Living with the loss of stillbirth and learning to live in the sunshine of our new normal.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Because she is my daughter everyday.

I wanted to repost some of my blogs from Myspace. Namely, the two blogs I posted and left up for a week. I deleted them because it was too much.  But I want them reposted here because Charlotte is important to me every day. Not just the days that someone else remembers her. Not just on the days when I'm sad. Every day. Today. Tomorrow. And I want people to know her story. I want people to know what she was like, but I know I can't share enough of that. You will never know how amazing she was. How she would dance when I ate pizza, when I drank chocolate milk. How she was always moving, tumbling about in mommy's tummy. I can't share those things with you because they're mine. Those things are the kicks I feel late at night when I can't sleep. When I hear Sophia laughing in her sleep. I reposted those two blogs because I want people to know our story because some days I feel as though she is slipping away. Time is stealing my memories, making them fuzzy and uncertain. And I want to make sure that she never goes away. 

The Days Before

I have to start on Thursday. (Because if I started from the beginning, we would be here all day. I have so many memories of our time with Charlotte, that I could literally fill a book. Maybe someday I will.) Thursday, February 22, 2007. (Laura's birthday) When I left work (around 10 am, I was PT) I was on my way to take Mike lunch at work. Before I stopped for our Jamba Juice, I decided to go shopping. Now, as much as I love shopping, and as much as I loved buying baby stuff, I hadn't bought her any clothes yet. I don't know why, I just felt weird buying clothes for a baby we hadn't met yet. But this day, I decided it was time. I went to Ross (because really, I was looking for baskets for her closet). I found the baskets, and 6 or 7 cute outfits for my little girl. I patted myself on the back for finally accepting that we were having this baby soon. I drove to Mike's work, talking to Charlotte the whole way. She wasn't moving much, just a kick here and there. When we got to Mike's work, and I started talking to him, the baby started kicking like crazy. She woke up to do her daddy dance. That's how she was.

Friday I went shopping again. My never ending quest for the perfect diaper bag paid off. At Target, I found a plain black bag with plenty of pockets. When I talked to Mike on his lunch, I told him I'd finally found our diaper bag. I was excited. When we got home that day, we decided to put her bassinet together. I was convinced she was coming early, and we would be bringing her home the next week. I wanted to be prepared. The pack-n-play was a pain in the butt to put together, but we got it done. I even stocked it with diapers.

Saturday morning, I spent cleaning. Throwing out old crap. Organizing new things. That night, we went to Mike's parent's house to make dinner. When we walked in the door, their dog jumped on me. Full on, up on my stomach. My hands were full of groceries, I couldn't stop her. I will always wonder if that had anything to do with losing my baby. Anyway, we made and ate dinner, and I sat in the recliner afterwards. Charlotte was kicking hard. I was still having the strange, dull, pain in my upper right side. We never figured out what it was. Probably just her bum, up in my ribs. On our way home, Mike and I discussed having a small party the next weekend. His friend, Dan, was coming into town, and I said it could be baby's first party. I thought she'd be home by then.

Sunday morning. I got out of bed early, to check online and see if the changing table we wanted was on sale. It wasn't. I ate some Dove dark chocolate and watched tv for a while. When I went back into our room and laid on the bed, Mike asked me how the baby was moving. I hadn't realized it until then, but I hadn't felt her move all morning. I took a shower, and went and made some chocolate milk. I had a diet Coke. She wasn't moving. I didn't freak out yet, though. Some days she moved a lot less than others. But I called Labor and Delivery to tell them what was going on. I was 36w 3d pregnant, and I hadn't felt my baby move all day. The nurse told me to eat something. I said that I had tried milk and Coke, and she got bitchy and said it wasn't enough. So we went out to lunch. (I had gotten pretty upset by the phone call. Who was she to say I didn't know my body better than she? But still, I thought, she's a nurse. I'm a first time mommy.) We ate lunch (soup and salad and apple juice), and went home to do kick counts. I said we would give it until 4 o'clock. I laid down for about 3 minutes and said "Let's go." We drove to the hospital. When we were almost there, I started to cry. Now I was worried.
We got to Labor and Delivery, and there was a man with a bouquet of roses, asking about a patient. (I think it may have been his daughter?) The nurses told him that she had been released that morning and was gone. He got very angry. I remember looking at the roses and seeing that they still had the price tag on them. He stormed out of the room. The nurses turned to us and I told them "I haven't felt my baby move". The nurse asked "Did you call earlier?" "Yes" "Do you know who you talked to?" "No". I'm pretty sure this was the nurse I had talked to, and she didn't want me to know. We were walking down the hall and she asked me what was happening. I said "The baby is being very quiet and it's very unusual for her". At this point, I was freaking out. We got into the room, I changed into the gown, they brought in a nurse (Michelle) to check the heartbeat with a doppler. She couldn't find it. Her hands were cold, and her voice was pretty quiet. She patted my hand and said they were going to have someone else look. Someone else looked. And someone else. And someone said "I'm sorry, we can't find a heartbeat." And someone brought in an ultrasound machine. And a different one. And someone called my doctor. At one point, a new ultrasound machine was brought up, and the tech said "I'm here to check for the heartbeat" And I said "There isn't one." We called our parents. My doctor arrived.

