Friday, September 30, 2011

My Job

I've said many times that it is hard to be mom to a child in heaven.  It's hard for all of the obvious reasons.  It's hard because while I may not know what it is like to be up all night with a crying baby, I know what it is like to be up all night wishing with every piece of my being that there was a crying baby there with me.  Hard because while I may not know how my day to day life will be completely changed when I have a baby with me, I know what it is like to have my day to day life completely changed by having a baby who is not with me.  I don't know everything that my friends know about being a mom, but I know things that I am so thankful they don't have to know.

My job as a mom to Rip is different, being a mom to Rip is the main reason I write this blog.  So that no matter how much time passes, his name will not be forgotten.  It will always be known how much he is loved and missed, how many lives he touched and changed.

My job as a mom to Gracie will also be different.  Gracie will know she has a big brother who is loved and missed, that she has an angel who looks out for her.  But my biggest goal for Gracie is for her to know just how much she is loved and wanted.  Not as a replacement, not as someone to take away the sadness, but as a little girl her parents want so much just for being her.  It's my job to make sure that Gracie grows up in a happy home, and it's one I take very seriously.

However hard it may be, I wouldn't trade my job for anything in this world.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fall-ing Out

I am the most cold-natured person on earth.  I am that girl in a sweatshirt as soon as the temperature dips below 80...and yet, I am almost giddy about our first cool weather coming this weekend.

This time last year, I was only one week away from a 6 week hospital stay.  I basically missed an entire season sitting in one bed, one room for 36 days.  I kept looking outside and watching the sky get that bright fall blue, I dreamed about football games and Halloween and pumpkin spiced lattes.

I really try not to dwell on the sad, lord knows there is enough sad without me dragging things here are some good things:
This weekend I am going to plant purple pansies in my front yard..heck, I might even get a pumpkin
I am going to sit on the beach in a chair (and a sweatshirt) and let the sun beat down on my face
I am going to take a walk and let cold water hit my feet, because I can
I am going to eat as much candy corn/m&m/peanut/raisin mix that I can fit into my ever-growing belly
I am going to drink apple cider, pumpkin spiced lattes and hot chocolate
I am going to buy some big old jeggings and put them on with boots
Basically, I am going to fall out over fall.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Just to be heard

I believe in God.  I became a Christian when I was eleven years old.  Even after what happened with Rip, I still believe in God...and that makes it so much harder sometimes.

I've mentioned how I now write in a prayer journal.  The last few weeks it has been filled with a lot of "Thank you for this...Please this...Thank you for this...Please this"...but the words on the paper were not the words going on inside my head.  To tell you the truth, for the last few weeks I've been really angry at God.  I don't know if it is because we are getting closer to the anniversary of Rip's birth and death, or closer to Gracie's birth, probably both.  But I've been mentally crossing my arms and turning my back, feeling hurt and betrayed.

So yesterday I wrote what i was feeling.  My journal entry went something like this:

Dear God,
I made a commitment to believe in you no matter what, but I am having a really hard time believing in you.  I am having a hard time believing that you love me, that you want what is best for me.  I look at pictures of Rip and I cannot for the life of me understand how his not being here is best.  You tell me that there is a plan that I cannot understand but sometimes that answer is not good enough.  I have this child growing inside of me and have the full knowledge that Your Plan is the only thing that guarantees that she will get here safely and be healthy.  I put my trust in you and pray every day for her, but I know that her life is in Your hands as was Rip's.  And if I am honest with you, sometimes, that does not bring me much comfort.  So even as I know I have to rely on you completely, I need you to know that sometimes it feels like too much is being asked of me.  

Today I woke up and that dark cloud that was hanging over my head started to clear.  The anger and resentment I was feeling just wasn't there anymore.  I know there are people who would tell me it is not up to me to question or be mad at God...those people are right...and also those people probably haven't lost a child.  Just like with any other relationship, I needed to make myself heard.  I'm glad I did.  I feel like having this honest prayer healed me in ways that my rote "Thank you for, Please"'s have not.

I still don't have the answers, and I know that I probably never will.  But I believe that I was heard, even understood, and maybe that is what I needed all along.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

It's Party Time

What: Dance Party!
When: 3-5 am, Nightly
Where: My Stomach
What to Bring: The ability to hiccup, kick or punch vital organs and tickle ribs for at least two hours.  Bonus points for slowly dragging bodyparts across the bladder region.

S'long've been good to me.  Hope to see you again sometime next year!

Friday, September 23, 2011

They Say it's Your Birthday

My doctor's office called me this afternoon to let me know that Gracie's birthday (aka my c-section date) has been moved to December 27th.  As my mom said, I think I can be available that day.

