Elegy for Amy

Limbo June 27, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — elegyforamy @ 3:49 am

Time seems oddly suspended, lately. I’m in some kind of strange limbo-land, where almost without trying or meaning to, every day as I take a step farther from losing Amy, I take that same step closer to trying again. It’s all little things, small changes here and there, just happening almost without my input. 5 weeks ago, the idea of taking prenatal vitamins made me want to cry, so I started taking Flintstones instead. Two is supposed to be the same as a prenatal, and I couldn’t even handle that. The stupid optimism of it seemed insurmountable. I took one, most days. Then I took one, every day. At some point a few days ago, I just started taking two. The mind, it does its thing, even when we don’t realize it’s happening.

Even still, I knew this month or so would be hard for me, and it has been. So many important dates, plans, and people swirling around. If life were different, tomorrow would have been my last Lovenox shot before they switched me to heparin. Baby-can-come-any-time-now heparin. It would have been a celebration. Now it’s just another Wednesday.

At the support group, the leader mentioned for the briefest of moments the positive things our babies brought to our lives. Such a hard thing to think about. Nothing good should come from your child dying, but inevitably good things do come. Not that you wouldn’t trade them all for your baby, of course, but good things do come. We found out about the true strength of our marriage, and for that matter, our friendships. I learned, finally, how to slow down and truly live in the moment. I learned about being a mother, and about grief, and that everything they say about both is true.

And the best thing, brief though her time here was, was Amy herself. She was mine, she was ours, she was his. I loved her before I even met her. I miss her every day. And I guess I always will. When we were in the hospital, they took a bunch of polaroid pictures of her for us to have. A few days ago, I became terrified that we would somehow lose them or something would happen to them and these are the only copies, the only proof she was here, so I scanned them in. If you want to see them, behind the link below are a couple of photos of our daughter.

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June 23 June 24, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — elegyforamy @ 4:24 am

A warning: this post might be really weird, or totally TMI, or make a lot of sense to others in my sad little boat, or maybe all three of those things.

Today was my birthday, and when I woke up, I was really sad. I’m not sure why I would be sad about Amy specifically on my birthday, which obviously has nothing to do with her, but I was. Maybe it’s just how different I thought this year’s birthday would be. How I thought I’d be weeks away (maybe less!) from bringing home a daughter, a whole new person in the world, all ours. Or maybe it’s how the only thing I want, can’t really be gotten.

But then the day turned out not to be sad at all – or it was, but it was also a very nice day, and aside from the obvious, it was exactly what I wanted, which is low-key and relaxing but important to friends and family. And many very lovely friends from an online group I was very active in when I was pregnant, they all got together and made me a blanket, for me, and for Dan, and for Amy, and in one of those moments where the universe reaches out and says hey, maybe there’s a plan here, it arrived today, on my birthday, and with it were dozens of cards and hugs. It was a great end to the day.

And I got one more thing today (warning y’all, this is where it’s about to get TMI/gross/weird if you’re squeamish) – my period. I know that’s kind of weird to talk about on the internet, but to me it is a huge deal right now. For a lot of little reasons, one of which is it’s the second one after giving birth which takes me out of the pregnancy danger zone, but the biggest reason is because it is my body, doing what it is supposed to do.

When something like this happens, especially when the cause is pretty much narrowed down to either your cervix effed it up or your uterus effed it up but there was nothing – NOTHING – wrong with the baby or the pregnancy, mentally, you get into a bit of a fight with your body. Fight being maybe a mild term. I am angry with my stupid, stupid body, which failed miserably at its job and killed my poor baby girl. Harsh language, maybe, but that’s how it feels. My body has failed me, and my husband, and our child, and everyone who already loved her or would have.

So, when I get my period, and then I count the days, and I ovulate, right on schedule, and then I count the days, and my period comes again, right on schedule, I want to shout with joy. Hallelujah. My body is doing what it is supposed to do, instead of screwing everything up. My body is healing. Readying itself, just like my mind.

