Third Angelversary

I don’t know how it is possible that I lost Charlotte three years ago.  I keep thinking that this is the second anniversary and then I realize that two years ago, Ryder was here.  It has really been three years.

For some reason Christmas time has hit me a lot harder this year than in the past.  The first day I started listening to Christmas music, there was a slow song on.  It was Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas” and it hit me like a ton of bricks.  It was him with his irresistible blue eyes that sang to me in the wee hours of December 19th three years ago, when I was in the throes of labor, before I asked for an epidural.  It was him that was with me in the lowest hours of my life.  And now here he was, as he is every year, singing to me about his dreams for snow on Christmas morning.

How different Christmas time has become for me.

Yes, it is still the most wonderful time of the year and I love seeing this season through the eyes of my children.  But no matter what, there’s still one missing, she left six days before Christmas and despite it all, there is still a sadness that hangs over me.  I don’t mind listening to the sad, slow songs though because it proves to me that the heaviness on my heart is relatable.  And they bring me back and make me feel.  It’s all I’ve really got left.  

Maybe another reason that it has been a tougher year around this anniversary is because for most of the year we stay so busy that it is easy to push the grief away.  It’s not as hard to focus on it when there is work and school and endless training for endless races, and two boys with abundant energy and life itself but Christmas brings it home.  I can’t hide from the songs, the holidays, the weather, the fact that the middle of December is the saddest time of my life.

Because of how blessedly busy our lives are these days, I haven’t nearly had enough time to devote to writing and I think that may be affecting me as well.  While one of my outlets has increased exponentially, the other has all but ceased to exist.  I keep thinking that one of these days time is going to slow down (or I will learn to wake up before the sun gets up to workout), but it hasn’t happened yet.  Maybe that will be my resolution for 2017.

A month after Chase turned two, Brad and I talked about trying for another baby.  That turned into eight months of negative pregnancy tests, a heaping helping of frustration, elation at expecting a daughter and then a baby lost at 22 weeks.  About a month after Ryder turned two, I started thinking about another baby.  The timing of this year’s angelversary is exactly when I would want to think about adding another child to our family.  But as I’ve written about in the past, it is truly a wish and one that I know better than to act on.

When I lost her I found a silver lining in the fact that we hit the hardest holiday milestone straight out of the gate.  At the time, it never occurred to me that it would change the face of my Christmas forever.  

Most days I pinch myself and wonder how I got so lucky.  Other days, like today, I remember that this isn’t the happiest story in the world.  I miss you Charlotte and I promise I will miss you every single day for the rest of my life.  I hope that you are surrounded with hugs and kisses this time of year with both your Nana and Papa.  I hope you know how much your are loved and how much we all wish you were here with us.  I will love you forever.

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The Rainbow Chronicles: Troublemaker

April 12, 2014:

It’s kind of funny, I’ve never been one to get into trouble.  I have always played by the rules.  Always.  When I worked in sales, I never did any of the gallivanting that everyone else on our team did.  I didn’t have a napping spot that a frequented, didn’t go to the movies, didn’t goof off or lie about what I did or didn’t do.  I did my job because that is what I was paid to do.  When it comes to pregnancy, I never eat unheated sandwich meat, religiously monitor my caffeine and my blood pressure.  I don’t stand up for myself like I should, which means sometimes I get taken advantage of.  I am a freak about playing by the rules, it’s just my nature.  

These days, I am continuously targeted as a rule breaker, troublemaker and that I speak my mind too frequently.  I’m not sure if this is something that has developed or if I was never as great as I thought I was.  At work I was “setting a precedent” when I took several weeks to work from home after the stillbirth mainly to avoid having a nervous breakdown at the office.  I “come and go as I please” (i.e. I go to lunch just about every day), and it is because of me that we have to start clocking in.  When my co-worker’s father was on his deathbed three hours away, it was because of me that he wasn’t allowed to “work from home.”  He was required to take PTO or FMLA to spend time with his dad.  

In pregnancy, I’m the girl that’s always at the office.  I am the one that scowls at all of the visibly pregnant women that walk in the door.  I don’t make eye contact with people and I sit so I don’t have to look at anyone.  I’ve already had two blood draws done, with another scheduled for next week and it is probably going to get worse before it gets better.

So here is what I’ve learned.  I work for a REALLY screwed up company.  I’ve started looking for another job, and I have three back up plans if I can’t find one quickly.  I’ll use them for their paycheck for the time being, but it will be short lived.  If I have learned anything, life is too short.  As for pregnancy, as long as I’m pregnant, I’ll probably still be one of the troublemakers.

The Rainbow Chronicles: It Does Exist

April 2nd 2014: I spent most of yesterday morning trying not to vomit.

