Stuck

I’ve been staring at my computer screen all morning trying to think of something to write. I know I don’t HAVE to post daily, but it’s that whole routine thing again that’s forcing me to come up with something.

I guess part of the reason I’m so stuck is that I’m tired of being so sad. I’m tired of sobbing every time I type, and I’m tired of writing what is probably the most depressing blog on the internet. The thing is, I just don’t have anything really happy to write about at the moment, and it’s not like I can just turn off the sadness. I could post that we’re doing a little better, and we’ve actually managed to laugh several times a day, although I think the crying fits are still outnumbering the giggling fits. I could post that Dave is starting to get back to getting on my nerves in the good old way that he did Before (I swear, this is a good sign), and I’m probably back to getting on his nerves in the good old way that I did Before. Things are start to feel a little bit back to normal, but normal has a totally different meaning now. It kind of reminds me of what the NICU was like, though. Today might be relatively good, but that doesn’t mean tomorrow won’t knock us on our asses.

I’m close to finishing Jillian’s blanket. I have 15 rows left to knit. I’m kind of nervous about finishing it. It is very likely that I will have a meltdown as I finish it and weave in the ends. Right now, the blanket is a connection to her, and I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with my hands once I finish it. I have other projects to work on, but none of them will ever mean as much to me as this blanket does.

When we were still planning to have Jillian buried, we were going to bury her with it, but now that we’re having her cremated instead, we’ll be keeping the blanket. I hope we’ll be able to give it to her younger brother or sister someday.

Saturday

Dear Jilliian,

Happy two-week birthday, love. We’re still getting by. I guess we’ve been a little better this week, but some days have been pretty bad. I’ve been very angry this week. I’m angry about the unfairness of all of this. It’s not fair that two people who have so much love to give were robbed of the one thing they wanted more than anything in the world. I know there are a lot of people who feel the same way, even if their circumstances are totally different, and that’s part of what makes me so angry. It’s just not fair for anyone.

When I woke up yesterday morning, I swore that I could feel you. It was like you rolled over and then kicked with all your might. It made me so happy, like it always did, and then I remembered. I guess I must have been dreaming. Another morning this week, I came into the living room and could hear a baby crying. I thought it might be coming from the neighbors’ place, but no matter how high I turned up the volume on the TV, I couldn’t drown it out. I’m guessing that was my imagination. Our social worker at the hospital warned us that it would be totally normal to hear babies crying (or even imagine seeing you), but that didn’t make it any less weird or upsetting.

We had our new appliances installed this week. We ordered them Before (our lives are now in three compartments: Before, During, and After. As scared as we were, During is the only period I like). I can’t look at the dishwasher. All I can think about when I see it are the handprints you were supposed to start leaving all over it in a couple of years.

I can’t phrase it any other way. This sucks.

I’ve been talking to you a lot, and I keep telling myself that you can hear me. Sometimes it’s like you’re still inside me. Well, I guess you are. You’re now in my heart instead of my belly.

We miss you, Jilly, and love you more than anything in the world. You’re still our favorite baby ever.

Love,
Mommy

Appointment update

On our way to my appointment this morning, I was thinking to myself that everyone in the office was going to think I was weird because I wasn’t crying. Then we pulled into the parking garage. All of the sudden, memories of our last appointment came flying at me. We had just had our “big” ultrasound, and Dave and I were in complete shock. After 14 weeks of being 100% certain that Wham Bam (what we called Jillian until we had a name) was a boy, we had just learned that she was actually a girl. As all of those memories surfaced (it was only two months ago, but it feels like a lifetime ago), I knew that going in for my appointment was going to be extremely difficult, and I didn’t have to worry about anyone thinking I was weird for not crying anymore.

