Monday, October 31, 2011

All Shall Be Well

The thing I was least prepared for in this pregnancy is the fear.  I knew it would be hard, I knew I would be afraid but I did not expect this kind of terror.  These are moments of Horror Movie-esque, have trouble breathing, ice in the pit of your stomach, free-falling fear.  This is "what if it happens again" fear.

I don't know that there is anything I can really do about it.  Praying helps, exercise helps, distractions help...but there is one antidote to this particular fear and I won't have it until I am sitting in my house with a soft-skinned, sweet smelling baby in my arms.

Each morning I wake up and read a few pages from different books that have helped me get through this year.  The first one I read this morning had a quote attributed to Julian of Norwich, it read "All shall be well.  All shall be well.  All matter of thing shall be well." 

After a weekend when the fear had me in its grip too much of the time, these words felt meant for me.  They allowed me to close my eyes and see that moment when "all shall be well".

I am so afraid, so very afraid of losing again.  I hope that despite my fear, I am always able to see that ending and that baby in my arms with pursed lips and tufts of dark hair.  All shall be well.  All shall be well.  All matter of thing shall be well.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Just a Little Bit Stronger

These past couple of weeks have been harder than I expected.  Logically, it doesn't make much level of missing Rip is no different just because of the time of year, or the anniversaries coming up...I miss him every day.  But subconsciously my mind and body seem to know this is a time to grieve.
A lot of the time it's the days that I don't prepare for that are the hardest, and I've been trying to prepare for Rip's birthday and the seven days that followed since the day we lost him.  But some things are just hard no matter how much preparation you have.
It can feel like a setback, when you have had days or weeks when you feel like your old self, to then be thrown back to the vulnerable, weepy you who you don't trust to watch a Hallmark commercial.
But getting through every hard milestone seems to give me a little more strength, strength that has nothing to do with slapping a smile on my face or trying not to cry. It's strength to feel whatever I need to feel as deeply as I need to feel it, and the strength to let others do the same.
One thing that absolutely gives me strength is the upcoming arrival of Miss Gracie, two months from today! Two months still sounds too long to me, but I think I blinked and November was practically here so I have a feeling December 27th is going to get here faster than I can believe! I just can't wait to meet this little girl.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Suckiest Club in the World

Shortly after Rip died, one of my mom's friends who also lost a child mentioned that I was now a part of "The Suckiest Club in the World".

I wish that there were no members of this club, and at the very least I wish that there were no new members, but I will say the women I've met this last year who have also lost a child have given me some of the greatest gifts...they have helped me get through each minute, hour, day and week.

I say all of the time that I am so thankful most people don't know what it is like to lose a child, and I am beyond lucky to have the caring, supportive group of family and friends that I do.  But there are times when I feel very alone.

There are times when I don't feel like talking about Rip to my family and friends is the right thing to do on that day or in that moment.  You know that person that you feel like running from every time you see them coming, or their number pops up on your phone, just because you know it is going to be a gloom and doom conversation...I don't want to be that girl.

But there is no getting over the death of a child, only through it, and anyone who has lost a child knows that you are always going through it.

That's where I have received so much comfort from the other members of this sucky club.  On the days where I feel completely lost, without faith or hope, I've been able to read words that were written by others that could be taken from my own head.  Whether from a blog or a personal letter or email...I can look at these words and know that I am not alone,  that some things get better and some things don't and both are okay.  I've learned from these women that there is no emotion off-limits, no timeline and no list I need to be checking off.  On days when I have needed it most I have learned that there is also happiness in life after loss, that wonderful and surprising things are still happening in this world.

So I want to thank them, the other members of this club, for understanding.  Thank you for being weak and strong and brave and broken.  Thank you for being some of the best parents I know.

Friday, October 21, 2011


My deep, dark pregnancy confession...I like it when people touch my belly.  Let me be clear, this statement pertains to pregnancy alone, touch my tummy when there is no baby inside and I won't be held responsible for my actions.

I don't know why I don't mind, it is a total invasion of personal space and I surely would hesitate if the person reaching out was of the creepy persuasion, but for the most part any old Jane or Jill is welcome to feel this baby bump.

I should be ashamed, I am breaking the pregnant woman code by encouraging this behavior, it's just that is somehow validates everything I am feeling when someone else gets that look of wonder and excitement feeling my baby kick.  It makes her seem more real.

Poor Parke can't make it through the day without having a belly shoved in his face and frankly he finds the "watch it wiggle" jello blob that was once his wife's stomach a little creepy. Can't imagine why.

So I am left seeking the belly rubs of family, friends, and strangers...feel free to try it yourself...just don't tell anyone.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

You're Gonna Miss This

I have no idea what is it with me and cheesy country songs when I am pregnant, but today I heard the Trace Adkins song You're Gonna Miss This, and this part-

You're gonna miss this
You're gonna want this back
You're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you're gonna miss this

left me near tears.

There have been so many times during this pregnancy I have wished away days and months.  Earlier today I was joking that I wouldn't mind sleeping through the next nine weeks and waking up with a healthy baby in my arms.  

It's true that I almost can't wait to get the baby here.  There are so many worries and fears that come up with being so close.  