At 2pm (trust me, I didn’t have a choice), I had my first ultrasound.  No, this is usually not supposed to be very anxiety inducing, but let’s talk about my history.  The last three ultrasounds went a little bit like this.  “I’m sorry, your baby doesn’t have a heartbeat,” confirming that the baby was no longer alive in my womb and then checking to see if I could deliver said dead baby vaginally or not.  Considering I had only had four ultrasounds in the entire pregnancy before those three, I didn’t have such a great track record.  Add in the fact that I was not really experiencing my usual pregnancy symptoms this time around, and I was pretty much a nervous wreck.  Oh yeah, and did I mention that Brad couldn’t make it to this ultrasound and because of how last minute this was scheduled I had to go to the “other” office in the practice which did not have my favorite sonographer?  And it happened to be April Fool’s Day?  So yeah, I was a little nervous.

Everything went great!  For the first time my due date wasn’t moved back, I was actually measuring a couple of days ahead.  I got to see the little raspberry and hear and see the heartbeat.  It was awesome!  And since then, I haven’t felt the same hopelessness of Char’s pregnancy.  In fact, I’ve felt better and I am so happy there is a little teeny tiny beating heart in there.

The follow up doctor’s appointment went pretty well too.  My blood pressure was low.  I found out that I tested positive for a clotting issue that is hopefully easily solved.  I thankfully tested negative for the scarier issues.  I had my dozens of questions all answered.  I had more blood drawn (we are on four draws since the 14th of March, 15 vials so far with another draw and two more vials scheduled for tomorrow).  

So now, we hope, pray, cross our fingers and toes, and wait.

The Rainbow Chronicles: The First Doctor’s Appointment

March 24, 2014: It is harder than I thought.  Today was my first “real” appointment, where I met with a nurse and had to have blood drawn and was seen “in the halls” of the practice.  The OB nurse was nice and even said, “It’s going to sound like I’m repeating myself because I asked you these questions a couple of months ago.”  And she was right.  One of the lab techs said, “You look familiar, didn’t you just have a baby?”  Kind of.  Another nurse said, “You all sure didn’t waste any time.”  She kind of confused me because I don’t know if she knows that I had Charlotte and that it ended the way it ended, or if she really thinks we just had a baby.  All in all, everyone was incredibly nice.  I didn’t see my favorite ultrasound tech and held my breath when I heard her down the hall.  I wasn’t ready to see her.  I held my breath a lot.  When one of the nurse practitioners came out to see a mom with her newborn.  When one of the doctors I have seen before passed me in the hallway.  When the doctor who said Charlotte didn’t have a heartbeat passed by me.  Thankfully, none of them said anything.

While I was waiting to have 5 more vials of blood drawn, I sat in the lab/ultrasound waiting area, and I sat opposite where Mom and I sat five short months ago (to the day) when my favorite ultrasound tech asked “Do you want to find out what you’re having today.”  Saw my extreme (naïve) excitement and saw me looking over at my mom saying, “Oh my God, we’re going to find out today!”  Remembered just how lucky and fortunate I felt that we would be able to find out so soon.  How selfish I was to know before Brad did.  And it made me sad.  A lot of the appointment made me sad.  

I didn’t want to be visiting with the OB nurse again, being asked the same questions, signing the same consent forms for the same tests, and being told by a well meaning receptionist that I was going to “have to get used to peeing in a cup at every single appointment.”  I am thrilled to death to do it.  To have this opportunity that so many are robbed of, but man, I did not expect to be back here again.

The Rainbow Chronicles: Guilt

March 8, 2014: One of the weird feelings that have developed since I got the positive pregnancy test is the guilt I have felt.  It is unrelated to Charlotte.  We did not do this to replace Charlotte.  That is and never was our intent.  For one thing, it is impossible, for another, Charlotte will always be in our hearts.  We did this because we wanted another child.  Plain and simple.

On this journey, I have connected and reconnected with so many people.  That has been one of the silver linings.  I have heard the stories from people I never lost connections with.  Each and every story broke my heart, and now I feel like a traitor.  I have friends who have suffered through miscarriages.  Others that are struggling with infertility.  That’s not to say that this won’t end in a miscarriage, but for all of those that it has taken months or even years to get pregnant, just to lose the baby, and especially those that haven’t experienced the positive pregnancy test, I feel tremendous guilt.  Although, let me clarify something, it has never been easy for us.  This time, through some fluke of nature, we got pregnant on the first try.  Maybe it’s nature’s way of keeping me sane.  Maybe it is because Brad is home now and should be home the next couple of months.  Again, maybe it won’t end well for us, but this time it was one and done.

I have to remind myself that I am doing this for me and Brad.  I did not get pregnant to spite my friends.  I wish I had that type of control.  And again, this could all end in heartbreak.  But, today, at this minute I’m happy and I hope and pray and wish more than anything, that all of my friends, old and new, get to experience this level of happiness at some point in their lives.  And that their biggest wishes come true too.

