My heart is gone...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

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I feel so lost right now. My heart is gone... My reason is gone... It took months to get to a place where I thought we could try for baby #3 after Nick and Sophie left us. Not to replace them- no one ever could- but because we wanted a large family and wanted to have many, many children. We were afraid but they gave us such joy that we decided the fear of the pain of losing another child was worth the joy of another baby growing, the promise of the birth of another child. The miscarriage was such a shock; who expects that a baby will not implant? Who imagines being told their baby fertilized but never came into being? We were so sad, but somehow found a way to continue trying. And then our beautiful son... Our Alexander... Who brought us such hope and peace...
The first few weeks were so hard. We were pregnant- but would it last??? Would the baby implant and thrive? Would he make it to the first ultrasound? Would we see his beartbeat? Would we make it to our first prenatal and hear his heartbeat? What about our second prenatal? Would we? And things continued to progress. Every time we saw the baby and he was fine... Every time we measured the cervix and the results were top of the charts... Every new day, with kicks and swooshing... Every yoga class and Bradley class... More and more, we began to believe what everyone was telling us: that Alexander would be fine... that our pregnancy was normal... that, come the spring, our son would be born healthy and happy. It took about 16 weeks, but last Monday, we both had finally accepted that our prenancy was actually normal. That our son was fine and we could relax.

We talked about the things that most parents talk about when they are expecting another baby... The routine things... Who he would be, what he would look like, what the baby showers would be like... There weren't talks of my cervix being possibly faulty... There weren't talks about "what if" he came early. We were, for the first time in so many months, just another set of expectant parents with their hopes and dreams, with their jitters mostly subsided. Everyone was right: our pregnancy was normal. There was nothing to worry about.

I still don't know why Wednesday played out like it did. I can't even think about the why. Part of me feels like it was a blessing in disguise. I was so tired that I'd thought of staying home from yoga. I would have gone to bed early, peed during the night (without really being able to see), gotten up (possibly without noticing any blood) and gone to work, for a day of being on my feet. Would I have gone into labor at work? Would we have had any extra time with him? Would Peter have been with us? Instead, I decided that I'd go to yoga, since it made me feel so much more relaxed. As I walked out the door, I stumbled and fell, landing on my left wrist and left knee. My stomach was protected by my yoga mat and never hit the ground. A complete mess, I went into the house, checking for blood, freaking out, even though I wasnt in pain or bleeding. After calming down and still seeing nothing, I went to the class and it was wonderful. I had such a lovely time, holding my belly, talking to little Alex. It was wonderful and so relaxing. I drove home with such a feeling of peace and planned on succumbing to my peanut butter craving with a PB&J sandwich. I got home and, of course, had to pee. So, I did. And there was no blood, no excess mucus. But something said, check again... So, I did, this time keeping the tissue a little closer, a little longer. And the pink presented. It was so light that for a split second, I thought I was seeing things. But then, the fear hit.

I darted up the stairs and, in a panic, tried to find the number to Lankenau. The first number I called was a bust. The second put me on hold for the OB on call. Running back down the stairs, I checked again. It was pink- and it was pinker. I laid down on the couch and put my feet up. There was still no pain, only my fear. Using my cell, I called Peter... No answer. I tried another choir member... She wasn't there. Finally, the choir director, yelling for her to send Peter home right away. I couldnt breathe, I couldnt control my voice, I was on the verge of tears. I didn't know what to say, what to do. I hung up on Peter, who had taken the director's phone, when the doctor came on the line. Much to my dismay, she basically said that she couldnt advise me, that I would have to call Dr. B.'s answering service. (This is the same OB on call who told me, with an open cervix, to walk around...)

I called the answering service and within a minute or two, Dr. B.'s associate had called me back. He told me that the fall had nothing to do with the bleeding, that bleeding from that would have been a lot quicker than 2 hours later. He said that, for peace of mind, to come to the hospital and that they would admit me to antepartum for overnight monitoring. As I hung up the phone, Peter pulled into the drive. I met him outside and we rushed to the hospital... The staff were waiting for us and we were taken in right away. Within 5 minutes of arriving, a nurse had a doppler strapped to my belly and we heard our beautiful cuddlebug's heartbeat, a steady 155-160 BPM. It was wonderful. She also strapped me in to see if I was having contractions; nothing showed on the monitor. It wasn't until midnight that the resident I'd spoken to on the phone (who couldn't help me) came in and did an ultrasound. Our little boy was playing soccer like usual, jumping up and down on my bladder, moving all over the place, his heartbeat strong. Her physical exam showed my dilated cervix, and this is the only part of the hospital stay that angers me. Common sense tells you that if someone's cervix is open, you stay off your feet. No question. Dr. Genius told me not to use a bedpan, to go to the bathroom, and to just relax until Dr. B. saw me the next day. I fully believe that this order is what allowed my bag and little Alexander's legs to slip into my vagina. I think that, had she given me the advice my doctor gave me the following day (inversion, 100% bedrest, 100% bedpan) that I'd still be in the hospital. In a precarious situation still, no doubt, but I dont think my water would have broken and I dont think labor would have progressed. To the contrary, I think my cervix would have closed and that Dr. B. would have been able to perform the cerclage surgery. I'd like to think that the doctor isn't incompetent, but, in my grief, in my looking for someone to blame, she is the only doctor that didn't live up to par.

