Elegy for Amy

6w4d October 31, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — elegyforamy @ 5:18 pm

I feel like I’ll remember this week as the one I spent waiting for the other shoe to drop. The spotting continues blithely on, and despite my best rationalizations, it’s so hard not to be concerned. It’s so early, you just never really know, for sure, that you’re still pregnant.

But I was spotting, and I had that ultrasound, and everything looked excellent. A visible heartbeat at 5w6d is a great thing. Everything measuring appropriately for gestational age. And the spotting hasn’t gotten worse, so I’ve maintained a positive outlook. I ordered a pregnancy calendar and a couple of maternity sweaters. And I eagerly await Friday’s follow-up ultrasound.

So it’s not like I am sitting around thinking the worst, but it’s more like, I don’t know, it wouldn’t surprise me? Devastate, but not surprise, despite all my optimism and excitement. I’m expecting to go in Friday and hear that everything looks great, but if I hear something else, I won’t be shocked.

Which is a weird place to be.

I’m afraid to open the box with the sweaters. Or write the dates into the calendar. I don’t want to do anything permanent.

And yet, I woke up this morning feeling so incredibly ill that I’m surely still pregnant. And perspective being what perspective is, my reaction, at feeling so terrible, was joy. Not to look at the calendar and figure out when it might end, but joy, and even relief. To feel about 2 seconds away from puking, I am happy and relieved.

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The Moment

Filed under: Uncategorized — elegyforamy @ 3:22 pm

About a month ago, I downloaded Half Baked: the Story of My Nerves, My Newborn, and How We Both Learned to Breathe onto my Kindle; it was a mere $3 and the description said it was about a woman coping with a preemie in the NICU after a difficult pregnancy. I am a preparedness type, and while I am obviously hoping to skip the NICU, it would be less than realistic of me to deny that there is a distinct possibility of my having a baby prior to 36 weeks, and I thought it might be good to read a real-life experience.

The summary did not really reveal the entire story, which is the author, pregnant with twins, finds out around 20 weeks that one of the twins has died in utero. Several weeks later, she goes into preterm labor likely as a result of this, spend 3 weeks on hospital bedrest trying to stop labor until giving birth to her son (deceased) and her daughter at just over 25 weeks gestation. So this woman’s story is more or less two stories – one which┬áparallels┬ámy own in eerie fashion, and a second which is probably very much like what my story would have been had we been able to stave off labor for an extra week.

I’m not sure I would have chosen to read this, at this point in time, had I realized, but once I started, I felt compelled to finish. That the author describes herself as basically, well, ME, does not help with the creepy similarities, and reading this before bed led to dreams all night of Amy as a micropreemie in the NICU.

So I’m reading along this morning, and there is a paragraph that struck me particularly, although the entire book is filled with sentences I’ve underlined because I could have written them, but this it was that anyone who has ever had a child die or come close can tell you exactly where they were and what they were doing when they realized this. That I can tell you this has never struck me as particularly odd since, unlike the Kennedy assassination, what you were doing the moment before you realize your 23 week old fetus is not going to make it is typically, you know, hanging out in a hospital, trying not to have a baby. Any additional clarity gained seem more than likely a product of not being on magnesium for the first time in days.

But actually, she’s right. I remember every moment, every gesture, every word, when I realized Amy would die. It had certainly crossed our minds previously as a possibility, I mean, any time the sound of the “baby is born” chime or a new baby crying down the halls makes you roll your eyes and hate the person holding that baby, it’s pretty safe to assume death is on the table. But so was life. No one knew, not even the doctors, so we hoped, but we were aware.

But in the wee hours of the morning, our room still pitch black except for the glow of the uterine contraction monitor that we’d both taken to staring at entreatingly, practically praying to it, really, I knew four things:

1. I was 23 weeks and 5 days gestation.
2. We had signed a DNR for our daughter if she was born before 24 weeks gestation.
3. The neonatalogist told us there was virtually a 0% chance of a baby younger than 24 weeks gestation, or really even 26 weeks, surviving without resuscitation.

And, 4. I was in labor, and nothing could be done any longer to stop it.

Which meant, our baby was going to die. But I didn’t want to give up hope prematurely, so I remember very clearly that I was lying on my left side, and Dan was sitting in a chair right across from me, holding my hand, and I asked him, in the very softest of voices so as not to tempt fate, “Is our baby going to die?”

And I remember very clearly that he squeezed my hand, and that he was crying too, and he nodded and said that she was. And then he said that we’d done everything we could. That I’d done such a good job. That we would be okay.

And then I started crying and I don’t think I stopped until after she was born, 45 minutes later. I can’t imagine not remembering this moment, so here it is, forever.

 

5w6d October 26, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — elegyforamy @ 8:39 pm

Had a little excitement around here today, but in the end, all is very well.

