Hit Me

It hit me hard, and unexpectedly.  Friday evening, I was getting ready for bed and thought to myself “Today, I am 14 weeks, 1 day pregnant.  Nelle was born at 21 weeks, 1 day.  So I am 2/3 of the way as far as my last pregnancy.”  Somehow, thinking those words hit me like a torrential wave.  I began sobbing, so hard that I had to sit down on the bathroom floor.  I felt like I couldn’t breathe, and I couldn’t stop.  I think I have been focusing so hard the past few weeks on mitigating the stress of this pregnancy that I have not allowed myself any moments to grieve.  But I sat on my floor, with as much pain as I felt in those first few hours and days after she was gone.  I thought how I never got to meet her, never got to know what she would be like.  I cried so hard that I eventually threw up.

The past few weeks have not been easy.  The nausea has subsided, but at 14 weeks I don’t feel movement yet, so I am back to the empty, wary feeling of “nothing.”  Hopefully I will start to feel movements soon.  I am apprehensive about the mid-pregnancy ultrasound, where we found out last time that something was wrong.  The swell of news around Zika virus terrified me for days until more information came out and I think now I have sufficiently calmed down.  Time creeps by.  Still so many weeks to go.

I tried to find some joy in memories.  My Timehop reminded me in January of when I first learned that I was pregnant with Theo.  I posted cryptic messages to Facebook, but now I look back and know what they meant.  Today’s post was “going to move out of the stinky kitchen” as I calculated I would have been probably about 7 weeks or so, and nausea was likely taking over.

And today marks a huge milestone – I celebrate 10 years with my employer today.  What a journey it has been.  When I first started, I was a newlywed and recent college graduate (only married 2 weeks prior and only graduating 6 weeks prior).

I think a long bath is calling my name tonight.

It feels like spring is around the corner.

Nightmares

I suppose I should reflect on the lighter moment of my OB appointment last Friday.  I was so affected by the experience that I could only write about the traumatic part.  But my doctor said “Oh hey – you only gained 2 pounds since your last visit, and with the holidays in there, nicely done!”  To which I responded wryly “Yeah, well vomiting throughout most of the holiday season put a damper on eating much.”

I also had to take a depression screening survey at the beginning of the appointment.  I knew what the survey was looking for, and knew that if I gave truthful responses, it would likely set off some type of warning flag for them.  Questions like “Do you cry often?”  “Do you feel anxious?”  Well, yes, but with good reason.  So I debated lying on the survey, but finally decided to be truthful.  Sure enough, I “failed” the test, or earned too many points, or whatever.  I was like “Not to worry – I’m in therapy.”  At which point everyone settled down.

Quentin was a nightmare on Sunday at bedtime.  I don’t even know what started it, but it resulted in a full-out tantrum and him banging on his bedroom door to the point where I was concerned about damage to the door.  I finally told him that if he did not stop, I was going to take EVERY SINGLE STUFFED ANIMAL out of his room.  Clearly he didn’t believe me, because a few minutes later – that was exactly what I was doing – removing every one of his stuffed animals to the master bedroom.  That got his attention and he demanded them back.  I sat with him until he finally composed himself, and then told him that he could not have his animals back that night, but if he was well-behaved, he could have them back the next day.  He finally climbed into his bed and snuggled with his blanket.

I woke up from my own nightmare that night – a nightmare where, once again, I was told that our baby had no heartbeat.  It was so excruciatingly vivid that I woke up and for a moment did not realize that it was only a dream.  I am in an odd place right now, where nausea has subsided, but too early to feel movements from the baby so it is that “hardly seems real” place.

I spent yesterday with both kids, Theo having no school and day care being closed for MLK day.  Quentin was incredibly remorseful about the previous night, and sheepishly hauled all of his stuffed animals back into his room.  He also willingly helped me with laundry to make amends.  I had to debate frigid temperatures versus being stuck in the house all day, and we bundled up and trudged out to Trader Joe’s for a quick errand.  I had started a loaf of bread on Sunday, so then finished it up on Monday.  Bread-making may become my new weekend ritual.  And the loaf turned out gorgeously.

It is getting to be that time of year when I am itching to receive all of our tax forms.  I know that it could be through the end of January before we receive everything, but I always sit down and prepare our taxes immediately at the beginning of February to get it over with.  So I become antsy for everything to arrive…  We have yet in our married lives to have two tax years that were exactly the same in terms of what we needed to include on our return so every year is a bit of a roller coaster, even though I try to prepare as much as possible.

First Appointment

My first OBGYN appointment on the 18th was much harder than I thought it would be.  On the drive to the office I started crying fiercely, reliving the entire experience of hearing that our baby was gone.  I debated bringing Ger with me – I thought that if something was wrong, I would want him there.  But then I also felt that bringing him would be like admitting the possibility that something could be wrong when the likelihood was that everything was fine.  In the end, I went alone.