I don’t know, for most people, it would probably be kind of a shitty birthday present, but it makes me feel something almost like hope.

 

Rules for Grief June 22, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — elegyforamy @ 1:00 pm

The grief process. Sometimes these days, I feel like if I hear one more recommendation about it, I’m going to scream. Medical and mental health professionals alike emphasize the importance of “grieving properly” and “being sure you’re ready” before trying again.

Here are my questions.

How does one “grieve properly?” I wasn’t given any rules. So far, grieving seems to me to be pretty goddamn random. Some days, I am unbelievably sad. Some, incredibly angry. Some days I want to spend the entire day just chanting “I want her back, I want her back, I want her back,” over and over until someone comes and rewrites history for me. I manage to pass for normal, conduct my daily activities, and more or less at the end of the day, I’m okay. I’m surviving. I’m not unhappy, on a daily basis, but there is a giant hole that can not be filled. Maybe it gets smaller over time. I don’t know. Is this “grieving properly?” And who are you or anyone to tell me I’m doing it wrong? I feel like I am coping well. Sometimes, I feel like I talk about my dead baby a little too much, and sometimes, I don’t even when I’m thinking of her, but then I feel a bit like a fraud, so mostly, I just talk about her when I feel like it. It makes everyone else uncomfortable. Am I grieving properly?

And, seriously, how the fuck is anyone supposed to “be sure you’re ready?” I wasn’t even sure I was ready the first time around. It just seemed like I wasn’t ever going to get MORE sure, and I was sure we WANTED to do it, so we did it. Who’s ready, really, ever? And now, when I’m thinking about whether or not I’m ready, that has to include being ready to have another dead baby, being ready to undergo a scary procedure while pregnant, being ready to spend 9 months in virtual stasis as my every movement is feared and monitored, and being ready to cope with the incredible anxiety that comes with all of it, not to mention the grief for my dead child as I try to grow a second which seems sure to make me sad for the first as we hit new milestones.

Really, I’m supposed to be SURE I’m ready to deal with that? I’m kind of figuring that I’m “ready” when I feel like I can probably SURVIVE that, never mind actually dealing with it properly or whatever it is they expect from me.

They have some handy guidelines for how you know you’ve done these things, and they’re annoying. “Waiting 6-12 months” is how you are supposed to know you’ve “grieved properly” and “are sure you’re ready.” I think it’s entirely possibly for neither of these things to be true in 12 months, or 24, or 72. I also think it’s entire possibly for them to be true sooner.

I went to a support group for moms who’ve lost babies this past week. It was really sad, and it was … nice? … to be around other people in the same boat, with the same ghosts, with the same feelings. In a place where you aren’t the only one who makes dead baby jokes, where people even laugh at them occasionally, because really, this is a thing so tragic you have to find the sad comedy. The lessons on grieving though, the suggestions for things to do, I’ve already done those. Been doing them. Does that mean I’m doing okay?

What I really learned there is how lucky I am, how incredibly lucky, ironically. I am in a far better place than many of the women there, some much farther along the path than I am, and I really believe it is because of all of you. My family and friends and the internet communities of people I’ve never even met, who remember Amy, and remember us, and listen to me talk about her, always.  Because of you, I don’t have to pretend that this didn’t happen or that it wasn’t awful, and I don’t have to try to figure out some new life where I can fit in now. I still fit right here, right in my life, it’s just different, and in some ways, that in itself is a pretty wonderful thing.

Am I grieving properly? Hell if I know. But I’m doing the best I can, and I think that’s alright.

 

Missing Her June 16, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — elegyforamy @ 1:21 am

I think I might be a terrible dead baby mom; I have no idea anymore how many weeks it’s been since Amy died. The date is of course etched forever in my brain, and I know three months is therefore July 3rd, but how many weeks is it? I don’t know. Does it matter?