The Day Of- 02.25-26.07

Dr Hansen walked in and sat on the foot of the bed. He said "Hi. Scary." And I don't remember what I said. He took another look with the ultrasound machine. He said "This happens to me about once a year." I know he was trying to help me understand. He talked to us about what was going to happen now. He said more than likely what had happened was that the cord had gotten wrapped around our baby, cutting off her oxygen. He said we were going to be induced. I told him I wanted a c section. I wanted to be knocked out completely and I wanted them to take the baby out while I slept. He told me this was not a good idea. He said I needed to go through the labor process. I needed to bond with the baby. Who was he kidding? I had bonded with this baby for the last 8 1/2 months. I had slept with her, eaten with her. Sang to her. I had felt her kicking me for months. But to be fair, he also mentioned that having a c-section would affect future pregnancies. He wanted me to think it through because I would probably end up with subsequent surgeries if I chose that route. And he knew I did not want to have surgery. He brought in the anesthesiologist to talk to me about our options. Because I had eaten 3 hours previously, if I decided I wanted the surgery, we would have to wait at least 8 hours. Or they could start medicine for induction. Mike and I talked about it. I wanted to get it over with. We decided not to have a c section. (Let me also point out that at this time, I was almost at the point of being unable to make any decision on my own. Mike was my eyes and ears and mouth for the next 2 days. If I was asked a question, I could barely answer it without his help. He is my rock. My strength, and my heart. He is the strongest person I know, and without him, I would never have made it through this.) My concept of time at this point is fuzzy. From this point on, things happened, and while I know the basic order of how and when they happened, I couldn't tell you specific times. I will try not to get too mixed up. Our families came in and everyone cried. (I've been told that throughout the days, I was eerily calm.) Our family members came into the room, and no one spoke much. Mostly, people stood or sat around for hours and stared at me. (This was one of the hardest things for me. The way everyone looked at me. Not really as if they thought I had done something wrong. But like they didn't know what to say, and they thought staring at me would bring the words. I didn't feel accused, but I felt raw from being so exposed to everyone. I really, really, wanted everyone to leave me and Mike alone. But I also knew that they too had lost this baby, and I knew that Mike would need support, because I was unable to give him anything at that time.) Sometime later that night, the nurse gave me my first does of Cytotec, to help soften my cervix. It was the most painful thing they did to me. The nurse (Jodi) gave me a shot of Demerol and some Ambien to help me sleep. The Demerol was really nice. I felt floaty and drunk. But I still didn't get much sleep. Between being so emotionally exhausted, and the nurses coming in every 1/2 hour, it was hard to rest. At some point, Mike took the BP cuff off my arm because it was going off every 15 minutes, waking us up if we drifted off. In the middle of the night, more Cytotec. Not as painful with the Demerol, and another dose of that as well. The next morning, we had more visitors. And the waiting began. They started my Pitocin. I was already having pretty strong contractions by then, and the Demerol wasn't taking care of all of them. At this point, I didn't want to feel anything at all. The nurses said if I wanted an epidural, I had to get it now, because the anesthesiologist was going into surgeries and it was my last chance for a while. So (even thought it was probably only 11am) I got my epi. This was something that had scared me during my whole pregnancy. Just the thought of it had me shaking. But when it came time, it was over very quickly. It didn't hurt, and it started working almost immediately. My nurse kept coming into the room and turning off the Pitocin. I was having contractions so strong, they thought my uterus was in danger of rupturing. Then they would turn it back on to get me going again. On, off, on, off. At some point, I started feeling really achy in my lower back. Then it turned into a pressure-pain mix. My epidural wasn't working anymore. The anesthesiologist came back in (I guess he was between surgeries) and told us it was on a pump and wouldn't run out. I said I could feel my back was very cold, and I was having severe back pain. (The doctor was very nice about the whole thing, but I could tell he thought I was full of crap). He checked the line, and figured out that the tube was leaking, and the medication had been running down my back for who knows how long. I guess I wasn't lying. He fixed the problem, re-dosed me so he wouldn't have to come back, and went on his way. All morning, and maybe even since the night before, a nurse (?) from the U of U was coming into our room. She was part of a stillbirth study, and they wanted us to participate. More to the point, they wanted our baby to participate. They would pay for an autopsy to be done on our girl. This woman was in and out of our room at least 15 times. She wanted us to sign the papers. She kept pleading her case. I don't know if we agreed because we wanted to help, or just to make her go away. I think it was some of both. My doctor came in and broke my water. I really have no idea how dilated I was at this point. Everything is so fuzzy.. Anyway, sometime later in the afternoon, it was almost time to push. Mike and I had turned on the tv finally, and we were watching a classic car auction. I remember Christopher Titus was selling one of his cars, and he had his little girl in the car with him. The nurse (Teri) came in and had me start pushing, just to see how I did. We all watched the car show together for a while. When my doctor came in to deliver the baby, he made us turn off the tv, and I was a little mad. I would've liked the distraction, I guess. But as I look back now, I'm really glad we were focused on the task at hand. For some strange reason, we had two nurses. Teri was training someone named Jan. I was confused as to why this was a good time to have a newbie nurse being trained, but whatever. I had to be told when to push, because I could not feel any of the contractions at all. I was completely numb from the chest down. I started pushing at about 3:50p.m. Mike held my left leg, Teri and I held my right leg. Teri would count, and I would push. I remember thinking how easy it was. After all the worries, all the stories.. This was easy. Like it came so naturally to me. Hold your breath, and push. Have a baby. I pushed for 10 minutes and the doctor told me to stop and push slowly. I didn't. Gung ho. I felt her shoulders come out (because I tore open at that point.) Dr. Hansen asked if Mike wanted to cut the cord, and he said yes. This surprised me, because of our discussions in the past. I loved him so much at that moment, I couldn't breathe. He handed her to Teri, and in the transfer of one person to the other, they almost dropped my baby. My doctor said "Give her to mom. Without dropping her, please." I asked Teri to please wash her off before she handed her to me. She did, and then she wrapped her up and handed me my baby.