I spoke with one of the nurses from the office last week and had already made arrangements for me to be taken straight to an exam room, thankfully. The nurse practitioner, who has been one of my favorite people in the office for a long time, came in, hugged me, and let me cry. And cry. And cry. She spent a long time with us, and answered as many questions as she could. Unfortunately, like we knew would probably happen, there are no answers for why my water broke. Everything looked normal, including my placenta. The only abnormalities detected are consistent with someone who has had a c-section. There were no signs of infection. In a way, I was glad to hear it, because I was afraid that I would hear it was an infection, caused by something stupid like the feta I didn’t bother to completely pick off my pasta salad on my flight home the night before my water broke. On the other hand, I kind of wanted to hear it was something like an infection, a fluke that I wouldn’t really need to worry about with my next pregnancy.

She told us that I would not be considered high risk for my next pregnancy, and while they will do anything they can to make me feel more assured the next time, even if that means going in there every week (Dave and I already started the plans for moving into an exam room next time), it didn’t sound like there’s anything they can do to make sure things are normal the next time. My cervix was totally fine at my 18 week ultrasound. She said I should definitely set up a consultation with the high risk doctor in the practice, and I have a feeling we’re going to set up consultations with other high risk doctors before we start trying again. Even though we’re probably never going to have any answers, and it’s likely that nobody will ever be able to put us at ease about future pregnancies, I still want to do some answer shopping first.

We asked about trying again, and she initially said one year. That went over like a lead balloon. As I sat there sobbing, I was making plans in my head to start phone calls to get a second opinion before we were even out the door. Fortunately, she took care of the second opinion for us, and we’ve now been told to wait six months. Because I will not be allowed to go into labor (well, hopefully) and will have a scheduled c-section, the risk from my uterus tearing during labor is lower, so she and an OB in the practice agreed we could start trying again in six months. Obviously, we may get to six months and decide we’re not ready to try again (being pregnant again is my new biggest fear), but we’ll see. I feel better with a six month wait. One year just seems too far away.

So, that’s that. I guess the good news is that we weren’t told not to try again. The nurse practitioner is going to speak with the OB who did my c-section to verify that everything looked normal (there wasn’t anything in the report) and we’ll go back in four weeks, but I guess the appointment went as well as could be expected.

On another topic, if you’ve sent me an email in the past few days and I haven’t responded, I’m sorry. I know nobody is expecting me to write back right away, but I still feel bad about not responding. I promise I’m not trying to shut anyone out, and I do appreciate everyone’s emails, but the energy it takes me to write back is a little more than I can muster most of the time. I’ll write back soon, and I promise, despite everything, I’m okay.

Looking ahead

Some things have surprised me since Jillian died. I initially thought that I would feel overwhelming anguish at the sight of a pregnant woman or a baby. Oddly enough, I feel like I’ve barely seen any pregnant women since I had Jillian, and seeing babies has actually made me feel better. As I said to a friend over email the other day (after I asked her about her pregnancy, and she told me not to feel like I had to ask), talking and hearing about babies gives me hope. I guess seeing them does, too.

While I know having a baby will never fill the hole that was left in my heart by Jillian’s death, the only thing that gives me the strength to keep breathing is the hope that someday, somehow, we will have a healthy baby. I really DO want to hear about others’ pregnancies and kids. Don’t get me wrong, if a friend came over for dinner and shouted in front of a group of people that she’s expecting, there’s a 97% chance I’d have a total meltdown (so please, if you’re planning on announcing a pregnancy to me any time soon, please be gentle), but I’m more afraid that people are going to avoid telling me (or just avoid me totally).

I have to believe that someday we’ll have more kids. I have to believe that someday, I’ll be able to tell our other kids about their beautiful big sister Jillian, and that we’ll be able to tell Jillian that we made it, and we’re finally happy again, just like we promised.

I have my first post-op appointment tomorrow at my OB’s office, and my biggest fear is that we’re going to walk in there tomorrow and be told that I should not attempt to ever get pregnant again. I specifically remember the doctor telling me after the c-section that everything looked healthy (uterus, tubes, ovaries, etc.) but that doesn’t ease my fears much. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Plans

We went to the funeral home yesterday, expecting to plan Jillian’s funeral. Instead, we decided not to have a funeral. I think everything changed for me when I saw the coffin/casket. It looked like a cheap, plastic piece of crap. It reminded me of a kiddie pool, except it was tan instead of blue. The funeral director assured us it was durable, but it didn’t look durable and it was probably one of the ugliest things I’ve ever seen. I refuse to put my child into something I wouldn’t use as a litter box for all of eternity.

