Looking ahead

I haven’t really said on here that Dave and I would start TTC again soon. I think I was nervous about people asking if I’m pregnant yet or eyeing my drinks trying to determine if I’m consuming alcohol or not. I realized this week that none of that matters: I will be saying “no” even if I am pregnant until the pregnancy is deemed viable and my cervix is locked up, and I’m not going to be drinking anyway. So for the record, if you see me ordering water at a bar, it means nothing.

We’ll be trying again soon. At this point, I’m just ready to get this show on the road. I know that getting pregnant will bring a new wave of emotions that I haven’t experienced yet. As excited as we’ll be, we’ll both be extremely nervous, and I think we’ll be feeling a lot of sadness. We’re not supposed to be trying again so soon because Jillian is supposed to be two or almost six months old.

I talked to one of my counselors a couple of months ago about how I’m so nervous about the second trimester that I’ve almost forgotten about how nerve-wracking the first trimester could be. She predicted that it would all come back to me as soon as I have a positive test, but it’s starting to come back already. I had a ton of spotting with Jillian and one night with a lot of blood and cramping – so much so that Dave and I were certain that I was miscarrying. I spent the rest of my pregnancy being afraid of going to the bathroom, in fear that it would happen again, and I’m already nervous about it for next time. I was so sick with Jillian that I’m scared that if I’m not sick next time, I’ll think something is wrong, even though I know every pregnancy is different. Of course, if I’m sick next time, I’ll be worried that throwing up will put too much pressure on my cervix. I can’t win in my mind.

I’m also terrified that what happened with Jillian will happen again. It’s completely unfathomable, and people usually say things like “but you’ll be monitored so much next time,” but that’s no guarantee. With the cerclage, odds will be in my favor, but it’s not foolproof. ¬†I’m also afraid of the unintentionally terrible things will say. Mostly, that Jillian will watch over the next baby and make sure he/she is okay. I don’t want that kind of pressure on my angel. If something does go wrong, does it mean that Jillian failed? I’d like to think that people won’t say it, but it’s already been said. I think most people can’t comprehend why this statement would make my heart hurt, and of course it’s well-intentioned, but I hope I won’t hear it anymore.

That said, knowing that we’ll be trying again this cycle has lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. I talked with two of my counselors this week about how I’m able to look forward now instead of back. I’ll never stop looking back completely, and I think I’ll continue to think of Jillian every day, throughout the day, for the rest of my life, but I now have something that will hopefully be positive to think and dream about.

I’ll cross all these bridges as we come to them. I hope it happens soon. If it does, I’ll tell you about 14 weeks later. ūüôā

Meet Willy

Dave went out to pick up our dinner Friday night. ¬†When he came back, a neighborhood dog walker was on the stairs of our building, trying to lure a cat out from between the stairs and a wall that juts out. ¬†He said he would take the cat to one of the nearby shelters if it was still open. ¬†Dave came inside to get a carrier, and we went out to pull the cat out. ¬†It turned out that the shelter was already closed, so Dave and I agreed that we would bring him in for the night and take him in on Saturday. ¬†When we pulled him out, we realized that he was hurt. ¬†He wouldn’t put any weight on his right hind leg, which didn’t look right, and most of his tail was hairless.

Once we brought him inside, we realized we shouldn’t wait to take him in, so we went to another shelter with emergency vet care. ¬†When we got there, they told us that he may be put down. ¬†We decided to register him as ours to get him checked out. ¬†It turns out that his “good” hind leg likely has a torn ligament. ¬†His right hip is out of the socket and that leg was broken and has healed improperly. ¬†His tail has a pretty bad wound on it, which has healed, but most of his tail is just dead tissue. ¬†He is painfully skinny, but he doesn’t seem to be in much pain unless his right hind leg is handled or he slips and puts weight on it. ¬†He’ll need surgery on both hind legs, and the right one is probably going to need to be amputated, along with his tail.

We brought him home and began our efforts to find his owner. ¬†We’ve had no luck. ¬†We don’t want to give him to a shelter that may put him down, but we’re also hesitant to give him to a no-kill shelter out of fear that he’ll sit there for a very long time (or the rest of his life). ¬†We started to realize that he’s probably going to be with us forever, despite the fact that we had no intention of getting another pet.