Charlotte was born at 4:10p.m. She weighed 6 lbs 2oz. She was 19 inches long. She had dark blond hair. My nose, Mike's mouth. At some point, we were crying. We looked at her, we held her. The nurse asked us if we would like her to be bathed in our room or in the nursery. She stayed in our room. The nurse re-dressed her as I was getting my stitches. They put her in a footed sleeper. It was white and frilly with a pink rosebud at the top. They gave her a white knitted hat. She was wrapped in a green blanket with pink and blue giraffes. We had her with us for 4 hours. She was still warm from my body. We held her, talked to her. Mike would come over and take her out of my arms, and I kept thinking how tiny she looked in his arms. I kept saying "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." to her. We told her we loved her. We told her how much we wanted her. I told Mike "I'm glad Laura is up there to take care of her." We gave her Laura's name. At one point, I told Mike, "I feel like this isn't our baby. Our baby was so feisty." I regret saying it, but it was what I felt. Our baby was so full of life. She had such an attitude.. Mike said "It is our baby and she was feisty." Our families came in to see her. I wouldn't let anyone else hold her. When it was time for her to go (Primary Children's Medical Center was there for her. That's where they were taking her for the autopsy.) our nurse (Kristy) asked us if we would like to keep her clothes. We said no. We didn't want her to be cold on her trip to the other hospital. She asked if we wanted pictures. We said no. We had taken a picture with our camera. She asked if we wanted hand and footprints. We said yes, please. And then our baby was gone.
A few hours later, my nurse came back to get me cleaned up. Kristy bound my breasts to prevent my milk from coming in (which didn't work..) And then it was time to move to a different room. I believe they said it was because the floor was full. I know they thought I would be better off away from the maternity ward. They took me downstairs (I seriously felt as though they stuck me in the basement.) My new nurse acted as if I was already being a pain. It took a few hours, but I think she finally read my chart, and then she was very gentle and kind. Mike and I both slept in my bed. The next morning, after the doctors and nurses had come to let us know what to look for in the next few days, and have us sign the discharge papers. I wanted to go home so badly. Then a nurse came in and said my bloodwork (They had taken what seemed like gallons the night before. For tests, for labwork, for the SCRN study) had come back and said I was not immune to Rubella. As I was arguing, I was immunized before 10th grade, the nurse stuck a needle in the back of my left arm. It hurt like hell. Burned. I was crying again. Why wouldn't they just let me go home? And then they did. I was wheeled out, bawling. Mike got the car. We got in it and drove away from the hospital without our baby girl. We came home and slept for hours. We buried her on Saturday, March 3. The day my milk came in.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Close Enough