I’m sad. How many times can I post that on this blog. I’m sad, I’m sad. You get it, I know. I’m sad. You got the memo. We all did. But I sit here, feeling so much and thinking of her and vividly remembering the few hours we all had together in that sad, sad delivery room, and all I can think to say is, I’m sad. There are no other words.

I asked Dan, how does he think of her, and not get so sad. And he tells me, that once you accept it, it’s just how it is, and that doesn’t seem as soul-crushing. I could not disagree more. I have accepted it. I know this is how it is. I don’t think it can be changed, I don’t bang my fists shouting about how the injustice of it all. I have become actually very adept at giving the short version of the story. Without crying. Without my voice breaking. As if I were telling any other story, something that wasn’t like the worst story ever told.

I have accepted it, but that doesn’t really help. I think of the actual birth. I remember when they handed her to me. I was so afraid, before, to hold her, to see her, of what it would be like and if she would even look like a baby, but after I delivered her, they handed her to me and I wasn’t afraid at all, I just wanted her. Loved her. I remember looking at her tiny, perfect little face and stroking her tiny, soft head, and remembering that, it’s soul-crushing. It’s sad on another level.

Today, the church near our house put up a Father’s Day message. “Children always look up to their fathers, no matter how tall they are.” We used to joke about how Dan would scare the baby because he is so, so tall, so I read this and immediately my mind flashed to the delivery room. To Dan holding our tiny, perfect daughter. He could hold her with one giant hand; her head and most of her torso fit in just his hand, and I watched him just staring at her, in awe, in sadness, in everything, and my heart broke over and over. And I could just see the top of her head over the receiving blanket, and I kept half-expecting her to move, until I finally had to stop looking, so great was my desire for things to be not at all what they were. Remembering that? Is soul-crushing. I don’t care how thoroughly you’ve accepted it. It’s the saddest thing in the whole.entire.world.

And so I saw the sign and thought of him holding her, and I’m crying, and I get home, and there’s a new flower blooming on her tree. I swear to god it wasn’t there this morning.

 

The Scarlet Letter June 14, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — elegyforamy @ 3:26 pm

I wrote this post over a month ago, and for some reason, today, I am brave enough to share it.

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I want very badly to keep this blog honest. To say out loud the things that are in my head, that maybe I wouldn’t say out loud to anyone but Dan. It helps me to do it, to record it, to read it later, and even when all of you comment on it. And I have this hope that it might help someone else, later on, traveling on this same sad road, the way that reading others’ experiences are helping me. Every one so similar, but also different. But some things just feel too awful to say out loud. And I worry about what you will think of me. Friends, family, professional colleagues. Do I keep this one to myself?

I am so afraid of your reactions that I am scheduling this post to be published May 7th, 2013 – one year from today. One year. So I can cancel it. So you won’t learn my secret, and think what I have wondered if I should think, which is that this is my punishment.

I continue to write this because I think it’s important to say it out loud, and really, I can not be the only one. I can not possibly be the only woman who has ever had to review her hospital pathology results and see this: G2P1A1L0.

It’s an obstetrical code, used to quickly describe a patient’s pregnancy history. G is the # of pregnancies you’ve had. L is the # of living children. P is the # you’ve birthed. And A is for abortion. It is also, in this setting, used to describe miscarriage, something which I can imagine is extremely upsetting for a large number of women who have lost some very wanted pregnancies. But in my case, A really is for abortion.

I would love to tell you that I was young and stupid because that is the cliche and that seems easier for people to understand and rationalize and justify than the truth, which is that I was married and financially stable and not sure I even wanted children and, mostly, terrified that I would die if I continued the pregnancy. In light of what’s happened, everything I say sounds in my mind like justification, so I’ll just stick with facts.

