Changes

I quit my job yesterday. It was actually a lot more difficult than I expected it to be. I’ve been with my company (well, former company, I guess) for over eight years. I think it’s a fabulous company to work for, and I worked with some pretty wonderful people. I sobbed quite a bit after I hung up the phone with my boss yesterday, which caught me by surprise. I was so sure that I was making the right decision that I didn’t expect any tears. I’m going to truly miss a lot of my coworkers, and I took a lot of pride in working for the company, so I probably should have anticipated some mixed emotions.

I have known for a while that I would most likely be quitting, but I needed to give it more time to make sure it was the right choice. There are multiple reasons I decided to leave. The first part is my continued inability to concentrate. I just don’t have the ability to focus the way I know is necessary to do my job. I also know that I am far too fragile at this point to handle it. I knew that the first time (and possibly the first 70 times) someone argued with me, was pushy with me, or attempted to throw me under the bus, I’d be a puddle of tears. The third reason is I’m not willing to travel if I get pregnant again, which would make me unable to complete my job requirements. I also would probably quit immediately upon getting pregnant, and I’m hoping that will happen sooner rather than later, so I decided to just quit now.

There’s one other reason: it’s not what I want to do with my life. As much as I loved the company and the people I worked with, my career path wasn’t right for me. It wasn’t my dream, and when Jillian died, I realized that life is too short and too precious to do something that doesn’t bring happiness into my life. I’ve been a hobbyist chocolatier, and that’s what I want to do. I’ve decided to focus on creating a chocolate business.

It’s definitely risky, but if I don’t try it, I’m going to always wonder if I could have done it. There’s a part of me that worries about starting this and then getting pregnant, because even if I’m not on bed rest, being on my feet for hours at a time doesn’t seem like the best idea, but I’m just going to take it one day at a time and cross that bridge when I come to it. If I wait until after we’re finished having kids, I’ll probably be too busy with the kids, plus I think holding off because I want to get pregnant is just going to put more stress and pressure on me.

So, as of today, I have my dream job. I’m a chocolatier. Also, if anyone needs chocolates for weddings, parties, gifts, etc., you know where to find me. That will be the last shameless plug you’ll see here – promise.

Exhale

We made it through yesterday. It actually ended up being a very nice day for us. We didn’t really do anything all day other than spend the day together. It helped to know how many people were thinking of our family. Actually, that’s probably what got us through the day. Thank you, anyone who is reading this, for that.

In other news, I had the ultrasound on my uterus this morning. I felt sick to my stomach on our way there. Sitting in that waiting room wasn’t much fun. The anticipation in so many couples’ eyes was clear. We were like that not too long ago, and I miss that hopefulness.

When we went into our room, I recognized the technician from one of our ultrasounds with Jilly. I’m certain that she didn’t remember us, but I wouldn’t expect her to, especially because everything was so normal and routine at those ultrasounds.  She asked if I’d had a test or anything that showed there may be an abnormality. I felt like it took me an eternity to answer, and eventually I was able to tell her that our daughter was born at 24 weeks. I held back my tears until she left while I got undressed. I cried because I hadn’t prepared myself for having to answer any of those questions and I missed Jillian so much. I missed her so much at that moment that I forgot about being nervous about the ultrasound. It didn’t matter if we got good news or bad news – I just wanted Jillian.

Here’s the good news: according to the doctor, my uterus looks great. There’s no dip, no septum, and everything looks really good. I burst into tears as soon as he said it, so he was probably wondering what was up with the crazy woman who cried upon hearing something good, but that’s fine.  There is no bad news.

So I guess now we just wait. I’ve been fantasizing about the perinatologist calling and saying, “it looks good, so go ahead and start trying whenever you’re ready,” but I’m 99.98% sure that’s not going to happen.

As for now, I think I’m going to resume working on the sweater I had started knitting for Jillian to wear home from the hospital. I haven’t been able to even look at the yarn since we came home from the hospital without her. I’m hoping that someday, I will be able to show it to another daughter and tell her the story about how she got to wear her big sister’s sweater home from the hospital. After this morning’s results, I’m more comfortable with letting myself believe that this could actually happen.

March 24, 2010

So, here it is.  Jillian’s due date.  It’s a day that we once looked forward to more than any other day of our lives.  We knew that we would either be at home with a brand new baby girl, marveling at the amazing life we created, or in the process of wearing a ditch into our block’s sidewalk by walking back and forth, trying to get labor to start.  In an instant, on December 9, it became a day that will forever fill my soul with dread.  It is now a day that means more to me than any holiday or birthday, only overshadowed by Jillian’s birthday and the day of her death.  I know that for the rest of our lives, March 24 will remind us of the lives that are gone forever: not just Jillian’s, but also our own lives that existed until the moment our precious daughter slipped way.