I don’t know why this prompted us to change back to cremation (we obviously could have ordered another casket), but somehow this planning process made us to decide to keep her with us instead. We came home and ordered a pretty silver urn, and made the decision not to have a memorial service. We may do something down the road, but right now, it doesn’t feel right. We would only be having a service out of feeling like that’s what we’re supposed to do. We’re not religious, so I don’t feel a need to do it in that respect. While we obviously want to honor her, I feel like we’re doing that in our own way.

We’ve also made arrangements with the hospital for donations to be made to the NICU in Jillian’s name. If anyone out there would like the info, please send me an email.

We received our images from our Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep photographer this morning. We’re very thankful to have them, but it was very difficult to look at them. I don’t think we’ll ever be sharing them with anyone. There is at least one we’re planning to have framed, but beyond that, I think they’re going to be something we’ll keep just between us.

God, I miss her so much. I woke up feeling like today was going to be a better day, but so far, it’s been worse.

Maybe I’ll be ready someday

I was having trouble coming up with something to write today (I know it would be okay for me to skip a day, but it’s kind of become part of my daily routine, and I’m nervous to alter my routine at this point), so I thought I’d post a picture of Jillian instead.

I resized a copy of her first picture because I didn’t want the full-sized image out there for all the world to see (or take), and when I started to post it, I couldn’t do it. I don’t know what’s stopping me. I suppose part of it is for the same reason I resized it. I guess I want to protect that picture, and in a way, protect Jillian. I feel like there are so few ways I can protect her now, and one of the only things I can do is not post her pictures here. The other part of this is that I’m just not ready to share. It’s not for protection, it’s just some part of my brain that wants to keep her pictures all to ourselves.

I did post her picture previously for some friends to see, but it was different then. She was still alive. Everything was different then.

Another day

So.

I feel like that’s all I have to say right now. I guess I’m just kind of numb at the moment. Well, numb with a dash of wanting to take a sledgehammer to our walls, scream at the top of my lungs, and cry until I just can’t anymore (which I thought I had already done, but I keep proving that it is possible to cry even more).

We’re going to the cemetery to pick out a plot today. It’s quite a contrast to the shopping trip two weeks ago to pick out a crib. I’d always planned on having myself cremated, so I initially thought I’d want the same for Jillian, but Dave and I decided that we’d rather have a place we can visit, and we want her body to be buried there (as opposed to ashes).

I’m working furiously right now on a blanket that I was knitting for her before all this happened. My goal was to bring her home from the hospital with it, so I thought I had plenty of time to finish it. My goal now is to bury her with it. Every stitch feels like a stab in my heart, but I need her to have something from me with her. A blanket seems so miniscule in comparison to what I would actually give her, but I know that nothing I could give her would bring her back. Hopefully this blanket will at least be a small comfort for both of us.

I’ve lost love ones in my life, but never anyone as close as Jillian. I’ve thought about how painful it must be when others have lost spouses or children, and I’ve always been frightened by the finality of death. I could not imagine losing someone so special, so important, and knowing that once that person is gone, he or she is gone forever. Now that I’ve experienced such a loss myself, I know that the pain and finality is at least a thousand times worse than I ever imagined.

I’m still waiting to wake from sleep with a kick from the inside, and to feel the relief from “it was only a dream” wash over me. I’m still waiting for the phone to ring with a call from the hospital, telling us that they’ve made a terrible mistake, and Jillian is still there, still fighting. I know that neither of those things are going to happen, and I’m trying to accept that, but these fantasies are so much easier to take.

Fly, fly, precious one.