Last night before bed I noticed the absolute, most miniscule amount of spotting, barely even worth dignifying with the term spotting. And reminded myself to breathe, that I had some early spotting with Amy, that more than likely everything was fine, and went to sleep. And then this morning, there was more, still practically nothing but enough to at least call spotting, and I promptly flipped right the hell out and called my OB, who said it was probably nothing and that it was probably too early for them to do an ultrasound and see anything that would confirm one way or another.

At which point dead baby mom kicked in and I got teary and tried very hard not to sound like I was crying but I know that I did, I did sound like I was about to cry because I kind of was. I just. It’s early, it wouldn’t be as bad, but there’s really kind of a limit to the number of babies I can handle losing, you know? I need this to go a little better, this time, if at all possible.

And the nurse said she’d check with the doctor and then came back and said I should go ahead and come in for an ultrasound this afternoon, so I spent the morning moping and feeling queasy and distracting myself with sitcom reruns, waiting for my appointment.

The ultrasound was awesome. The ultrasound was everything I dared not to expect. We have a tiny embryo in there, in a tiny sac, with a tiny yolk sac, and, get this, a tiny heartbeat, snuggled in tight at the top of my uterus right where they want it to be, measuring a day ahead of where we thought we were. So, I went in for hysterical spotting, and came out with 5 pictures of our very much alive NewBaby, one less day of pregnancy to conquer, and already officially out of the treacherous zone of early miscarriages where heartbeats or yolk sacs never quite develop.

And at lunch, afterwards, food never tasted so good.

 

All Clear October 23, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — elegyforamy @ 8:45 pm

Inhale. Exhale. Breathe.

At my completely normal, completely uneventful doctor’s appointment on Friday, I was all set to ask her if she could check me for infection, just in case. Because I had an infection when Amy was born, and no one can say which came first, so it could just as easily have caused her death as it could have been a result of my water being broken for several days prior to delivering, and a dead baby mom is nothing if not hypervigilant and paranoid.

And I loved my OB just a little bit more when she came in and suggested we take some cultures, just in case. I don’t have to be the crazy dead baby mom if you anticipate my every paranoia.

And there was no reason to think I have an infection now, but as soon as she did it, I think I started holding my breath a little bit. Waiting for the phone to ring. Cringing at every cramp. Begging this baby to stay alive before going to sleep. I was suddenly more afraid than I had been, waiting for the other shoe to drop. I didn’t even really notice.

And then it didn’t drop. They called this afternoon, and all of my cultures came back “totally normal.” I have no infection of any kind. And this huge exhale, this huge relief, a weight off I didn’t even realize I had put on. Everything is still okay. And now, with NewBaby, I’ll never have to wonder if I started out with some kind of unknown infection. Every small thing I don’t have to regret, every “what if” I know I’ll never have to have, that’s the only control there is, now, so I embrace these things and try to let go of all the things I can’t control.

So now I’m 5 weeks, 2 days pregnant, and so far, so good. Weird good, even. With Amy, I immediately felt off a lot of the time, not full on nauseous until 6 weeks, but very off. Eating was a chore most days. I was tired a lot. And the sore boobs, whoa. So bad. The entire time, the sore boobs. With NewBaby, it will be something miniscule here and there, and I go to bed by 10 most nights, but I feel oddly…fine. And I know there’s still plenty of time to gather pregnancy discomforts, but for now everything is oddly good. It’s disconcerting in my anxiety moments, but mostly it’s a blessing. It makes it a lot easier to maintain a positive outlook, an excited feeling. When you feel like death warmed over day after day, you start staring bleakly at the weeks that stretch before you, so for now I’m grateful that I don’t have to do that.

 

Mitigating Small Disasters October 22, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — elegyforamy @ 5:37 pm

5 weeks, 1 day, and so far, so good. So far, I am mostly excited punctuated by terror every time I feel a cramp. Please, can this baby live? It seems like it shouldn’t be too much to ask.

Optimism and excitement are one thing, but I am nothing if not realistic. Here is a list of pregnancy precautions I am taking to mitigate the only bits I can, in the event things go south:

– No registries. None. I know there will be a point later where I feel okay about making one, but I don’t know when it will be, and it sure isn’t going to be in the first trimester. Deleting my registry was sad; the whole thing seemed so hopelessly naive after the fact. Monkey shoes? This was my big concern?

– No handknits, for now. Baby handknits are adorable. They are quick to make and oh, so precious. And every moment you are knitting them, you are imagining the baby within you, outside of you, wearing them. Which makes them infinitely heartbreaking if that baby turns out to never need them. Not to mention the tragic juxtaposition between how tiny, how wee you thought they were when you knit them, joking with your husband on the couch about how you were going to be in charge of something SO TINY; and how big they would have been on her tiny, extremely premature body in the end.