But this is the only time I will ever be pregnant with Gracie.  This is the only October 20th I will ever have with her in my belly.  Today is the day that she kicked so hard I had to push my chair back from my desk.  Every day from here on out will be closer to the last day I will be pregnant with this little girl.  I will be so happy when that final day comes and I meet her face to face...but I think I'm gonna miss this.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The thought process of the pregnant woman

I believe that the one thing that a man will never understand, no matter how great a man he may be, is the thought process of the pregnant woman...

Can I get pregnant?
Am I pregnant? And if so, why did I drink that bottle of wine last night?
Can this test possibly be right?
I'm pregnant, but I don't feel sick...that's a bad thing, right?
I feel so sick, this can't possibly be normal.
How do I know if something is wrong with my baby?
Everyone is telling me I don't look pregnant, why don't I look pregnant yet?
Stop telling me how huge I am!
If I never have to inspect a piece of toilet paper again it will be too soon.
I have a pain in my stomach, back, leg, head, eye...what does it mean?
How do I know if something is wrong with my baby?
I can't feel the baby kick yet.
The baby is kicking but not very much.
The baby is kicking too much, what is wrong with this baby?
How do I know if something is wrong with my baby?
So you are saying all of those blobs on the screen are parts of my baby?
Why does my baby look like an alien?
Should I take this test?
What do you mean I failed my test and can't have sugar, I will NOT MAKE IT without my sugar.
What do you mean "measuring big/small"?  What will I do with this enormous/peanut-sized baby?
What do you mean by pressure?
Is this a cramp...what if I am in labor?
How do I know if something is wrong with my baby?
Is this labor or gas?
No, I am not about to pop but thanks for asking.
I what???

And this is the short list.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What Really Matters

Rip.  Rip's life. The fact that Rip's life changed so many lives. That's what really matters.
This month has been full of a lot of worry and doubt and grief, sometimes I need to pull myself back and think about who and what is important.
Rip obviously changed my life, Parke's life and the lives of our families. But it's more than that.
Over the last 11 months I've received letters and emails from friends, strangers, other mamas who lost their babies, nurses, doctors...all telling me how my little boy changed their lives.
People live years and years and don't have as much impact as my baby did in seven days.
Does that sound like bragging?  It is.
Someday I will get to share all of these wonderful notes and messages with Gracie and I will tell her the story of her brother.  It's a happy story.
Beneath all of the worry and sadness, there is this miracle of a little boy who changed the world for the better.
That is what really matters.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Just scared, period.

The other night while we were out someone asked Parke if he was scared to have a little girl.  He replied, "I'm just scared, period."

Hearing such a simple and honest response made me realize how true that is for us right now.

I am in turns thankful, grateful, hopeful, and excited. But underneath all of that is fear.

It feels like free-falling, and every once in a while there will be something for me to hold on to...a good doctor's appointment, the baby having a very active day, a message that seems sent just for me, an hour of truly believing everything is going to be okay...but nothing has been strong enough yet to keep me from falling again.

And it's okay, it's to be expected after all we have been through, but I am not scared of X,Y or Z...

I am just scared, period.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Bippity, Boppity, Boo

This has been a tough week.  I think the hardest thing in the world is to know that people you love are hurting, and it's been a week with way too much of that going on.

I want more than anything to take out my magic wand and take all of the pain away...but I know that I can' will take (ugh.ugh.ugh.) time.

And until that time comes the best I can do is to be there when they need me, with lots of chocolate (the closest thing to fairy dust this side of Disney).

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Masking it

Right after Rip died, I felt incredibly vulnerable.  I had no idea how to face the world as this new me, this "Girl Who", who was completely unprepared to deal with my loss much less others reaction to my loss.  I literally had no idea how to interact with the outside world, I wanted to find a way to hide myself.

So, I did the only logical thing...I got a nose ring.  About a week after Rip died, my younger brother came in town with strict orders to keep an eye on me while Parke was at work.  He drove me around town, I have no idea where we went or what we did, but at some point I must have mentioned that I'd always wanted a nose ring...the next thing I knew, I was leaning head down in the back room of a dark, patchouli smelling hole in the wall with a blinking piercing sign on the front door.

From my vantage point, I couldn't see the device the "piercing specialist" was using but based on my brother's gagging/giggling reaction, my guess is it looked like something that would shove a needle through your nostril.  Still, I figured with the amount of pain I was already in, nothing could hurt me now.  Yeah, I was reeeeaaaaaallly wrong about that part.  It hurt, it hurt bad.

But it was worth it.  Turns out that nose ring was exactly what I needed.  It was like a little bit of armor, distracted outsiders, maybe even gave me a touch of "bad-ass".  I needed to feel stronger, and for whatever reason (and much to my family's horror), having a diamond sticking out of nose gave me strength.

Unfortunately for the nose ring, Parke's choice of armor for that period in our lives was to grow a big, burly beard.  Word to the wise, beards and nose rings don't mix.  Every time I leaned in for a much-needed hug, I got snagged.  Between that and the massive amount of crying I was doing without being able to properly blow my nose, my little diamond of strength only lasted until New Years.