He has gotten more comfortable with us, and yesterday, I learned that he just loves to love.  He comes out from the bed every time I go into the guest room and finds his way straight to my lap.  He loves to nuzzle and play with my hair.  I get more attached the more I spend time with him, and I think the feeling is mutual.

I dropped him off at the vet this morning so he could have blood work and x-rays today. ¬†The vet tech couldn’t believe that we’ve only known each other since Friday, and we commiserated about gaining pets that we didn’t plan for. ¬†I cried when I left (of course) and I’m staring at the phone waiting for them to tell me I can come get him. ¬†He hasn’t met the other animals yet, and I’m pretty sure one of our cats is going to want to kill him (just like all the other animals in our house). ¬†Hopefully he’ll be fast on three legs.

Sometimes I feel like I’m losing my mind.

Dave and I planted an azalea a few days before Jillian’s due date. ¬†I went out to our patio Sunday morning, and I saw buds on the plant for the first time. ¬†I have interpreted it as a Mother’s Day gift from my sweet girl. ¬†I also realized that the red azalea we bought actually has pink flowers. ¬†I’m not sure if it was a tag mixup or Jillian making her color preference known. ¬†I sat down to cry, and the wind started blowing. ¬†Suddenly, I felt Jillian’s presence more than I ever had. ¬†I knew she was watching over me, and it confirms for me that she is definitely still here. ¬†I felt a little bit like I was going crazy, but I don’t think I could ever be convinced that I wasn’t feeling her.

Yesterday morning, I stayed in bed after Dave left for work (I normally get up when he leaves, but I haven’t been feeling well). ¬†Sunlight started to come in from one of our windows. ¬†One of our wedding pictures is in a frame on our dresser, and it caught my eye. ¬†The only spot in our entire room that had any light on it was my wedding dress. ¬†It seemed to be glowing, which is why it caught my eye. ¬†My heart swelled as I felt Jillian again. ¬†I said her name out loud, then cried as I told her I love her and miss her. ¬†After a minute or two, the light disappeared, and I couldn’t feel her anymore.

I feel so crazy admitting this that I’m not sure I’m going to actually publish this post. ¬†However, just like I felt her on Sunday, I know that I felt her yesterday, and nobody can tell me otherwise, despite the fact that I’m the world’s biggest skeptic about everything. ¬†It is a feeling unlike anything I’ve ever felt before, and it’s amazing. ¬†It’s so peaceful and it makes me happier than anything else in the world.

Happy Mother’s Day

Today is difficult. It’s my first Mother’s Day as a mother, and I hate it. Mother’s Day is not fun if the baby isn’t here. It’s made even worse by realizing that today is also the five-month mark since Jillian died. Kick me while I’m down, world. I hate to be a pessimist and say it’s just my luck, but it is just my luck.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my role as a mother and all the things I missed out on. I never got to feed my child, aside from swabs of colostrum. I never changed my baby’s diapers. Worst of all, I don’t get to see her grow up. I’ll never see Dave teaching her to drive the go-kart she was destined to have as soon as she was old enough. I’ll never hear her laughter or dry her tears.

I am thankful for the things I did get to do as her mother. I’m thankful that I was fortunate enough to hear her cry. I got to read her stories and quietly sing to her. I got to watch her doing things that made me laugh, and I’ll have those memories forever. Most of all, I got the absolute honor of holding my child as she died. As horrible as her death was, I feel truly blessed that she died in my arms. It’s something that no mother should ever have to do, but I think of it as a gift.

My fear about today has been that I would be forgotten. ¬†Fortunately, I woke up this morning to a message from a friend wishing me a happy Mother’s Day. ¬†This friend singlehandedly made what I figured would be the fourth worst day of my life a million times better. ¬†It still hurts just to be awake and think about what I’m missing today, but at least now I feel like I can face it.

I hope all the moms out there have a good day.  I will be thinking of all of you.

The March for Babies

Our march was today. It was much more difficult than I thought it would be. We got there pretty early because we had access to an area that allowed us to have our picture taken with Kevin and Enza Youkilis. We waited for that in the pouring rain, then headed out to the main area for the festivities.

