The Hummingbird

One morning last week I was sitting at our kitchen table with my cousin when she looked out the window and said, “Look, there’s a hummingbird out there.” I have only seen a hummingbird in my city one time, nearly four years ago, and I will occasionally see them at Brad’s parents house, but they live 30 miles inland and have hummingbird feeders to attract them. This one was interested in only one particular plant in our backyard, Charlotte’s flowers. It kept hovering around them and zooming from planter to planter. I am almost positive that it was a female because it wasn’t the brilliant colors of the males. It made my heart smile.

I miss you baby girl.

The Guardian Angel

Growing up, my Aunt Rhonda’s “job” was running a small daycare out of her house. She usually had a couple of kids that she would watch during the day, but there was a time where all of the kids had grown up, her own children were in school and she took on a more permanent job. She worked in the office of an OB/GYN practice. Rhonda lives close by, so when I got pregnant with Chase, I hoped and prayed that she would be able to go back into childcare and would agree to keep him. It took about a month of convincing, but she finally decided to get back into it.

Flash forward to Chase going to RaRa’s house for about six months. There were a couple of other babies that had come and gone, when one of the nurse practioners at the office where Rhonda used to work called and asked if Rhonda could bring on another baby. She was due in January and later broke the news to Rhonda that she was having a boy (Rhonda is incredibly partial to boys). Rhonda told me that I “had to meet” this girl. “You guys are such much alike.” “Your husbands are so similar.” Blah, blah, blah. Eventually I met her, and it was fine. She was nice, friendly and we saw each other about once a month when I happened to drop off or pick up Chase super early. Her hours were way different than mine, so it didn’t happen all that often.

At the beginning of summer last year, I quit my job and took a couple of weeks off before starting my new job. My first real day off, I went strawberry picking with Rhonda, Lauren (the nurse practioner), her son and Chase. We had fun and it was one of the first times we actually had a real conversation. Rhonda was totally right! We had some strange similarities, and we had a great time.

I invited Lauren and the family to Chase’s birthday party in October, and from then on, we were friends. We texted occassionally, were happy to see each other at Rhonda’s, and that’s how it went. Then the night before my big 20 week ultrasound, we hung out with the boys, Rhonda and my family looking at holiday lights at the beach. I was completely FREAKING out about the ultrasound (as I was the entire pregnancy) and Lauren talked me off the ledge. She kept it up until that fateful day in December, and has kept going ever since.

I believe that people are put into your life for a reason. Rhonda worked at an OB/GYN office so she could meet Lauren, so she could keep Kellen, so Lauren and I could be friends. I feel like our friendship has been one sided so far. I rely on Lauren so much (and that will only continue if we go down the path of pregnancy again), and I can only hope that one day I can repay her. I doubt that will be possible, but she has really and truly been my guardian angel. She has answered so many questions, she has offered so much guidance (that I needed), and kept me sane and calm.

Losing Charlotte was single-handedly the worst thing that has happened to me. However, appropriately, some really wonderful things have stemmed from it. Among the other beautiful, wonderful women I have written about, I’ve been so happy that Lauren has been one of the ones to make such an impact and became a better friend. My only hope is that our relationship will continue for years to come because if anything, I owe it to her.

Today’s Your Day

Today was my last day at work. After a very short tenure, I have decided to try something new.

I started this job after a six year run at a company doing sales. I loved the company I worked for, loved the people I worked with, but I didn’t love the commission structure that they adapted that would leave me not making a single dollar in commission for some months. So I took this new job under some duress, needing a consistent paycheck and giving a “desk job” the ‘ole college try. There was new leadership, I was his first hire and the department and his leadership were under scrutiny when I started. In fact my first day in the building I had already decided that the longest I would stay at this company would be two years. There were already enough red flags that I knew this was not going to be permanent.

Less than two months after I started I discovered that I was pregnant. Four and a half months after that, my world came crashing down. I have not had the best vibes with this place.

Thankfully my boss and co-workers could not have been any more helpful. They were understanding when it came to me working from home for a while. They were supportive when I came back. They were kind, caring and compassionate in between. They got me through the toughest time in my life, and I’m not sure I could have done it without them.

Maybe one day I’ll tell you the details that I have omitted from the dark days of December and January. Maybe one day I’ll tell you the real reason that I left. But for now, let’s leave it all on a positive note and just talk about the good parts of the company.

As they say, all good things must come to an end. It is my time to move on. Starting on Monday, I am going to do something completely new. I am going to do something that terrifies me, but now is as good of a time as any. With Charlotte I realized that life is too short. There are too many parts of Chase’s life that I have already missed and with this new adventure, I will have the time to do the things I have not been able to do. Here goes nothing, so wish me luck!

An Ode to My Husband

I know I reference “my husband” or just “Brad” a lot on this blog. I talk about what an amazing guy he is, how he has kept me afloat, but I haven’t gone into specifics. Today is our ninth wedding anniversary, so I want to take the time to let you all know what a wonderful man I am married to and to reinterate how lucky I am to have landed him as my husband.

