Welcome

Welcome to my new home. I needed a little more control, more tracking capabilities, etc. I originally moved because I needed the ability to make it private with more than 100 users, but because of the extra control I have now, it’s staying open.

It’s a little more cheerful than the old one in terms of appearance. When I was getting this thing set up yesterday, I started to make it look a lot like the old one, but I decided I needed a change. I’m trying to be more optimistic about the future, and happy colors help. I’m still trying to figure out certain things, like getting the blog header I actually want to work, but I’m new to using CSS so I haven’t figured it out. I apologize in advance if anyone shows up here and the page looks like someone took a sledgehammer to it. No worries; it’s just me breaking stuff because I can’t be bothered to read instructions.

High-Risk Consultation

My appointment was this morning. I think I was more nervous about this appointment than I was about my first ultrasound with Jillian, which I was having because of bleeding and cramping (meaning I was terrified). I was shaking while we were sitting in the waiting room. I was weighed when they took us back, where I learned that I gained 16 pounds between the time I woke up this morning and my appointment. Then Dave pointed out the cart that was on top of the scale. Phew. At least it made me forget about being so nervous.

I think part of my nervousness came from knowing that we were going to have to talk about what happened with Jillian. It actually was a lot easier than I expected. The doctor was nice and I feel comfortable with the plan that we have put in place, which is this:

I am having a 3-D ultrasound next week to double check the anatomy of my uterus. If there’s anything that needs to be fixed (that can be fixed), we’ll do that. If everything is normal, we can start trying in June, assuming we’re emotionally ready. She pointed out (and we already knew) that my next pregnancy will not be a starry-eyed, blissful journey. We’re both going to be scared out of our minds. Anyway, once I do get pregnant and it is established that it is a viable pregnancy, I will have a cerclage placed at 10-12 weeks. I will have either weekly or bi-weekly ultrasounds, and if there are any signs of my cervix changing, we will discuss progesterone shots and/or bed rest.

I feel much better about things. We don’t have to go answer shopping because we heard exactly what we wanted. I’m extremely nervous about next week’s ultrasound, just because I’m so down on my luck that I’m convinced they’ll see that my uterus is totally screwed up and I should not ever try to get pregnant again. I thought that it was enough that the doctor who performed my c-section said it looked normal, but the peri says we’ll get a better look while I’m not pregnant.

In other news, I fell down half a flight of stairs yesterday. I have a bruise the size of my right butt cheek on my right butt cheek. It certainly hurt, but my first thought was Oh, my god, the baby, which caused more tears than the actual fall. All three of my animals came running to me after it happened, which made me cry a little more, mainly because none of them like each other, but apparently they all like me enough to get within a couple feet of each other to make sure I was okay. Cats and dogs are the best.

Just a few updates

1. Jillian’s due date is one month from today. I’m having a very difficult time with this. My heart is aching about the fact that I’m supposed to be 36 weeks pregnant today. I have tried very hard not to think each Wednesday about how far along I’m supposed to be, but as her due date gets closer, it’s impossible not to think about it. I keep trying to remind myself that just because she was due March 24 doesn’t mean that she would have been born that day, but it doesn’t help. The instant I saw the line on that pregnancy test, I knew that March 24 would never be just a regular day for me again (I chart, so I knew before I even took the test what my due date would be if it happened to be positive). I thought it would be a day that bring happy thoughts about my first child. Instead, it’s a reminder of the heartache and pain I feel because my first child was born too far before her due date and is now gone forever.

2. My high risk consultation is on Friday. I’m so anxious about it that I could cry (and have already cried). I’m looking forward to it because it’s a step forward, but I’m terrified that we won’t hear what we want to hear (which just means we will look for another doctor, but the thought of having to find someone else totally overwhelms me).

3. I’m about 95% sure we’re naming the dog Baxter. Things are going pretty well, but I have a whole new understanding of separation anxiety (his, not mine).

4. If you’ve given me a blog award, I’m sorry I’m such a slacker and haven’t posted about it. My goal this week is to make a post with all of them. That’s my one goal for this week. That’s how high I’ve been setting my bar lately. Go ahead, roll your eyes at me. I just did.

Something happy

I’ve always been a dog person, despite the current evidence (two cats). We have been talking for years about getting one, but it hasn’t been possible. We couldn’t have one in our old apartment, and I was pregnant when we moved here, and we didn’t want to get a dog with the baby on the way.