Fly – Celine Dion

Fly, fly little wing
Fly beyond imagining
The softest cloud, the whitest dove
Upon the wind of heaven’s love
Past the planets and the stars
Leave this lonely world of ours
Escape the sorrow and the pain
And fly again

Fly, fly precious one
Your endless journey has begun
Take your gentle happiness
Far too beautiful for this
Cross over to the other shore
There is peace forevermore
But hold this mem’ry bittersweet
Until we meet

Fly, fly do not fear
Don’t waste a breath, don’t shed a tear
Your heart is pure, your soul is free
Be on your way, don’t wait for me
Above the universe you’ll climb
On beyond the hands of time
The moon will rise, the sun will set
But I won’t forget

Fly, fly little wing
Fly where only angels sing
Fly away, the time is right
Go now, find the light

A letter to Jillian

Dear Jillian,

Happy one-week birthday, monkey. Daddy and I are getting by. We miss you so much that it’s unbearable, but we’re trying to stay strong. If nothing else, your life has brought us even closer together, and reminded us how incredibly lucky we are to have each other. And they say only weirdos marry strangers from the internet.

We’ve been sleeping with your blanket every night, and sometimes we bring it to the couch while we’re watching TV. It probably seems pretty silly that two adults are sleeping with a pink baby blanket, but it’s a comfort to have something of yours with us. We’ve also looked at your pictures a lot, and we talk about you constantly.

When I’m feeling really sad (which has been pretty constant), I try to cheer myself up by thinking of one of my favorite moments with you. One of the times we were visiting you in the NICU, you pulled one of the leads off your chest. The nurse put it back on, and you immediately pulled it off again. She put it on again, this time in a different spot (trying to fool you, apparently) and turned around to write something on your chart. As soon as she turned around, your tiny hand went straight to that cord, and off came that lead. Oh, Jilly, we laughed so hard. As much as I wanted you to keep the lead on, I had never been so proud of someone. You were certainly mine.

In other news, Sox tickets go on sale today. We’re not going to be buying any today. At our last game together (the abysmal Game 3 of the ALDS; I’m sorry you had to witness that), Daddy and I told you about all the games we were going to take you to next summer. We planned to take you to some day games, with you wrapped against us. Man, we couldn’t wait to show Fenway to you, even though you would have been too little to understand what was going on. Hopefully, by the time the season starts, we might feel like going to games again, but right now, the thought of being there without you just hurts too much. It shows that everything is a reminder.

We love you so much, sweetheart. Even though this has been the worst experience of my life, you are, by far, the best thing that has ever happened to me. I am so proud of you for trying so hard, and I will never stop missing you. I love you.

Love,
Mommy

A Dream

I was at a symphony, still pregnant, wearing the grey maternity dress I was about to put on when my water broke. I looked at my ticket, and started the ascent into the nosebleeds. The walk seemed to take forever, and my whole body hurt as I climbed. I finally got to the top, and I handed my ticket to the usher. He shook his head, told me he was sorry, I’d come up the wrong way, and pointed over the balcony. I would have to go down to the bottom and start over.

I woke up sobbing in a cold sweat. I don’t need a dream interpreter to figure that one out. It’s better than the nightmares I’ve been having (I’ve mostly been reliving my c-section in my sleep), but it still makes me sadder than anything else in the world.

I got out of bed this morning, because, well, I don’t know why. I didn’t feel like lying there with my hands on my again flat belly. Then again, I didn’t feel like going into the bathroom to look in the mirror to see the only evidence Jillian ever existed: an ugly wound across my abdomen and aching, engorged breasts that leak useless milk every time I cry. So I made myself get up. I’ll probably have to make myself get up for a very long time. I wish I could find something to look forward to, but I can’t come up with anything. Everything is a reminder that I should have still been pregnant then, or we should have had a newborn around then, or we should have had an infant around then. I’m feeling like I will never be able to do anything again without being reminded of the little girl who should be there, too.

I have a million thoughts running through my mind, and none of them are good. As much as I try to focus on all the love we’ve received from friends, family, and strangers, it’s tainted with the knowledge that we need this support because we’ve just had our hearts smashed into a million pieces. I know we’re not the first people to go through this experience, and I wish we could be the last, but I do know from other members of this shitty club that it will get better. Somehow, someday. I wish I could just sleep dreamlessly until that day comes.