I do not believe that everything happens for a reason. I believe that people who believe that are looking for a way to explain things they don't want to face. No offense to those of you who believe that, I'm just angry. I was talking about it with a very good friend of mine the other day. She said, "I believe things happen the way they are supposed to happen." I said, "I don't." And she said, "I know you don't." Kind of blew me off like I was an idiot for thinking the way I do. Even though she knows why I think the way I do. I think that if she was the one that had lost a child (heaven forbid) she wouldn't have been so nonchalant about it. In fact, I think that probably, if you'd lost a child, you wouldn't believe in much of anything. Until you held another baby in your arms. This one- that looks back at you- who looks like you. Who looks like her sister. Then you could start to believe that it was okay if the world goes on. Then you could wake up (if you were lucky enough to sleep) and not feel like immediately closing your eyes again. I do not believe that everything happens for a reason. But I do believe that there are things that happen that will change the way we see/feel/breathe/believe. That maybe we find reason in the things that at first we don't understand. That there are things that happen that make God sad. That He doesn't strike us down because it's his job, but that it's His job to watch us learn and to grieve for us and with us.

You would think that by now, I would be writing happy blogs. It's strange how I have always written more when I am unhappy. It's a strange thing. But I have realized that I can write more when Ben is in my life. I think he might be my muse. I spent two days with him last week and I felt like writing again. I started thinking in poetry, which hasn't happened in years. Unfortunately, I didn't write it down. These are the things that fall down around us. These are the things we spend our lives picking up.

After 19 months it feels worse. Every day is one day further away from Charlotte. When I miss her, I still put my hand on my stomach, almost like I expect her to be there. I put my hand on my stomach, where she lived for 9 months. Even after giving birth to her wonderful, beautiful sister, my body feels empty. Because she was lost so suddenly. Because she was gone so quickly. The week after we lost her is a blur. I remember flashes. I remember after her funeral. I remember laughing at Mike's friends and thinking, "Oh my lord, did I just laugh?" It wasn't even at something funny. I remember feeling like shit because everyone there turned and looked at me like I'd forgotten that we had just buried my daughter. I remember that. I remember picking out a headstone. I remember feeling her kick. I felt her moving, but when I put my hand to my stomach to feel her, she wasn't there. Sometimes I still feel a baby moving, and I always think it's Charlotte. Possibly because Miss Sophia is sitting here in front of me, babbling and blowing raspberries at her toys. 

I understand how blessed I am. As much as I write about Charlotte, I do not write about Sophia, and I realize that it may seem strange. Here I have this wonderful, beautiful baby, and all I write about is her sister. But I am able to take endless pictures of Sophia. I take nearly a thousand a month. I am able to hold her when she is upset. I am able to see her smile in the mornings. I sing to her, dance with her, read to her. I am not ignoring the fact that I was given the world back after I lost it. Every day- I thank God for what I have been given. I am aware of how lucky I am to have both Sophia and Mike, who keep me going. Who drive me crazy. Who make it possible for me to breathe.

And while all of these things are brewing in my head, because I don't sit down and take the time to blog them out often enough- more and more things happen that build up. Tarina and Neal and Aiden are on their way back to California to start their life as a family. Jeremiah and Felishia brought Wyatt home from the hospital last night, where he had been for several days because he had meningitis. I felt so helpless, being so far away from them, not being able to help. Or even to say somehting that would help. In situations where a baby is sick, I freeze. I feel like I cannot bring comfort. So I ask God to please help Charlotte to watch over her cousins. And I know she does.

And through all of this, through the nights of insomnia, and the frustrating days of not knowing where I fit in as a mother- I have this amazing "new" set of friends. My Online Friends, I call them. And I know that I am so lucky to have them at this point in my life. Especially Lisa- who keeps me sane when I start to feel like I am going to fall apart. I can always count on these ladies to make me feel as though I am not the only person in the world up at midnight with crying baby, that I am not alone in the war on teething.  On the days when I feel like I am a horrible person for ttc so soon after losing Charlotte, like I am an idiot for using her baby book for  Sophia. These women gather around me and reassure me that I am only human. That I am a sleep deprived, babbling monster sometimes, but that I am a mommy- and I am doing an okay job. They make it possible for me to function on 3 hours of sleep, to not only function, but to KEEP my sanity, to be able to laugh and play with Sophia even when I feel like crying. Because I am a mommy, and that's what we do.