In spite of this, I have a beautiful baby boy, to remember, to love, to hold in my heart forever. I can't regret that. I just wish for more time... So much more time...

We ordered Alexander's memorial Mass cards. We worked on them last night and the proofs were emailed to us this morning. It's hard making funeral arrangements when we should be planning a baby shower and day dreaming about his Christening day.


Make me an instrument of your peace... The prayer of St. Francis... This sums up our little boy. He brought us peace. So many times during our hospital stay (and even now), we just felt this enormous peace, the peace of the Divine. There just aren't words to describe it. For example, after my water broke: peace. Pure, unadulterated peace. The nurses and doctors were more upset than we were. Peter even said he knew things were okay because I was fine. No stress, no fear. It was all okay. That was Alexander. He just had a way of setting you at ease with his spirit. We took a nap and afterwards, still no pain, no worry, just peace. When the moments got bad and the worry took over, again this feeling of peace decended. Feelings of love and joy, of hope in a time where hope was scarce. Even when talking to Dr. B.- there was this sense of ease, a feeling he understood and worked with us in. When the bleeding began, there was fear, so much fear, and I think we both knew that Alexander's time was coming. After the ultrasound showed our little boy's heart beating and his little body moving, amid all the blood, after the doctor's told us that there was no hope left... We felt his peace... It gave his father the ability to tell the doctor's that we would follow whatever lead Alex gave us, that we would handle his labor in our way, on our own. That peace, I think, gave them the sense to go away, to let us be, to understand that they wouldnt be called back until our son entered the world. We weren't immune to the hope that our son would wait, that he would hang on and that my placenta would hold, but there was a peace to the situation, his peace, that told us it was alright.

After the priest visiting and prayed over him, and prayed for Peter and I and our labor, a final peace took place. When we were all alone, we faced each other and talked to each other for a while. The contractions seemed to fade away and we took that last, precious sleep together. I can close my eyes and feel Peter's body pressed against mine, his arms wrapped around my expanded belly. I can feel our son moving to find his daddy's hands, whooshing back and forth, kicking, finally settling into his cuddlebug position, resting under the warmth of our hands. That nap was so wonderful... So full of hope and love and peace. He was relaxed and unafraid. He was getting ready to meet his parents, face to face.

When his labor went into full force, there was no crying, no screaming, no utter pain. It was labor, no doubt, and it hurt, sometimes terribly, but there was this stillness... This place that doesn't exist outside of those moments. I'll never forget them. There were perfect kisses from my husband, from the father of our children, Alexander's father, my love... Even now, those kisses transport me to this place of peace and love. There was hand holding like nothing else, as his dark brown eyes guided me through the peace that labor had brought. Finally, there were his voice, telling me that our son was, indeed, as I had thought, being born... That is perfect little legs were coming out, kicking, playing. There was the announcement that his chest was out, that one more gentle push would bring him completely into the world. There was the gasp of wonder and amazement and then the words that announced our son's broad shoulders (like his mommy's) and beautiful head (shaped like his daddy) had finished his birthing process. There was the smile and the words every mother longs to hear: he's moving. Finally, after his cord was cut, there was the moment I'd waited for. Peter brought my precious baby boy to where I could see him, finally in fullness, and said "Our son".

Those words... Our son... Other than "our daughter" (which is equal is perfection), there are no words as beautiful. Not even "I love you", I think. There is something so sacred about those words... Our son or our daughter... Our child... Our baby... The culmination of our love, exploding in divine creation, perfection. You look at this child, this perfect image of all that is right in the world, and you know that there is nothing you wouldnt do, nothing you wouldnt give, for this baby. You would lay down your life a hundred times over, you would rip your own soul out, you would descend to the bowels of hell and risk the ultimate loss, over and over again, just for a moment holding, kissing, feeling, loving... There is no pain too great, no sorrow too much for that single moment. You look at your baby, your beautiful, sacred child, and you know that there is no love greater than that of parent and child. It changes everything. It makes your life worthwhile and purposeful. It conquers everything else. Because, when you stare into the face of your perfect child, there is nothing else. There never could be.

Today, I sit here, broken. My heart has burst into thousands of shards, each more painful than the one before, as they stab at what is left of my fractured soul. But it has broken not because of my grief, but because of my love. Because it wasn't big enough to hold the explosion of love that my son gave me. Because of that love, today, I survive.

Alexander

Monday, November 24, 2008

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On Monday, I felt quite secure after a great cervical measurement of 4. But, on Wednesday night, I wiped after going to the bathroom and saw a bit of blood. Peter and I immediately rushed to our hospital, 45 minutes away, and although we heard our precious boy's heartbeat, the physical exam showed that my cervix had dilated to 2. We were admitted but, since they couldn't get a hold of our doctor, the resident told me that I could go to the bathroom, etc. The next morning, our doctor revoked those orders, and put us in "Tburg" (inversion) and bedpan only. To our shock, an ultrasound showed that part of my water bag and little Alexander's legs were in my vagina (even though the bag hadn't broken). We were advised to start labor, but just couldnt do it. Our little snugglebug's heart was so strong and he was moving around, even as we were terrified. We decided to maintain bedrest and that, if he came, it was his time to be born. The doctors told us that we probably wouldnt make it through the night.