I remember a few times during our hospital stay when we weren’t sure that Jillian would make it.  These moments were caused by her initial brain bleed, being told she would likely need heart surgery (that issue ended up fixing itself pretty quickly and filled us with so much optimism), and waiting for the meeting with the neurosurgeon that the doctors had requested, which we knew could not be a good thing.  I remember crying to Dave that we could not lose her.  I was positive that I would not survive.  While it was a very real possibility that she wouldn’t survive, I couldn’t fathom it.  I did not understand how I could possibly go on without her.  It didn’t make sense.  That wasn’t something that could happen to us.  That kind of thing happens to other people, and I wouldn’t be able to handle it.

Amazingly, as terrified as I was of a life without her, at that time, I totally underestimated how devastating it would actually be.  The pain that comes from losing a child is completely unimaginable until it actually happens.  It is a physical pain unlike any other.  Somehow, though, I have survived.  I know our promises to Jillian are a big reason I’ve been able to go on with my life, but it’s also because of Dave.  I’ve been so independent for as long as I can remember, but now I don’t know how I’d live without him.  When we got married, we promised to be there during the bad times, but neither of us realized how bad it could be.  We have a bond formed by something that most people are fortunate enough to avoid during their lives, and it has made us realize how strong we are together.

In addition to today being Jillian’s due date, we’ve also been thinking about the fact that if she had survived, we would hopefully be preparing to bring her home around this time.  We were told during one of our first meetings with the neonatalogists that we could expect Jillian to be in the NICU until around her due date.  Having her in the hospital for at least three and a half months felt like an eternity.  I look back on our four days in the hospital and remember how terrified we were of the idea of leaving her there, knowing that being ten minutes away instead of a floor away would mean an even worse inability to fall asleep at night, jumping ten feet in the air every time the phone rang, feeling an ache in our hearts every time we left her bedside to go home for a shower, meal or work, and waking up before dawn to call for status check, relieved that the phone had not rung in the middle of the night.  At the time, it seemed like the scariest thing in the world, but I’d obviously take it over our reality.

I felt a strong need to look at Jillian’s face the other night, so we looked at our pictures from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.  They’ve been very difficult to view because of the pain in our faces, so we hadn’t looked at them in months.   I realized as I stared at them that it was the first time I’d really looked at them, and they overwhelmed me.  I know parents tend to be biased about their children, but my goodness, she was beautiful.  Seeing these pictures – really looking at them – makes my heart overflow with so much love.  As much as I think about Jillian every day, I hadn’t felt that feeling since I handed her to the doctor after she died.  I am so happy that I decided to ignore my fear of these pictures and look at them.  It made me realize that my connection with Jillian will never go away and I am so lucky that I get to experience that.

I know that we’ll get through today, but it’s not going to be easy.   We are trying so hard to be optimistic and focus on the future, but that’s not easy either.  We have so much to be thankful for, but it’s not enough.  We’d give up everything to have our sweet Jillian back.  I’d give it all up for just another moment with her.  I’d do anything for the chance to hold her, to kiss her perfect little nose, and to feel her heartbeat against mine again.  I know none of this can happen, but it’s so nice to think about how wonderful that would be.

One of my internet friends, who sadly lost one of her daughters last year, recently added this to her signature:  “Some people only dream of angels… I held one in my arms.”  I smile every time I read it because I held one, too.  Before Jillian, I didn’t really believe in angels.  Now I do believe in them, and I have one of my very own.

Daddy and I love you so much, Jilly bear.  We love you so much that I can’t even put it into words.  You are our sweet, beautiful, amazing little girl, and we miss you more than ever.  One of the books we read to you has a line that reads “I love you to the moon and back.”  While that line will always remind me of you, it doesn’t suffice.  The universe isn’t big enough to measure how much I love you.

Support

I haven’t said much about my support group here, mainly because there hasn’t been much to say.  Everything that is said in those groups is private information, just for that group.  What I can share is that I walked into this group two and a half months ago not wanting to join and thinking I would not be able to connect with these people.  I don’t know why, because I didn’t know anything about them, other than knowing that they also had lost a child (or children, in some situations).  Since that time, they have become our friends: friends that I hope we’ll always have.  They’re people that we probably never would have crossed paths with otherwise, and people we have very little in common with, aside from our tragedies, but I’ve come to love them as though we’ve known them our whole lives.

We received an invitation in the mail this week to a memorial service being held at one of the hospitals here.  It’s a service for babies who have passed away.  I cried when I read it, first because it was a reminder of this badge that Dave and I will always wear: we’re parents who have lost a baby.  It has become part of our identities, and even if we’re not defined by it, we will never be the people we once were.  It’s difficult to explain, but sometimes the reminders of this are heart-wrenching.