But by then I was a little stronger, had a little more faith in myself when I stepped out of the front door. I was ready to take off the mask. My only regret now is that I didn't get any good pictures...

Parke and I in our our masks...okay, you can't see mine because it was on the other side of my face, but trust me, I was cool.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Patting myself on the back

Yesterday, I cleaned the nursery.  I put away little boy clothes and pulled out little girl clothes.  It was something I needed to do by myself, it was a time for me to cry if I wanted to cry, think about what I wanted to think about, be excited about the things I wanted to be excited about.

Putting away Rip's things was something I have been dreading, and it was just about as emotionally draining as I imagined it would be.  At the same time, it was healing...I came across some of Rip's ultrasound pictures, and he and Gracie have almost the exact same profile.  I do believe that there is another little boy in our future somewhere, and I looked forward to bringing those boxes back out when that day comes.   And I had time to talk to Rip.  I needed that.

I also washed all of Gracie's clothes (and I do mean all...girl has a wardrobe).  It was something I did not get to do for Rip, and I enjoyed it.  Smelling and folding all those little pink things and putting them in their proper place was so satisfying...I think I spent at least 30 minutes just examining my handiwork   Lining up little shoes, laying out pretty pink blankets, hanging up teeny dresses on teeny was real for me then, there is a baby coming!

When I woke up this morning and peeped in the nursery, I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.  Gracie is coming, and we are getting ready for her...but in doing so, I lost nothing of Rip.  So today I am going to pat myself on the back...I did something hard and worthwhile and now I can keep moving forward.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Making Heads or Tails of it...

My appointment on Friday was blissfully uneventful...hooray! I actually passed my test for gestational diabetes and to be honest, I was shocked...let's just say I haven't been denying myself much these days.  I guess all these years of eating dessert after every meal are paying off, sugar seems to do my body (and baby) good...or at least it doesn't hurt.

Only one interesting little tidbit came out of yesterday's visit...apparently Gracie is breech, which for the most part is no big deal as I will be having a c-section.  Except...I thought she was head down.  And I thought that large bulge sticking out by my belly button was her little fanny.  And I may or may not have been mashing it, patting it, and pressing on it for the last few weeks.  Soooo... sorry kiddo...I'm sure the dents will fill out over time and if not I have plenty of hairbows for you.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Round and Round She Goes

One year ago today I was put in the hospital on bedrest for 6 weeks.  As I have said, there are equal parts disbelief and even fondness that goes with the memories of that time.  In some way, I really can't believe I sat in a room for 6 weeks...I also can't believe how many friends and family came by during those 6 weeks with anything and everything to keep me entertained.

Even though I am almost thankful for that time now, any anniversary like this can be rough.  My original due date with Rip was 12/19/10...and Gracie's big debut is scheduled for 12/27/11, so in a way I am reliving a lot of Rip's pregnancy.  In some ways, it is so different and I am grateful for those differences.  In other ways, those differences make me sad, that my pregnancy with Rip was not this "easy".

I guess I am bracing myself for the emotions that may come up between now and the end of November.  I know that some of these days will be hard, maybe even harder as I move forward with this pregnancy...but I know the only thing harder than reliving these days pregnant with Grace would be living them without her.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Looking for an Ace

For about five years of my life, starting when I was around nine, I was a horseback rider.  I adored horses, begged my parents to let me have lessons.  So at least once a week for those five years, I got to ride horses...and I was absolutely terrified.

The thing with horseback riding is, you are supposed to fall off... and then of course get right back on.  I never fell off...and as time went on, I got more and more afraid of falling.  There were times when I should have been thrown, or bucked, or scraped off a horse but I clung on for dear life.

The policy at the barn was that the instructor picked your horse for the week, and you would not know which horse you were riding until you looked up at the little green chalkboard outside of the office window.  Those were some tense moments.

There was Galahad who, despite the name, was no knight in shining armor.  Instead, he was the oldest horse in the barn, not only that, he wasn't even a horse...he was a "large pony" who I could have mounted standing flat footed.  Days with Galahad were safe, but boring.  Even I felt a foolish riding around on something that allowed my feet to scrape the floor.

And there was Raindrop, a spirited Appaloosa who left me pining for a Galahad day...I once watched Raindrop toss my best friend over her head smack into a barn door.  My friend suffered a broken ankle and I suffered from paralyzing fear every time I got near the beast.

But then there was Ace...just a normal old quarter horse, but big enough not to make me feel like a fool and steady enough so that I was never afraid.  I lived for the days when I saw his name beside mine on the old green board.

This Friday is my 28 week doctor's appointment with Gracie.  To this point, some of my appointment's have been Galahads...I'm thankful for them, but they are slow and leave me impatient and wanting to know more.  There have also been a couple of Raindrop's, appointment where I feel like I am clinging on for dear life and so thankful to be getting the heck out of there.  And then there have been some of Aces...big appointments that still managed to make me feel safe and comforted.

Despite my best efforts to cling on, I fell off the horse when Rip died.  My pregnancy with Gracie has been my getting back on moment...I just hope this Friday and every appointment after gives me an Ace.