After Jillian died, the dog conversation started up again, but we were hesitant to get one. I was afraid I’d resent the dog and think of it as a consolation prize. I also knew that getting a big dog would make it a little crowded in here, and I didn’t have any interest in a small dog. I figured that if we were going to get a small dog, we might as well get another cat instead, because then we wouldn’t have to walk it.

Then we met this guy:

I fell in love immediately. He became attached to me so quickly that there was no way we could leave the Humane Society without him. I think Dave and I both knew walking in that we were going to leave with a dog, because we’ve never gone into an animal shelter and walked out empty handed, but I didn’t expect to hold him and immediately think of him as my dog. He doesn’t have a name right now. He was called Benny at the shelter, but we want to change it.

My fears about resenting a dog or thinking of one as a consolation prize are gone. In my mind, there’s no connection between this dog and Jillian. If I really think about it, I know that if Jillian hadn’t died, this dog would not be here, curled up next to me, but that’s not what goes through my mind when I look at him. I just see a little dog who was desperate for love and has already made himself right at home.

Some people just need to stop talking

I went to the dentist today. I was supposed to go a couple of months ago, but I rescheduled it because I didn’t feel like going and explaining everything. I planned on telling whoever called to remind me of the appointment what happened with Jillian so I wouldn’t have to explain it in person, but nobody called to remind me and I completely forgot about it until last night. I had knots in my stomach because I didn’t want to have to explain it in person. My appointment wasn’t with my usual hygienist, which caused even more anxiety about going. I cried on the way there because I was so nervous.

As I was walking into the room, the hygienist asked if there have been any changes to my health since my last appointment. She apparently didn’t pick up on my lack of huge pregnant belly (I looked at my chart while she was taking my x-rays to be processed, and my EDD was the last note written on there). I took a deep breath and started to say, “I had my baby prematurely and she only lived for four days.” Instead, I only got out “I had my baby” before the hygienist interrupted me to exclaim her congratulations. I closed my eyes and said, “she died.” The hygienist said, “oh, I’m sorry,” like I’d just told her I’d stubbed my toe on the way in.

She then cheerfully asked me if I did anything fun for Valentine’s Day. Seriously, woman? I just told you my baby died and you want to chat about what I did for a piece of crap fake holiday? I should have answered truthfully, which would have been that I moped around the house all day because there’s no point in celebrating Valentine’s Day when my heart is missing, but I just said “no” and hoped she would shut up. Instead, she expressed sympathy for my lack of a nice dinner out or any other “fun” things. She was sorrier about that than she was about my dead baby.

I hate people sometimes.

Mail and Daydreams

We get mail for Jillian pretty regularly. Sometimes, it’s addressed to “Baby Girl L_,” because her name wasn’t entered into the system at the hospital yet. Most of it is now addressed to her. No matter how frequently we get mail for her, my heart always skips a beat when I see it. I think my attitude has changed about it, though.

Today, we got a couple of explanation of benefits statements from the insurance company. I wasn’t upset by them, which is a change. Normally, they cause a meltdown, but today, they made me smile. I don’t think jaw-dropping NICU charges normally make anyone smile, but I felt like these statements were proof that Jillian existed. I immediately became protective of them and wanted to ensure they didn’t accidentally end up in the shredding pile. I want to hold onto them, not for record-keeping purposes, but as a memento, like the snips of her hair and her footprints. Seeing her name printed on these statements shows that she wasn’t just a dream or a figment of our imaginations. She was a beautiful, living, fighting little girl.

I’ve been doing a lot of daydreaming since Jillian died, but lately it’s been about the future. I’ve been visualizing the birth of our next baby. I think about Dave and I both crying tears of happiness and relief, and being astounded at the seemingly enormous size of that baby (even if this imagined baby only weighs five pounds, he or she will be more than three times Jillian’s weight). I haven’t held another baby since I held Jillian, and I can’t imagine the weight. I’ve already started referring to our next baby as a “dinosaur baby,” because I am trying to convince myself that he/she will be full term and GIANT).

I also think about how sad we’ll be because Jillian won’t be there, and because that baby won’t know his or her amazing big sister. Sometimes, when I’m thinking about it, I worry that I’m setting myself up for disappointment in case it doesn’t happen, but looking forward to this is often my only reason for getting out of bed. I have to believe that somehow, we’ll eventually have another baby.