The Rainbow Chronicles: 15 Hours Later

March 7, 2014: In the fifteen hours since I got a positive pregnancy test, I have literally had a million thoughts go through my head.  And that is expected and okay.

Of COURSE Brad is out of town when this happens, of COURSE I was the only one home when I got the results (save Foster, who was the only one around when I got the same test result when I was pregnant with Chase) and of COURSE there is a big family thing this weekend, out of town, where drinking will be expected.  

I am going to try to approach this pregnancy with a different attitude.  I am going to try to be positive.  I am going to try to not worry so much.  I am going to try to be happy.  I am going to try to not stress out.  I am going to try to be realistic, but not idealistic.  I am going to try.

Already, I am off to a better start than with Charlotte.  Ten or fifteen minutes after I took the test with her, a suffocating wave of worry came over me and never subsided until December 17th.  While November isn’t around the corner, it doesn’t seem quite so far away as April felt in August.  That same overwhelming feeling hasn’t set in.  Or, I have forced myself not to feel that way.  But if I have, I’m not trying that hard.  

I’m going to do things a little differently this time.  I am not going to completely give up my life and use pregnancy as an excuse.  I am going to eat as healthy as I can.  I am going to continue to exercise when I feel like it.  I have been on such a great path the past couple of months and I am going to try to stay that way, rather than give up.  

Another positive about this time?  It is almost spring and my weekends are booked until Easter, which is a great thing!  Then it will be summer, which never goes by slowly.  And then it will be fall and we will almost be there.  I am going to need all the distractions I can get and we are quickly coming upon that time of year.

Is this going to be unbelievably hard?  Oh my God, I can’t even imagine.  Are we guaranteed a live baby or even a fetus?  Absolutely not.  Will I stop worrying?  There is no way that I can.  But I can try to convince myself that I have no control over the end result (and do what I can to make that end result a good one), and hope and pray for the best.  In the grand scheme of things, isn’t that what life is all about?  

The Rainbow Chronicles

Two years ago today, my life changed yet again.  Eleven weeks after I lost my daughter to stillbirth I got a positive pregnancy test.  I was excited, terrified, elated and scared to death.  I had no idea what the outcome would be, but all I could do was hope, pray and take one day at a time.

Last year I wasn’t in the position to write about those days after the positive test and the fears, anxieties and wishes that followed.  I wrote nearly 100 posts, but never found the courage to post them because I wanted to have a living, breathing baby in my arms before I admitted that I was expecting again.  In honor of that anniversary two years later, I want to publish those thoughts.  So if you have experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth, I hope that you can find a light at the end of the table and maybe even hope.  If you aren’t there yet, that’s okay too.  You’ll know where to find this “series” if and when you are ready.

I will try to post once a week, but we all know how these things go.  Regardless, here’s the first of what I will call “The Rainbow Chronicles.”

If you have been reading this blog you know that I talk about the significance of songs in my life.  When Chase was born and he was nearing the end of his stay in the NICU, I heard Pink’s “Raise Your Glass” every time I left the hospital.  It was a truly celebratory time in my life.  At the time she was pregnant with her daughter, so I felt like I have a connection with her.  When she sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” at the Oscars, I cried.  There is so much more meaning that song these days for me and how appropriate that she sang it.

Three days later, I took a pregnancy test.  I felt like it was incredibly premature, but I was going to go out to get drinks with a friend, and I didn’t want to drink if I was pregnant, so I did it anyway.  After three minutes and no second pink line, I trashed the test.  An hour later when I was getting ready to leave for work, for some reason, I fished it out of the trash can.  It was positive.  Or at least it looked like it was.  Of course I didn’t have to pee again at that point, was already running late for work and I chalked it up to evaporation lines.  I enjoyed two glasses of wine that night.

The next day was the day that my period was due.  I went through the entire day just waiting.  When I got home after work and there was still no sign of Flo, I did another pregnancy test.  I told myself that I wasn’t crazy, that all of the images I saw of evaporation lines online didn’t look what I had I seen, and I still had not gotten my period.

After the allotted three minutes, I checked the test and what did it say?  “Pregnant.”

Ladies and gentlemen, here we go.

 

I thought…

I went back to work full time at the end of September.  For most of Ryder’s pregnancy and the entire first year of his life, I got to work from home.  Last January I started my own little company to bring in some money for the household and to have something to do.  Unfortunately, it didn’t generate nearly enough to be sustainable, so when I found out that there was an opening at a TV station where my old boss managed a team, I went back to work.  Even though it wasn’t ideal and wasn’t necessarily what I wanted, a full time job would afford our family an income to go on vacations, to not have to scrimp and watch every single penny we spent and would allow us to eat out every now and then.  We would live the life we had grown accustomed to while I was working full time.  And truth be told, I’m not exactly cut out to be a full time stay at home mom and it is hard to run a business from your house when you are dependent on questionable nap times to get everything done.