I am a little funny about the whole birthday thing with her anyway.  Because it was medically necessary for me to have a c-section with Rip (as it will be for me with Gracie), I, in the broadest sense of the word, "chose" Rip's birthday. Granted, we knew he had to come early and I think I was maybe given a choice of a Thursday or a Friday, but I picked the 11th because it was my lucky number.  And though I know (I know I know I know) that decision did not play a part in what happened after Rip was born, there are times when it weighs on me.

In the truest sense of the concept, Gracie won't get to come whenever she wants to...if she is still hanging in there two days after Christmas she is destined to be in my arms whether she likes it or not.  But I am okay with that being my doctor's call at this point.

Still, being that Gracie seems to be a bit of a party girl, I would not be surprised if she made it known that she would like to join in the festivities a few days earlier.  Either way, they say December 27th is your birthday and that is just fine with me.

Gracie's Songs

These are the lyrics to the two songs Gracie and I listen to at least once a day...and yes, I tear up in at least one of them every time.  Happy tears.

"Gracie" by Ben Folds
You can't fool me, I saw you when you came out
You got your momma's taste but you got my mouth
And you will always have a part of me
Nobody else is ever going to see
Gracie girl

With your cards to your chest walking on your toes
What you got in the box only Gracie knows
And I would never try to make you be
Anything you didn't really want to be
Gracie girl

Life flies by in seconds
You're not a baby Gracie, you're my friend
You'll be a lady soon but until then
You gotta do what I say

You nodded off in my arms watching TV
I won't move you an inch even thought my arm's asleep

One day you're gonna want to go
I hope we taught you everything you need to know
Gracie girl

And there will always be a part of me
Nobody else is ever gonna see but you and me
My little girl
My Gracie girl

"Amazing Grace" LeAnn Rimes version

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I’m found.
Was blind, but now I see.

’twas grace that taught my heart to feel
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

When we’ve been dead ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing god’s praise
Then when we first begun.
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I’m found.
Was blind, but now I see. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Glimpse of Grace

In my former life, not only did I say that I would never pass around ultrasound pictures, I declared that I would never, ever stoop so low as to post those creepy 3-D babies.

This is why they tell you never say never.

                                            My daughter, the Trekkie

                                           Good news, it's a baby alright

"Seriously, Mama, relax...give me a little peace and quiet in here"

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

In the Middle of the Night

This weekend, I went home to do some nursery shopping with my mom.  It was a fun girls weekend, and we got lots of cute fabric and ideas (I am sure there will be photos when the final product is ready for presentation).

Saturday night, I woke up not feeling right.  A little chilled, headachy, the whole nine yards.  I sat there trying to decide what to do for an hour or so.  On one hand, well...I'm 30.  On the other hand, I am 30...and pregnant, and freaked out that if I had a fever it could be passed to my baby, and realizing I did not know where my parents kept the tylenol or thermometer.

That is what led me to stand over my mother at 2:00 am whispering (well, it started as a whisper)... "Mama...Mama...Mama!"

Minutes later, I found myself back in bed.  My temperature had been taken (normal), tylenol dispensed (doctor approved), and I was sipping on a fizzy drink (universal comfort drink).  While I am sure that my mother thought she was well past the days of the 30 year old waking her in the dead of night saying she felt sick, she didn't bat an eyelash.  I, in turn, was comforted enough to go back to sleep (I asked my mom if she was also able to go back to sleep...she said yes...eventually).

I started thinking about how I have always felt that way around my parents...they may not have known what to do in every situation, but their children would never have guessed.  I have grown up comforted by the fact that no matter what, I was in capable hands.  This year we have been in really tough situations.  Even in the ones they couldn't fix, the presence of my parents gave me strength I would not have had otherwise.  My biggest hope is that, whether she is 3 or 30, Gracie will be able to come to me in the middle of the night knowing no matter what the situation, her Mama (and Daddy) will help make it better.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I Think it is Safe to Say...

The baby is growing just fine...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pregnancy PSA (not that anybody asked me)

Disclaimer...I have said and done all of the things I am about to say not to do, but I guess one thing you gain going through something like we've been through is perspective.

I've said before how hard it can be to know how to answer when someone asks if you have children, or now that I am showing (big time), if this is my first child.  What Parke and I went through is (fortunately) very, very rare...but I know or know of SO many people who either have trouble getting pregnant, have experienced a miscarriage, have used an alternative method to get pregnant etc. etc.. . asking just about anything on the subject of pregnancy can stir up some pretty serious emotion.