I found out that I was pregnant the first time because I got a blood clot. Really. I’m not an idiot, I just had no other reason to suspect. Since I can’t take birth control pills, I had a copper IUD. 99.4% effective in preventing pregnancy. My cycles are overly long, so it wasn’t unusual that it had been two months. Why would I think I was pregnant? So what happened was, I got my wisdom teeth out, and promptly developed a blood clot in my upper arm from the IV. And I’d had my blood checked after my first blood clot, and the doctor had determined that my blood clots like everyone else’s *so long as there is no extra estrogen in my body.*

So my mom was driving me back from the hospital, and she said, rhetorically, “why would you have gotten a blood clot?” And I said, unthinking, “I don’t know, unless I’m pregnant.” And then I got this feeling in the pit of my stomach, because for several weeks my stomach had been so off that I had wondered if I had a serious illness, and I knew it had been months since my period. But I thought, there’s NO WAY. 99.4%! How comforting statistics like that can be, but all it really means to me now is that someone gets pregnant. Six someones, in fact, out of every 1000 women using it.

This wasn’t told to me then, so I can not use it as my excuse, but I was told before this pregnancy, that if I got a blood clot even on the injections prior to 12 weeks, medically, they would recommend terminating the pregnancy, because it would not be safe for me to be on the shots that long or to have an existing clot in my body as my estrogen level began to shoot through the roof.

And another, non-medical fact: We weren’t ready to have a child. I wasn’t sure if I even ever wanted to have a child, at that point. We were 24, we’d been married two months, and it wasn’t your happy, newlywed typical two months. And I was 100% sure I never wanted to be pregnant, ever.

Taking the pregnancy test was easy, so sure was I back then that 99.4% was synonymous with 100%. If you have a weird, lengthy cycle and are overly paranoid/responsible, you have taken your share “just to be sure.” I always bought the digital kind, because I loved the definitive NOT that shows up. But that day, all that showed up was PREGNANT. It was, at the time, the single worst moment of my entire life, and looking back on it, it’s still pretty high up there. Which is really saying something, now.

The next week of my life was the first time I really understood what it means to be pro-choice. I didn’t know what we would do, but I was immediately overwhelming grateful that the decision was ours to make. We had as many reasons to continue the pregnancy as we had reasons to run terrified from it. It was never cut and dry. I can look back on it and see another universe where we made a different choice, it was that close, but in the end, the fact was that I thought I was going to die if I carried a child. That was my truth, and Dan knew it too, and that was really the bottom line for us.

And so we made a choice, one that Dan wouldn’t have made but supported me in doing, and I thought at the time it was the hardest thing we’d ever have to do in our marriage. There were some dark days. There were resentments on both sides. There were fights. We found our way out of it, and it may sound awful to say it, but the fact is that I never regretted it. I have been wistful, and I think about who that baby might have been on his/her would-be due date, and I think it was a sad, terrible choice to have to make, but I never actually regretted it.

Until we were in the hospital, and every doctor who came in asked me if I’d ever had any surgery on my cervix, and how can you not then think, oh god, what if this is my punishment. And every doctor said oh no, an abortion at 7 weeks wouldn’t cause this, but the seed was planted, and within me it grows.

So the short facts are: we were not even remotely ready, and medically, it really was not safe, but still we made a choice, and now, I sit and wonder almost daily if that choice is the reason that we’ve lost Amy.

One more fact, though, and I think it’s an important one: I can never know for certain, but I don’t think there would have ever been a second pregnancy, if it weren’t for the first. It, too, planted a seed, one that kept me wondering. About what our life would be like with a child in it. About whether I could actually get to a place emotionally where I could take those risks. And that kept us talking about it, until one day we landed in this place where we both embraced the whole thing with open arms. Until then, that was an experience I’d closed off to myself, and I’m not sure I ever would have opened the box had it not been opened for me.

 

This Is Not Okay June 13, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — elegyforamy @ 1:28 am

I think this is going to be a rough few weeks for me. I’m so, so glad we rebooked our canceled trip to Costa Rica; it is a bright spot to look forward to, to look past all of the landmines.