There is an event that every single salesperson in my industry attends every year at the beginning of January.  Since I grew up in the industry that I work in, this event is basically like a family reunion for me.  The theme of the night was, “How do you like your new job?”  But I also got a couple of “I thought you weren’t going back.”  Me too.  And if we’re on that subject, “I’ve thought” many things would be different with my life.  Most of the “I thoughts” have to deal with reproduction:

I thought I would have an almost two year old daughter.

I thought that pregnancy would be easy to achieve and childbirth would be on my terms.

I thought I would get to experience labor and have a living child at the end of it.

I thought I would be able to have three or four or five living kids.

I thought I would be a lot skinnier.

I thought I would have more money.

I thought I would be exempt from tragedy.

I thought I my grandmother would still be alive today and for years to come.

I thought marriage would be perfect.

I thought I would have kicked my sugar habit by now.

But it’s not all bad.  There are so many things that have happened in my life that I would have never dreamed possible.

I never thought I would be a mom to two boys, but it’s better than I imagined.

I never thought I would have a baby spend time in the NICU, times two.

I never thought I would marry my high school sweetheart.

I never thought we would live in our dream house at 30.

I never thought we would travel as often as we do and see as much of the world as we have.

I never thought I would enjoy cooking.

I never thought I would do the same thing for a living that my Dad did my entire childhood.

I never thought I would maintain such a close relationship with my family.

I never thought that me and my best friend growing up would have sons born one day apart.

I never thought I would run a marathon.

If I’ve learned anything it’s that life never ends up how we pictured it and sometimes that’s a good thing and other times, not so much.  But at the end of the day, that’s life.  And sometimes you have to throw out the “I thoughts” and do the best you can with the cards you’re dealt.

Two Years an Angel

My baby girl celebrated her second angelversary today.

On this second year I found myself holding my breath from Thanksgiving until the 19th.  Not truly able to appreciate the season because I’m so afraid that something else may go wrong during those doldrum days of December.

This year I went to Denver for a training for work, which was good.  It was a welcome distraction, but it also didn’t give me the time I wanted to write and think.  Thankfully there was a co-worker on this trip whose ex-husband worked at the same place I was working when I was pregnant with Charlotte.  On the two year anniversary of the day I first started worrying about something being wrong with her, I sat down by a gorgeous stone fireplace in a beautiful hotel with two glasses of wine and told her the “real” story why I left that company and all about Char.  I know that helped.  Even though it is sad, telling my story keeps Charlotte memory alive.

On the 17th, the two year anniversary of the worst day of my life, I came home and finished the book I had started on the 14th.  It was a wonderful story about sisters and at the end there is an unexpected death.  I shed some tears for the book and for Charlotte.  It was a welcome release and I needed a good cry.  I hadn’t had one in a while.

It did make me anxious to get on a plane the last “good” day of her life and the day we learned she was no longer with us. I made it home, I made it to December 19th and maybe tomorrow I’ll feel a little more in the “spirit.”

Charlotte, I hope you are laughing among the angels and getting the tightest squeezes from your Nana.  I hope that I do all the right things and make you proud that I am your mom.  You make me so happy that you are my daughter.  Know that I love you and think about you all the time.  I miss you more than you will ever know and there will forever be a part of my heart devoted to you.  Happy Angelversary sweet baby girl.  Until we meet again…

On This Day

The “On This Day” feature on Facebook is one of the coolest things that the social media site has ever come up with.  I can look at pictures of my bump when I was 20 weeks pregnant with Chase, then I can see pictures of when Ryder was so tiny and in the NICU more than a year ago.  I can’t wait for each new day so I can see what was going on one, two, five or eight years in the past.  

When we lost Charlotte, my husband deleted every post that mentioned Charlotte or earlier moments in the pregnancy.  There were belly pictures, a gender reveal, a pregnancy announcement, and several random posts about me being knocked up.  He took them all down.

I only made two mentions of even being pregnant on social media.  One was a pregnancy announcement that I waited to post until I was 15 weeks along.  I already knew that I expecting a girl, but I was so worried about the pregnancy that I didn’t post that.  Instead it’s a picture of Chase the day before he was to turn three, with his head in his hands saying “I asked for cars and trucks for my birthday, not a brother or sister!”  The only other post was announcing that I was pregnant with a daughter.  The next pregnancy related post was saying that we had lost the baby.  I forget that I kept the pregnancy announcement post “active” until the day before Chase’s fifth birthday when it popped up on “On this Day.”

It still makes me so sad.  How did we go from the couple that has everything to that couple?  How did we lose it so fast?  And why?  Always, always, the why.