We all know better than to ask a woman when she is due. I still shudder in horror and bust out laughing when I think about a friend of mine, who upon running into another woman she thought was expecting, reached out and touched the acquaintance's belly and asked when she was due.  The woman responded that the baby was born about a month prior... so there my friend stood, WITH HER HAND ON THE WOMAN"S EMPTY (and apparently fairly swollen) STOMACH!!! What do you even do with that?

But sometimes even asking  "So, when are you going to start having kids?" can cause a crying jag.  Obsessing over "who does the baby look like?" can be a faux these days in case of in vitro or adoption.  What number child is this for you can be a tough question for some after a miscarriage or loss.  Or occasionally I will be a in a situation (shopping, eating out) where someone I will never see again asks if this is my first child.  Sometimes I don't want to get into it so I will just say yes (always whispering a little apology up above)...but if the person won't let it go ("oh! you have no idea what you are in for!" or "Aren't you lucky to be having a little girl first!") by the time we are finished talking I am exhausted, kicking myself for lying, and near tears.

So bottom line, if you come across someone and have no idea what their current situation on child bearing may be, probably best just not to bring it up at all.  If the person is either actively giving birth (or just mentioned that she was expecting), you can stick with the "Oh my gosh, you look fabulous...this child is so lucky to have such a beautiful, smart, fashion-savvy mother"...or something to that effect.  Once the child arrives you can rest assured that anything along the lines of "cutest baby you have ever seen" will thrill every mother in the universe.

It shouldn't be this hard, in a perfect world none of this tiptoeing around would be necessary.  But from
someone who knows what it feels like to brace yourself for a punch in the gut every time you meet somebody new...well, your kind and lighthearted comments will mean more than you know.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Thank you, Doctor

Today, I want to acknowledge how grateful I am for the doctors who have helped me through this pregnancy.  Last Friday, I had my 24 week appointment.  When the nurse went to measure my belly (technically, my "fundal height", but that word remind me of fungus so I will stick with belly), I was measuring 2 weeks behind.  The nurse assured me that was completely normal.  While I waited for my doctor to come in, I did some hardcore praying that she would do or say something that could stop the major freak-out currently in progress.

She came in, took one look at my face,asked me what was wrong and (after assuring me again that my measurement was completely normal, and that she was not worried at all) scheduled me to have an ultrasound within the hour.  It was Friday afternoon at 4:00 and she knew nothing was wrong, she could have easily said "we'll keep an eye on it" and sent me on my way.  She could have left me to worry and stress and cry.  Instead, she told me that if there was EVER anything she could do to help my peace of mind, I just needed to ask.  Gracie looked beautiful...she is a whopping 1 lb 6ozs and right on track in the 48th percentile. My (and probably especially Parke's) weekend was saved.

And that has been what my medical care has been like with this pregnancy.  The doctor I saw for the first 12 weeks with Gracie, before I made the necessary change to my high risk practice, still checks on my ultrasounds and calls to give me extra encouragement after each one.  One of the doctor's at my high-risk practice took the time to look me in the eye and say, "we're not going to let anything bad happen to you".  I have worked with a genetic counselor who stood outside of the ultrasound room door, late to a meeting, just to make sure that my baby looked okay so that she could reassure me.

I met with my current doctor after I lost Rip and before I got pregnant with Gracie.  She told me then that 95% of this pregnancy would be mental.  She has taken the time to treat the mental right along with the physical.

I know these days doctors have to be careful about what they say, a potential lawsuit could be around any corner.  That's what makes what these doctors have done even more special...they have taken the time to do things, maybe not in their job description, but things that may have made all of the difference to the health of me and my baby.  For that, I need to say thank you.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A little peace here, a little joy there

I, along with everyone else, watched a lot of 9/11 coverage this weekend.  There are plenty of people much more profound than I to write about anything specifically to do with that day, and I will leave them to it.  What struck me while watching all of the horrific and moving videos from that day now, ten years later, is how much more connected I felt.

The day the towers fell, I was alone in my college gym on the treadmill.  It was just after the first tower was hit, and I watched in disbelief as another plane hit the second tower.  That day, my twenty-year-old friends and I stayed glued to the coverage.  We were afraid, we were upset, we were sad.  But deep down it was happening to someone else.  What we were watching on TV, at least for me, was still unreal.  I went on with my life.

There is a period after a devastating loss where it is impossible to believe that anyone else has been through a loss as terrible as yours.  In a way it's true, because that loss is yours.  Last night, watching the videos of the towers fall, all that I could think about was that everyone that died that day was someone's Rip.