A couple of weekends ago I witnessed my cousin marrying her long time boyfriend and for the first time I really, truly listened to all of the words of the entire ceremony. They wrote their own vows and they were beautiful! In fact, I could not have written then any better, but the whole thing got me thinking. On our wedding day, most of us commit to each other “in sickness and in health, for better or for worse,” and know that the best is yet to come. The wedding day is usually the most hopeful day of your entire relationship, or at the very least of your entire marriage. You see years of love, happiness and maybe a houseful of children in your future. You envision the American Dream, where nothing does or will go wrong. And if (which is a huge “if”) something happens to go wrong, you will make it together.

When I said my vows to Brad nine years ago, I had no idea what life had in store for us. I imagined it would be typical to the way our lives had gone, rainbows and sunshine. It has been for the most part. We’ve hit some bumps, but none that we couldn’t overcome, and when we hit the biggest obstacle (so far), we came out of the other side stronger and better. And honestly, that’s the way it should be. That’s what I want out of a marriage and that is why I am so happy to be married to the man I am married to.

When I cried myself to sleep, he was always there, holding my hand. When I needed to vent and I was angry, he was my sounding board. When I laid all of the guilt on myself, he was there to help soften the blow. When I was irrational, he was there to talk to me back to sanity. And when I had my good moments and later good days, he was there to celebrate them with me. There was nothing left unsaid during those first couple of months. We communicated more in that time than we had in years. He never questioned my grief. Never made me feel bad about any feeling I was having. Never put himself first. He was my absolute rock when I needed him the most.

That however, was in our darkest moments. Thankfully, life is about so much more. He still makes me laugh almost every single day. He still tells me I am beautiful every morning. He still kisses me as night when he thinks I am asleep. He still wants to snuggle and cuddle with me (even when all I want to do is sleep). He cooks me dinner every night. He does my laundry without me asking. He rubs my feet and my back just because. He loves me for me. And doesn’t hurt that he is an amazing father. He makes Chase laugh, changed (past tense, thankfully) dirty diapers, gets him ready every night, and never turns down an opportunity to read a story. There isn’t anyone else I would rather have as a husband or as a father to my child and I still can’t believe that when we were 16 he picked me.

I love you more than anything Brad! Thank you so much for putting up with me these past nine years! I look forward to many, many more!

D-Day

Today is D-Day. April 17th. The day I had been waiting for since August, dreading since December. It took its sweet time getting here, but alas, it has arrived.

I have known that Charlotte was no longer alive for four months to the day. Those four months have seemed like an eternity, and even if I were still pregnant, I am sure that time would have slowed down to a crawl. Winter is my least favorite season, and we had one hell of a winter. In fact, it is the middle of April with highs in the 50s. Spring with all of its life and eternal hope has yet to have sprung, we keep bouncing back between it and winter. Thankfully after Friday, it looks like we may actually get a permanent reprieve of winter.

The past four months have changed us. We are not the same people or the same couple we set out as in August. And because it would have been the way of Charlotte, we are better for it. We are stronger as a couple. We have seen close to the worst and survived, maybe even thrived. We live each day with a lot less fear and see BS for exactly what it is. We embrace life and don’t take it for granted like we used to. Neither one of us takes the silly stupidity of work or everyday life quite so seriously. We are given this gift that they call life, and we have learned to live this short time we are here on this planet to the fullest. And we do it all because of Charlotte. Just because she wasn’t able to grace us with her earthly presence, she has made an incredibly positive impact in our lives.

Over the past 4 months I have written 90 posts on this blog. I have heard from old friends and made new ones, but it is time to take a little bit of a break. In case you haven’t noticed I have tapered off a little bit when it comes to posting daily. I plan on keeping that trend going. Yes, I love Charlotte and always will. Yes, life is harder because she is not with me. But, although things are not easier, they are better. Every day I feel better and get better. So, I will continue to post, but not necessarily on a daily basis. When something happens or I feel a certain way or something reminds me of Char, I will write, but it won’t be quite the necessity it has been. The 12 months since her passing will be the hardest, but as we approach yet another milestone, I feel like another chapter has closed. I am not sure how long this book is, but we are moving along, day after day.

Thank you for joining me on this life changing journey and stick with me, I think (and hope) the best is yet to come.

The Countdown

Tomorrow is my due date. I am 99% sure that I would have already given birth to Charlotte by this point if she had lived because of my history, but regardless, it would have been my due date.

I have been dreading/anticipating/waiting for this day since August when I first got a positive pregnancy test, and it has literally taken forever for it to get here. It seems like the past four months have been four years and the four months prior to that weren’t so speedy either. Despite everything, tomorrow will be April 17th whether I want it to be or not.

I don’t know why there is any type of anticipation now. I have a spoiler alert for everyone. Nothing is going to happen tomorrow. There is no Charlotte here, there will be no Charlotte tomorrow, and we are still breathing, still standing, still surviving. Charlotte will forever be in our hearts, December 19th and April 17th will always be special to us. Tomorrow will be hard, but we’ll get through it, and time marches on.