My crying became more intense when I saw the date.  We’re going to be out of town.  While I was sad that we’ll miss the opportunity to honor Jillian and share the story of her amazing life (although I’m sure we’ll be invited to the next one), I was more upset about the fact that we’ll miss the opportunity the honor the lives of the children of our friends from the support group.  I love these babies that I never had the opportunity to meet, and they will always be in my heart.  It makes me ache to know that we won’t be there to listen to their parents tell their stories, to cry with them, and to hug them when they’re finished.

We had some members of the group over to our place last night (others were not able to make it), and after everyone left, I told Dave that while I will never see a bright side to Jillian’s death, I am thankful that her life brought us to these amazing people.  I wish none of us had to be part of our group, but I’m glad we all have each other.

Peace

I think I’m getting closer to the point where I’m making peace with what happened to our family. It has been very gradual and it’s not like I’m over it (I will never be over it; I’m just learning to live with it). I still have moments of incredible anger and sadness, and I’m still prone to bursting into tears in the middle of the gym or grocery store, but these days, my thoughts about Jillian usually make me smile. I don’t dread going to appointments or even just out in public because of my fear that someone will ask how my baby is or whether or not I have kids. I know that those questions will probably always make me sad, but they’re not as overwhelming as they used to be.

I think I came to the realization that I’m making peace with Jillian’s premature birth and premature death when we passed a very pregnant woman on a walk this past weekend. My first thought when I saw her belly was jealousy at her ability to be that pregnant, but then I realized I’m actually the lucky one. I’m Jillian’s mom, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Three Months

Dear Jillian,

Happy three-month birthday, monkey bear. I can’t believe how quickly the last month passed. Aside from February obviously being the shortest month, it went by in a flash. It feels like I just wrote your two-month letter yesterday.

I miss you more than ever, but I’ve been doing okay. The only thing that has changed is we got a dog named Baxter. He’s little and funny and gives me love as much as he can. I have so many projects I want to work on but I haven’t touched them because I cuddle with Baxter all day. I’ve already told him all about my favorite baby ever (you, obviously) and he does his best to comfort me. I wish you could be here to meet him.

Your due date is getting closer and I’m not handling it very well. I’m hoping that Daddy and I will be able to spend the day thinking about all the happiness and joy you brought into our lives, but I know we’ll be doing some crying, too.

I miss you and love you so much, Jilly girl. You are constantly on my mind and in my heart. I will never stop missing you.

Love,
Mommy

P.S. Now that we have Baxter, I can tell you that I still love you more than both kitties and the dog combined times a billion.

I strongly dislike Wednesdays

If I could sleep through all Wednesdays for the next year or so, I’d probably do it. In my mind, Wednesdays are the day I moved up a week in pregnancy, the day of my due date, and the day that Jillian died. What used to be my favorite day of the week (because it meant moving up a week) is now my least favorite.

I woke up very early this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep. The first thought that went through my head was that I would have been full term today. Instead, I was supposed to go have an ultrasound to figure out if some abnormality in my uterus was one of the reasons I couldn’t carry my pregnancy to term.

Then my period started, which meant I had to reschedule the ultrasound. I thought I would be able to reschedule it for next week, but I actually have to wait at least three in order for the lining to build up some more. Normally, this wouldn’t be a crushing blow, but it was. It’s only three weeks, but right now, I feel like this ultrasound is what will decide when we can start trying again. We will either get the green light, be told I will have to have some kind of procedure that may set us back, or they’ll find something really wrong. As dramatic as it sounds, my life is on hold while I wait for this ultrasound, so three weeks is torture.

Then the man on the phone suggested a date for rescheduling. His first suggestion was March 24. My due date.

I have given up on today. I will be spending the day on the couch, curled up with my dog, zoning out on stupid TV, and holding my sweet baby girl in my heart.

The post where I hit you up for money.

Over on the right, there’s a March of Dimes banner for my fundraising for the March for Babies. Dave and I will be participating in this walk in May.

I hate asking people for money; so much so that I still haven’t sent out emails to my friends and family about our fundraising efforts. I am convincing myself to get over it by remembering that this money isn’t for me. It’s money to help the March of Dimes make sure that no more babies go through what Jillian went through. It’s money to help the March of Dimes make sure that no more parents have to deal with the unbearable grief that Dave and I have been living with for almost three months and will have to deal with for the rest of our lives. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy, and it’s what finally compelled me to write this post.

Please consider making a donation to the March of Dimes. If it’s not through my March for Babies team, that’s perfectly fine. Even if it’s just a dollar, it’s wonderful. Every penny counts. If you’ve already made a donation, on behalf of Dave, Jillian, and me, thank you so much for your generosity.