Not again

Yesterday, another poster on a message board I frequent lost her preemie son. His name is Aidan. He was born at 28 weeks and lived for eight days. He had a brain bleed, like Jillian.

The night that Aidan was born, I was on the phone with Dave (he was traveling) and I fell to my knees, sobbing. I could not bear the thought of another preemie, another potential loss, or another potential grieving mother. I begged someone, anyone, to let this baby live and spare these parents of the pain that Dave and I have been suffering.

When I first learned that he had suffered a hemorrhage, I wanted to find a way to fix him, but I obviously couldn’t. I tried to separate myself from the situation and not dwell on it. It brought too many memories back, and rubbed salt in my still fresh wounds. Instead, I couldn’t think about anything else. I tried everything to be hopeful, but finding hope so soon after Jillian’s death is easier said than done. Still, I begged the universe to let him live, and I started to believe that their story would be different.

His parents said goodbye to him yesterday. It is impossible not to have a flood of emotions return. My heart aches for that family. They’ll get through this, just like we have, but I’m so angry that this has happened again. I wish I could take their pain for them. It’s just so unfair.

Rest in peace, Aidan.

Two months

Dear Jillian,

Happy two-month birthday, love. It’s hard to believe that you made your entrance into this world two months ago. Sometimes it feels like yesterday, sometimes it feels like it was ages ago.

We’ve been doing okay, but some moments are so hard. Realizing that you’re really gone and won’t be returning is the hardest part. I think I was in such a state of shock for a while after you died that it hadn’t really sunk in, despite the heartbreak we were both feeling. We talked last week about how you have made us realize how strong our relationship is, and you’ve helped us to be better parents. Even though nobody will ever replace you, we hope to have another baby as soon as we can, and we know that you would want that for us. We’ll be better parents to that baby because of everything you taught us. You did so much for us in your short life. You changed us forever, for the better.

I’ve been thinking lately about whether or not I would have made different decisions if I had known how soon your life would end and how much pain your death would cause for Daddy and me. I know that we would have made the same choices because we wouldn’t want to have missed out on the time we had with you. The only thing that would change my thoughts on that is knowing that you may have been suffering and in pain, but the doctors and nurses did everything they could to make sure you were not in pain, so I’m comfortable with that. I’d do it all over again for the amazing experience of being your mother.

I wouldn’t be surviving this without your daddy. Sometimes I feel guilty about my pain causing more pain and worry for him, but we’re in this together, so it is what it is. Sometimes, when I see him from the side, I see a flash of you. It takes my breath away. Even though the nurses said you got my nose (thank goodness), I see your profile when I look at his, especially your chin. Sometimes I stare at his chin while he’s sleeping (I promise, it’s not as creepy as it sounds), and I lie there smiling as I remember you.

Every now and then, I sit here and imagine what would be happening if you were still here. I think about how big you would be and all of the progress you would have made by now. Sometimes it feels like I’m torturing myself, but the escape from reality warms my heart like nothing else. I also like to think about the actual time we had together. I can still feel your tiny fist near my neck as I held you, and I remember feeling like you were trying to burrow yourself into my skin. It’s amazing that the best and worst times of my life are all the same moments.

I love you with all my heart, Jilly bear. I will never stop missing you

Love,
Mommy

Distraction

I just realized that I haven’t posted anything since Friday. I was wondering if it was a sign that I’m making progress, but when I thought about it, I realized it has nothing to do with progress and everything to do with Super Mario Galaxy. It’s pretty much the only thing I do anymore. I don’t really think when I play, so it’s a nice distraction. I’m sure I’ll get sick of it eventually (I’m almost finished with my second time through the game), but I do feel like I need to find something else to distract me when that time comes.

Tonight is our last session with our support group. I’m kind of a mess about it ending. I’ve become so attached to some of the people in the group, and it’s unsettling to know we’re not going to see them every week. We’ve already made plans to get together in two weeks, but it still doesn’t feel like the same safety net it has been. My grief counselor said that the people in these groups tend to stay in touch, but I’m still nervous about saying goodbye to everyone tonight. We spoke last week about how we don’t really know anything about each other’s regular lives, but we know all the details about the most personal, devastating things that have ever happened to all of us. I realized last week that I have come to love their children, even though I never met any of them, and I feel like they all love Jillian. I hate that these people know our heartbreak so well, but I’m glad that we all joined this support group.