Then I had to fill out a pregnancy history – including miscarriages and stillbirths, and cried again in the waiting room as I had to fill out “Nelle, 21 weeks, stillborn.”  The nurse noticed my demeanor and asked if I was nervous and I told her that I was.  When she asked why and I told her, she came over and gave me a hug.

The doctor that I saw was the same doctor who did my delivery in September, so I did not have to rehash much.  I told him that I was scared; scared that while I’m nauseous and vomiting, I’m not as nauseous or vomiting as much as previous pregnancies.  He told me that I got lucky this time.  Certainly does not help my nerves.  I’ll be seen by regular appointments until 18 weeks, at which time I’ll start seeing a high-risk specialist.  But he told me that if at any point in between those monthly visits, if I feel like I need an extra visit for an ultrasound or to see a heartbeat, just to let them know.  I have visits scheduled through March, and avoided the doctor who told me that my last baby had no heartbeat like the plague.  I’ll avoid him the entire time, if I can.

Then I reviewed the After Visit Summary in my electronic chart and had to look at all of the classifications surrounding my visit.  “Supervision of high risk pregnancy.”  “History of stillbirth.”  At least I am familiar with the OBGYN group and know they will take good care of me.  When I mentioned to the doctor how hard it was come back he said “Some people don’t come back.  It is too hard, and they switch practices.”

I called to schedule the “extra appointments” for reassurances that the doctor told me that I could do.  The nurse who spoke to me acted like I was asking for something completely foreign and it got harder and harder for me to talk the longer I was on the phone.  I finally scheduled an appointment for next week to hear the heartbeat but what I really want is an ultrasound to measure growth.  However, since talking to the nurse on the phone did not get me very far, I will talk to the doctor again when I go in for my regular appointment on January 15th.  Or maybe having an ultrasound done that day will make me feel better.  But yesterday’s conversation only served to make me feel awful.

I am relieved that my nausea has returned.  I wasn’t able to much enjoy a nice dinner that Ger and I had at Ditka’s last night, but I was honestly grateful.  Apparently the nausea just decided to subside a few days for Christmas.

Three

Today marks three months since Nelle was born.  Outside it is foggy, which is a symbolic reflection of how I feel; like I am in a fog.  I came to the realization that I cannot say “three months since we lost our baby” because I do not know exactly what day her heart stopped beating.  Sometime between the ultrasound on August 24th when we first learned that something was wrong, and September 3rd when my OBGYN found no heartbeat at my prenatal appointment.  Sometime in those two weeks, she stopped moving and somehow I did not realize it, or was fooling myself that other twitches were movements, when they weren’t.

I have been in a fog for the past few weeks.  On Thanksgiving, I was numb.  Grateful that hosting provided me with an opportunity to be distracted, but I felt very hollow.  So devoid of feeling in fact, that the day after, I went back and read some of my blog posts from early September, in an effort to feel something.  That made it too real, however – I began reliving the experience and it became incredibly painful, so I stopped.  Better to feel numb than to experience that much pain.

Yesterday, I changed my cover photo on Facebook, from a photo of the tree where we scattered Nelle’s ashes, to a photo of our home, surrounded by snow.  It was unintentional that it was the day that marked three months since we realized she was gone, and two months since she scattered her ashes.  Once I made that connection, it made me cringe a bit.

Today, I’m not numb.  I’m more sad than I have been for awhile.  I had a few weeks of reprieve from the constant weight of sorrow, but it gets harder as I approach my due date in January, thinking about how I would be in the home stretch at this point.

Stats

I saw on a website today, a stat that said something like “loss after x number of weeks of pregnancy is really rare.”  I thought “How can it be rare??”  I have talked to so many women in the past two months who have had a stillborn birth like I did.  I remember at one of my prenatal visits being very shaken by knowing a woman who had just experienced a stillborn baby at full term, and the doctor reassuring me saying that such situations were “very rare.”  That continued statement that it is “very rare” is stinging.

I ordered my family memory books for the past few years.  I put one together every year and they end up being around 200 pages, so I wait for the website I use (Blurb.com) to have a sale, which is every few months  The books were completed, so I finally placed my order.  I am now working on 2015, which will be hard.  Since I arrange them chronologically, I am working on April right now.  Soon I will be working on May, when we found out I was pregnant.  Then I’ll have to work through all of the months and photos where I was visibly pregnant until we get to September.  It will be hard.

There is so much hatred in in the news right now, following the terrorist attacks.  Fear of Syrian refugees, when we should be opening our arms to help these people.  Fear is what the terrorists want.  These lyrics from Jewel seem especially poignant:

I’ve heard your anguish
I’ve heard your hearts cry out
We are tired, we are weary, but we aren’t worn out
Set down your chains, until only faith remains
Set down your chains

And lend your voices only to sounds of freedom
No longer lent your strength to that
Which you wish to be free from
Fill your lives with love and bravery
And we shall lead a life uncommon