.  "Baby boy, March 11, 2011".  Concrete proof that I had another little boy, that he was real and that he was mine.  It got to the point where water had gotten into it and the ink was starting to blur.  This simple thing brought me to tears and forced me to a heartwrenching decision to cut off the band.  Cutting that band ravaged my insides almost as badly as putting my lifeless little boy's body in the nurses arms that snowy March evening.  For me cutting the band was as final as when they cut Eli's umbilical cord and severed my lifeline to him, literally beginning his death.  I don't know what day I actually took that band off and it doesn't matter, the thought still brings tears to my eyes and burns a hole right through my heart.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Just a Glimpse

Pain is all around us, all the time.  Often it goes unseen in the form of physical ailments unmentioned by the suffering individual.  Sometimes it goes even deeper, into the farthest reaches of a heart which aches for someone who is no longer there.  My pain has not given me an insight into others' but it has opened my eyes to the possibilities, the likelihoods and the realities.

We celebrated Eli's first birthday this weekend, one full year without him in our lives and it is upon that one brief day he was here, for less than 2 hours, that I now reflect.  I am thankful for every minute I was given with my sons while their hearts were beating, every second that life resided in their small bodies.  I saw Eli's eyes slightly open once and that one time has to be enough.  That tiny glimpse into my son.  The son that I had just given birth to and the son who I had hoped to hold in my arms, not just my heart, for a lifetime.  In that tiny glimpse I was able to see the baby I  would have taken home, the toddler I would have encouraged to crawl and then walk, the preschooler I would have taught, the gradeschooler I would have nurtured, the young man I would cherish knowing how quickly he would become my adult son whom I would release into the world.  In the blink of an eye my glimpse was gone and I would release my son into a world where I could not yet follow.

My heart is full of sadness and gratitude.  In those moments I was given more than many families will ever get and much was taken from me that many many families will never realize or appreciate.  Everything began with one, the first minute, hour, day, month and now year without him.  It is easy to get overwhelmed by what I don't have and to forget what I did have.  Eli may have died one year ago but my loving memories live on.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Happy Birthday, Eli

It has been one year since I held your perfect little body, heard your unassuming but persistent little cries and stroked your fuzzy brown hair.  I swear I can still remember every single detail like it happened yesterday.  So many wonderful memories were made that day.  Many smiles, hugs, kisses, snuggles and tears.  All of the fear, worry, anger and sorrow that I had saved up for four months of our pregnancy poured into that operating and recovery room and was transformed.  I cherish every single minute spent with you that day and every moment that led up to it.  Without the heartache and pain that led me to you I might not have experienced each moment as it was and I might not remember it like I do.  I miss you with my whole heart and soul endlessly.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Digging Out

32 weeks down and I've finally done it, I've cracked open the plastic bins containing this baby's clothes, blankets, sheets, towels and preciously tiny socks.  There is even a drawer full of little diapers.  I've been reluctant to get these things out because, well, because I still have a hard time believing we will need them.  The shadow of last year is still there.  The memory of growing rounder and rounder and then going to the hospital, delivering a beautiful little boy and coming home to a house that, with the exception of many beautiful and fragrant flowers, was the exact same house I left.  There was no carseat, no co-sleeper, no changing table, diapers, clothes, bouncer, swing or blankets in sight.  Preparing for my fourth daughter is surreal.  We have had most of these things for about eight years now and there are so many precious memories attached to them.

My husband gave me the final nudge I needed to dig in and he even provided a helping hand folding those tiny little onesies and sleepers, all the while pointing out which were his favorites.  He added another memory right there in the laundry room.  I feel a sense of renewal bringing these items out but they have not completely lifted the doubts hanging overhead.  I hope these next six or so weeks will pass quickly and that as we are able to get everything for this little one arranged around the house that seeing the constant reminder of our hopes to have a baby home again soon will carry me through to the end.


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