The Autopsy

I was told at my follow up doctor’s appointment in January that the cause of Charlotte’s death was “inconclusive.” I was told by my doctor to “mark it off my list, that is something I have gone through and will likely not go through again.” That was a little irritating, but also a relief, because it meant that the odds of going through that again (whether or not I actually believe in odds) were slim. I was supposed to get the final report at the end of February.

On March 10th, when I had yet to hear that final report, I called the doctor’s office and heard back from her on the 12th. Imagine my surprise when I was told that no, in fact there were some underlying issues. The final report stated that the cause of demise was due to several small blood clots in my placenta. Of course, this rapidly pushed other things into motion. I was to go get some blood work done to see if I have any blood clotting or anti-coagulation disorders. Turns out I have a mutation on one of my genes and I don’t process folic acid the way that I should. So, I was told to take more folic acid and also a baby aspirin if and when we decide to try again. And my doctor thinks that this has to do with the issues with Chase when he was born.

The thing that gets me is, what if we hadn’t decided to do the autopsy? Had we attempted another pregnancy, would we have been doomed to the same outcome? We were really truly torn between doing it or not because we were told that so often there isn’t really a true reason why these things happen. I think one of my friends for pushing me to do it because otherwise, who knows what would or could happen.

The Lost Days of December

I’ve been thinking about this some recently mainly because I’ve been remembering things or coming across calendar reminders looking through old stuff. There was an entire week that I lost in December. The week of the 9th started off innocently enough, but with all of the madness of the weekend and week that followed, this week simply disappeared. And that is truly unfortunate because it was a really great week and it was the last full week of normalcy.

Chase was in his school’s Christmas play that week. He was dressed as an angel (paper wings and a “halo” headband), didn’t participate in singing any of the songs (save one line of one song) and never even told us what songs they were performing. He was absolutely adorable though. I’m pretty sure I teared up when I saw him too.

Thursday (or Friday) of that week, I had lunch with one of my girls. We talked about how nervous I was in this pregnancy and how I couldn’t shake the fact that I felt like something was going to go wrong. I attributed it to Chase being wonderful and knowing how he was delivered into this world as the true reason why I was freaking out. Obviously, there were other reasons.

Friday, we went out to dinner with some friends of ours. We had a wonderful time, went back to their house after dinner and the boys played video games and the girls hung out upstairs talking about life and work and everything in between. Fortunately, Brad and the husband (his name is Michael) get along really well and are so similar it is literally scary. The wife (Dara, I’ve written about her) used to be my boss and again, she and I have a lot of eerie similarities.

There you have it. Three important days or dates that I feel deserve to be recognized. When everything still made sense.

The Bittersweet Birthday

Yesterday I turned 32. Aside from the chilly, rainy weather, it was a really wonderful day. We spent most of the weekend with some of our best friends, Chase woke me up with a card in hand, I had my favorite things for breakfast, watched college basketball most of the day, went shopping in the afternoon, took a nap, and enjoyed dinner at one of my favorite places with my parents and in-laws. It was a great day! But as most things the past three months, it wasn’t supposed to be that way.

Instead, it should have been incredibly stressful for one of three reasons, 1. I had a newborn at home (or at the hospital) 2. I was in labor at the hospital or 3. I was absolutely miserable because I was three and a half weeks away from my due date. And here’s the worst part. I should have been so clueless and naive that I would have let myself be miserable. That I would be angry for any of the above three reasons because they were interfering with my birthday. It’s funny how something can change a person.

This was again, one milestone in a long line of nine months ahead of me. But, it’s one I can mark off of my list, and despite it all, I look forward to seeing the Heather of March 23rd, 2015.

Future Pregnancies

With everything else that a stillbirth has robbed me of, one of the worst is the joy and happiness that will inevitably be sucked out of any future pregnancy. If I were hyper vigilant about every single second of being pregnant with Charlotte, I have no idea what I will be in for when it comes to getting pregnant again. Not only will time slow down to a crawl, but I feel like every waking moment before I feel any movement will be spend analyzing every single solitary symptom (or lack thereof). If I make it past the glorious end of the first trimester, I will still be in for six more months of torture. And that it will only exponentially get worse when it comes to monitoring any kick, punch or roll.

Unfortunately, the birth process will probably be the worst. If I make it to that point. As much as I really, truly wanted to experience a VBAC with a live child, I don’t think I have the heart to attempt another one. As soon as the doctor says, “Go,” I will want that baby out of me as soon as possible. I feel like I have been robbed (again) of experiencing a “normal” birth. The blissful ignorance that most other moms will have the pleasure of experiencing or even tentative excitement. I feel like every second leading up to delivery from the first positive pregnancy test will be wrought with worry and no matter what I say, I will be SCARED TO DEATH until I am handed (hopefully) a live, breathing baby.

We had talked about having three children, and I think if I have the privilege of bringing another live child into this world, I will be done. And that makes me sad. Brad and I have so much more love and happiness to give, but the stillbirth has made me such a wuss, that I will hang up the towel if we are lucky enough to have another live child.

And at the end of the day, is it even worth it?

Three months without her today. Will it get easier every month?