I think I held it together pretty well until I saw the “NICU Reunion” tent. I wanted to be able to walk into that tent with my own NICU graduate, but obviously that’s not the case. It made me sick to my stomach to stand there watching the people under the tent, but I couldn’t look away. Dave and I both did a lot of crying and I wanted nothing more than to go home and crawl into bed. Things got bad again when I filled out a slip to be part of the paper chain that was being made. I knew ahead of time that I would need a white one, which represents babies who died, but it was the other colors that set me off. One of them had a spot for birthdate and birth weight, and obviously was for babies who survived. I could barely write Jillian’s name on her paper once I saw it out of the corner of my eye. I would sell my soul to be able to write Jillian’s name on any slip other than the white one and I felt heartbreaking jealousy towards the people who got the other colors.

Things got a little better when we found our friends from our support group. We all talked about how we didn’t want to be there and how hard it was. The rain stopped just before the walk was to begin, and we ran into our grief counselor right before it started. We didn’t know she would be there, and she didn’t know we would be there.

It was very nice to see her, and as we started walking, we talked about me visiting the NICU with her. I need to go back there. I know it’s going to be very difficult, but I need to see the place where my daughter lived her entire life. I need to hear the constant beeping and smell the distinct smell that the NICU has. I’d also like to see at least one of the nurses who cared for her while she was there and just hug her. She’s one of the people who knew Jillian best, and I want to thank her for caring so much for our entire family. Shallowly, I’d like her to see what I look like when I’ve taken a shower, gotten some sleep, and changed out of a hospital gown. I’m hoping I’ll be able to go into the room where Jillian died while I’m there. I need to sit in the chair again and remember everything that happened as we were saying goodbye. I’m hoping that being in that room will make me feel some sort of connection with her again. I always feel a connection with her, but there are some moments when it’s stronger than usual, and I’m hoping this visit will be one of them.

We left the walk at the halfway point. It was partially because we were soaked and freezing, partially because we were almost home at that point, and partially because it was too hard to be there. I’m glad we did it, and I am so proud of the money we raised (our team of just Dave and me raised over $5000), but I’m glad it’s over. Thank you to everyone for your amazing support.

Five months

Dear Jillian,

I can’t believe it’s been five months already since you were born. Daddy and I are hanging in there, but we still miss you so much that it hurts our hearts. We talk about you every day, think about you constantly, and still talk to you all the time.

I had a pretty rough weekend. Well, it was a great weekend because I was with some friends that I love very much, but one of them has a baby who was born two weeks before you. She is such a sweet baby, and I loved every second I got of holding her and playing with her, but at one point, it hit me that I should have been at home tickling your belly and telling you what a pretty girl you were. Thankfully, my friends were very supportive and understanding, but it’s still tough.

While I was traveling, I had the opportunity to spend some time with Aidan’s mommy, Maggie. We had such a good visit and it was so nice to know that we could say whatever we wanted knowing that the other would understand and wouldn’t be uncomfortable. I was lucky enough to see a picture of Aidan, and he was gorgeous. I’m thinking you already know this, because I know in my heart you’re playing together and taking care of each other.

I got a new pendant for my necklace this weekend. It’s a tiny key, and I put it next to the little urn I wear. The card the key came on reads “Memories are like treasures. They are always there to appreciate, and only become more valuable with time. Wear your necklace as a reminder that your most joyful moments live forever in your mind.” How true that is.

I miss you so much, Monkey. Even though I feel like we’re learning to live this new life without you and we’re coping as well as we possibly can, I still can’t believe you’re gone. ¬†We love you more than anything, Jillian.


The final push

Two months ago, I wrote that Dave and I will be walking in the March for Babies. Our walk is this Saturday, and I’m still $300 from my goal. ¬†I have been increasing my goal as I’ve been going, but I’d still like to reach this one.

I am so grateful to all the generous donations we have received, as well as the donations that have been made to other walkers in the March. ¬†If you haven’t made a donation, please consider one. ¬†Like I said in my previous post, it’s perfectly fine if it’s not through my team, despite the fact that I am shamelessly asking you to help me reach my goal. ¬†In the end, it doesn’t matter how these donations are submitted. ¬†They’re all for the same thing: to help all babies to be born healthy.

My personal March for Babies page can be reached by clicking on the box to the right of this post, but you can also reach it through this link. ¬†Whether it’s through our team, another team, or directly to the March of Dimes, thank you so much for your support.