– No furnishings of any kind. I avoided this last time and was glad for it later. The Jews do it right, I think. There is so much time for these things later. And if the baby comes before 36 weeks, you’re not taking it home right away even in the best of circumstances. So maybe we can buy a crib or something as a 36 week, cerclage removal celebration.

– No Babies R Us. Probably ever. Too many memories of how clueless we were.

– No online shopping at maternity or baby stores. Many of them sell your information to dozens of baby companies, and one minute you’re buying leggings and 7 months later formula is showing up in the mail for your dead baby. If I need maternity or baby items, it’s in-person, cash-only transactions. One exception: Old Navy Maternity, who was also very good about stopping my e-mails last time.

– No telling strangers, random acquaintances, or people with whom I conduct business transactions. I imagine at some point the jig will be up on this and people will ask, but I am not volunteering this information. Untelling people you don’t actually know is horrible. As is worrying about awkward conversations to the point of changing dentists (did this), hair stylists (did not do this), and local eateries (avoided for months).

Now I feel like this sounds neurotic. I don’t feel that neurotic when I’m doing it.

 

Missing You October 19, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — elegyforamy @ 2:34 pm

Dear Amy,

Today is our first doctor’s appointment for your baby brother or sister. Last night, falling asleep, thinking of this new baby, I was so filled with missing you that I very nearly took the jewelry box containing your ashes to bed with me. Really, the only reason I didn’t was that I wondered if your father would think I’d gone completely insane.

We’re so excited for NewBaby, so hopeful that this time around things will be different. But I can’t help but remember how it felt to be pregnant with you, the things that were different, the things that were the same. And I’m sad that your new sibling will never get to meet you, not get to grow up with an older sister. I’m sad for all the things NewBaby will hopefully get to do that you never will.

And so nervous, because what if NewBaby doesn’t get to do them, either? So much of early pregnancy is blind faith – the test says I’m pregnant, so I assume that NewBaby is growing, happily and healthily, inside of me, until proven otherwise. Even once we get the first ultrasound, it’s all blind faith in between doctor’s visits, in between pictures on the screen proving there is a life in there. It’s all blind faith until the baby is big enough to feel, really.

And I fell asleep wondering what NewBaby would feel like, inside, because I know that most likely it won’t feel the same. When I remember falling asleep to your tiny kicks, that’s when the missing is the worst. I miss that, but that was ours. NewBaby and I will be different. Which makes me glad, but also makes me miss you, so much.

If you’re out there, somewhere, watching over us, just know that we always will.

Love,
Mom

 

Bleeder October 17, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — elegyforamy @ 1:53 pm

Well, it happened. (Don’t worry I’m still pregnant!) I was hoping to go a bit longer, but I knew it would happen eventually – injections, they are not fun, and even in my best frame of mind, sometimes, they totally suck.

I made it to Day 7 with nary a complaint. Seven days, seven injections, might seem like a decent showing to a normal person, but in my case, 7 represents a tiny fraction (slightly less than 1/40th, to be exact) of the injections a healthy, full-term pregnancy will bring me, so I really was hoping for longer. Like, 30. A month of taking my morning needle with pride, not whining.

With Amy, especially in the early days, I am embarrassed to admit how many mornings I cried through my injection, not even as much from the pain as the knowledge that in the best possible world there was a seemingly endless number of them still to come. (Had I only known how limited those days were.) I would become a petulant toddler, whimpering and I am loathe to admit this but I know I said on more than one occasion that I “hated the baby.” Which sure as hell wasn’t true, and we both knew it, but after she died? I can’t stand to think that I ever said that about her, not even once.

After she died, I had 6 more weeks of injections, and those were even worse because I remembered how I had acted about all the ones before, and I hated how these mornings were just like the mornings before, except now my daughter was dead, my daughter whom I very much loved and did not hate at all and would have gladly suffered an injection every day for the rest of my life for. I convinced the doctors to switch me to Coumadin after the first week, it was so depressing.

So this time around, I knew it would be different. The injections really are quite painful – the medication stings and burns as it goes in and for a while after, and depending on what you end up hitting they can leave some tender bruises. So “enjoying” them is not really possible, but I wanted not to complain. I wanted to feel grateful, each day, that these injections mean that I am once again and still pregnant, instead of dreading the time to come.

But yesterday’s injection was a bleeder. This happens from time to time, if you just happen to nick a superficial vein, it begins to bleed and it mixes with the blood thinning medication to create a mini horror show on your belly. Oh, and it hurts. A lot. And it bruises in the very painful way. And for a split second, in that moment, I was pissed I had to get this stupid shot, so mad! And then immediately guilty, for thinking that for even a moment. And now I feel like I have to pay some kind of penance, which I guess is admitting this on the internet.

But I am, still, pregnant. And for that, I really am grateful.