We attended a wedding this weekend, and while singing one of the hymns a verse stuck out to me. . ."Peace on earth and joy in heaven".  I don't think it matters who you are or where you are in life, but after you experience profound loss this statement sums it up.  I can't think of anything I want more than peace for those on earth, and to know that there is safety and joy for those in heaven. That is far from a new concept, but for me, the emotions behind it are different than they were ten years ago.  Peace on earth and joy in heaven.

Friday, September 9, 2011

In the Pink

Yesterday, someone mentioned to me that instead of always looking of the black and white, I should try to enjoy the "gray area" of my pregnancy...meaning I should try to keep it in the present instead of worrying about the past or trying to jump forward to the future.  I agree, but as I've mentioned before, the gray area of anything doesn't sound like somewhere I want to be.  So, in honor of Gracie, I will try to enjoy the "pink" of this pregnancy.

Before I got pregnant with Gracie, my doctor warned me that I would be a nervous wreck until I was home with my baby (and probably well after!) because we lost Rip after his birth...meaning there wouldn't really be a month or week that I could pass and believe everything was going to be okay.

This weekend, I will be 24 weeks.  This is a BIG means that, although nobody would ever want this to happen, if I were to go into labor today there is a decent chance that my baby would survive.  My first instinct is to think of all of the things that could still go wrong...but the reality is, I am 24 weeks pregnant and everything is looking great.  I feel good, Gracie is (well, I am) growing daily, the weather is beautiful, and we have a fun weekend planned.  Things are pretty darn good "in the pink" I've just got to do my best to stay here.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

You'll Find That Life Is Still Worthwhile

Growing up, I had a stint as a "guppy" on my local swim team.  It was a short stint...I was very concerned about looking like a graceful swimmer, pointing my toes and keeping a smile on my face, but for some reason the coach was unimpressed when all of that grace left me a good pool length behind everyone else.  I left for hobbies where I felt my talents would be more appreciated (I'll let you know when I find them).

Anyway, even now I can hear the coach's voice in my head "KICK KICK KICK!!!!!!"

It's those words I now hear in my head when I am lying there are night, waiting on Gracie to do just that.

I got what I asked for two nights ago when my internal "KICK KICK KICK's" apparently made it into her little head.  It was 3:00 in the morning when she got the party started and it was 5:00 am by the time she finally wore herself out.  My insides felt like spaghetti...but I sat there and grinned through the whole event.

I think that smiling is both over- and under-rated.  Some people think that if you plaster a smile on your face, you will be happy.  For me, it doesn't work that way.  But if I come across something that genuinely makes me want to smile...well, that make all of the difference in the world.

Laying there that night, feeling my baby move and knowing that she was okay... life was still worthwhile.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Even after I accepted that life was going to go on without Rip, I had pretty much come to the conclusion that happiness was just no longer in the cards for me.  I could not conceive that I would actually feel true joy again after losing him.

The acceptance phase for me has something to do with learning how to fit becoming "The girl who..." (lost her baby) into my life.   I had to learn how to fit that new piece of my life into what already existed.  It is not been easy, but I have found that "The girl who" can be happy.

Because that girl has a beautiful baby boy and a beautiful baby girl on the way.  That girl has faith, friends, and family.  That girl can still get so cracked up over ridiculous things that her husband can only shake his head.

Happiness is different now...I won't say that it has more meaning (happy is just happy, not complicated ), but I need it more now than ever.  I love those gut-busting moments.  My great-grandmother said that you have to find you own happiness and it's true.  You have to look for and find those happy moments, and I am so glad that I have been able to discover them again.

So while Rip's death has changed me in so many ways, I am at the point now where I able to have comfort and I am able to have joy...and I like to think my son has his hand in that.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Prayers of the People

So, taking a little break from my "stages" post...right when I get to the happiest one too! I think that is part of why I am writing today (and will write an "acceptance" post at some point) I woke up so happy...and I freaked out.

Yesterday, I was able to get all of my paperwork back from the doctor outlining my leave when Gracie arrives.  The doctor said we would most likely be doing a c-section on December 26th...can you think of a better way to spend the day after Christmas?! Beats any day-after sale I know about.

But as we get closer, and as it gets more and more real, I get more afraid.  We are SO close, and I just want this baby so badly.  Gracie's birth can't change Rip's loss, but it will be a cause for so much joy.  And I am so afraid something is going to come along and take that joy away.

So very selfishly, today I am asking for prayers. Prayers for health, prayers for normalcy, prayers to quiet my mind, prayers to be able to just enjoy this time.  I guess I am looking for that whole "peace that passes all understanding" thing.  I know so many people have and are praying for us, but it makes me feel like I am doing something to ask for these prayers today...and for someone who likes complete control (and is starting to realize just how little I actually have), that means a lot.

And it sounds cliche, but from the bottom of my heart...thank you.