Everyone I talk to who’s been there says the grieving goes like this, not a steady, straight, ever-improving line, but more of a scatter plot, some days great, some days awful, most just plodding slowly along towards the end goal. And it’s gotten easier as we’ve gotten farther away from the actual event, the shock. But now it’s getting harder again, as we come up on all these little end of pregnancy milestones. As the people who were pregnant with me move on to the life-after-baby phase of their lives – the hearts-and-flowers version, not the gothic novel version that we got – I am acutely, painfully aware of what we’ve lost.

In the next 6 weeks, we have to get through:

My birthday. Originally I assumed I’d be celebrating with an unholy amount of cake and the discomfort of being 35 weeks pregnant, counting down the last couple of Lovenox shots. Now, there may still be cake, but what else? People asking what I want for my birthday. I’m not sure I could care less. The only thing I really want is clearly not going to be forthcoming.

June 28th – 36 weeks. The day I was supposed to switch to the shorter-term heparin shots, 2-3x/day, in a nod to the fact that I could go into labor at any moment. If only. June 28th was the promised land. I said over and over, the baby could come anytime she wanted after that.

July 12th – 38 weeks. The date I tentatively would have been induced. They said they might delay it a bit if things were going fantastically, but all along we kind of knew sometime that week, we’d be having a baby.

July 26th. Last, but not least. Our sweet daughter’s due date, which I imagine will be forever emblazoned in my mind, along with her tragically far off birth date.

When they sent me to L&D from the OB’s office, I was crying kind of desperately, and by the time I arrived, I had quieted down mostly. Until they handed me the intake form, and on it was a space for “Today’s Date,” where I printed, 3/30/12. And below it, I saw the space for “Due Date,” and I saw today’s date, and I knew. This is not okay. This is not okay. Today’s Date was 3/30/12, and my due date was nearly 4 months later, and the crying began anew.

So it’s nice to have the distraction of July 29th, the day we fly to Costa Rica, to take the trip we would have taken if I hadn’t ended up being 14 weeks pregnant at the time. The trip that will hopefully be the last we’re able to take before we sign back up for another round of pregnancy russian roulette and then, if we are very lucky, are too busy with a newborn baby to be thinking of resorts in foreign countries.

It’s nice to have the distraction, but in the mean time, it’s hard not to be sad, as the birth announcements start to roll in.

 

Sharing Amy June 11, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — elegyforamy @ 8:47 pm

We’re sort of at the point now where there’s not much new to say about losing our daughter. It’s sad, and every day, we’re just learning to live with that. I can’t imagine it will ever be okay, it just is. It’s something terrible that happened, to us, and our friends and family, and Amy. Our first child, she’ll always have died, in the most unfair way. We’ll always be parents to a child who was never really here as far as most people are concerned.

This past Saturday was supposed to be my baby shower. There aren’t many more milestones like that, dates indelibly etched in my mind as being something very, very different than what they are supposed to be. June 9th. My friend picked the date out months early in hopes that some of my friends who live across the country would have time to plan to attend. So, on June 9th, I was supposed to be 33 weeks pregnant, eating cake and celebrating with my friends and family this amazing child we were about to bring into the world. It might have been a pretty sad day, but a couple of my friends flew into town to see me, anyway, and we had a very nice day, anyway.

And I got to share Amy with them. I have pictures of her, things we got at the hospital, and I love those pictures and those things, fiercely. But they are also very sad, and looking at them is so bittersweet. Here is my daughter, whom I loved just like everyone says you will, more than I would have thought possible. Who I miss, more than I thought possible. I love those pictures though, anyway. I’ve never shared them with anyone who wasn’t in the delivery room with us, partly because I never want anyone to see them and think they’re awful. But mostly because I’m not really sure what is the best way to ask someone if they want to see pictures of your dead baby.

But they let me share her pictures with them, and it was sad, but it also made me happy. Thankful. That other people have seen her, her tiny face, her tiny fingers. That she’s more real, now, to someone other than me.