From our Bradley classes, we'd learned that pelvic tilts on hands and knees help move babies into better positions. Deciding we had nothing to lose (and still in inversion), we did a few minutes of tilts each hour. Thursday night, as I was preparing to use the bedpan, I sneezed and my water broke, sending a huge spray all over the floor and bed. Amazingly, Peter and I were calm. A sense of peace filled the room. Labor didn't start and we prayed for his sack to reform and his fluid to replenish, even though the doctors warned that there was an almost 0% chance. We were told to wait for labor to begin any time. But still... no labor.

Friday morning, an ultrasound showed little Alexander completely in the uterus and in an (albeit smaller) bag of fluid. We were concerned because we wanted more fluid, but we were just so grateful that there was a bag of fluid around him! We were still advised that the chances weren't great but were told that there was no harm in waiting and seeing a repeat u/s on Monday, to check fluid, bag, etc.

Saturday night, we went to bed in our inverted hospital bed (yes, my sweet husband stayed and slept with me, even though I can only imagine how uncomfy it must have been for him being so tall), and he rubbed my back until I fell asleep. About an hour or so later, at around 11:30pm, we woke up, me with a funny pelvic pain and him to blood- all over his underwear, my underwear, and the bed. Being the sweetie that he is, he responded to my request and got me as cleaned up the best he could before calling the nurses. I was terrified when I removed my underwear and found large blood clots and the nurses were quite concerned as well. The OB on call was sent in and, after a doppler failed to locate Alexander's heartbeat, the doctor used an ultrasound to do so. Little Alex was doing very well, good HB, and movement. But there was blood everywhere in the uterus, a sure fire sign of placental abruption. The doctor advised us to induce labor, since there was nothing they could do.

We had already decided that we would let Alexander's labor play out on his terms as much as we could. We had prayed for miracles, and had received them, granting us more days than doctors had told us were possible. Peter explained that we would follow Alexander's labor pattern and proceed with the natural labor we had prepared for (even though we'd hoped to use it in months). He politely told the nurses that we wouldn't call them until after Alexander was born, and they all were very understanding of our feelings.

We slowly changed the bed over the next hour from inversion to an almost seated position, and yet, still no baby (although plenty of blood and clots, accompanied by contractions). One of the nurses, who knew we were Catholic, offered to call a priest, and at 1am, a priest from a local parish arrived. He was so kind and prayed a beautiful prayer over all of us, especially Alexander, and then gave the Anointing of the Sick. I'm convinced that this all really did help with labor. After he and the nurse left, Peter and I felt such a sense of peace that we decided to take a nap together as a family. Around 3:30am, I woke up to a contraction, wrapped up in Peter's arms, and I woke him, telling him I felt it was time. In a mostly quiet labor, full of kisses and loving words from my sweet husband, I used the breathing tips we had learned and pushed out our beautiful son. Nathaniel Alexander was born at 3:45am, at 17w, weighing 3.9 oz. and measuring 7 inches in length. He came out kicking like the soccer player he was in the womb- and feet first! It took three pushes to get him completely into his father's arms, where he continued his feast of movement, much to our joy. We called the nurse, whom we'd already told we wanted to baptize him first and get his vitals second. We knew that we'd only have mere moments most likely and wanted to be able to have some very special moments. The nurse was very kind and immediately baptized little Alexander, who squirmed during the Sacrament, however by the time she was complete and he was in a blanket, she couldnt find a heartbeat and his little legs and arms had settled down, with him sucking his thumb.

It took almost another hour and a half to push out the placenta, which was harder than pushing Alexander out, but we still continued our plan of drug free labor. Peter held our beautiful little boy, who even after his spirit had left his body, still cuddled up to us, no matter what position he was in. After labor was complete, we went to bed as a family and slept, our baby nestled against my chest in his little blanket (so lovingly wrapped by his daddy), with Peter spooned up against me and holding our little one by reaching his (long) arms around me completely. I can only imagine the beautiful image. It was so beautiful to me.

We kept our son with us and our day was uneventful, save me getting out of bed long term, which included some vomiting from the change in position and dizziness, along with two pass outs as I walked to the bathroom and back. Apparently, I was quite pale, but thankfully blood tests confirmed that I hadn't lost as much blood as was feared, since I was bleeding all night, and physically, I was fine, just drained. By 11am, I was able to shower on my own and move around.
Peter and I spent a beautiful morning with our son, holding him, dancing with him, singing to him. We napped with him and kept him close. We also took a lot of pics (which I'll post to my blog once they are uploaded), and Peter's parents came to the hospital and spent an hour with their grandson. It was wonderful spending the time with him among those who love him so much. Peter handled making calls to my immediate family, as I couldnt find the words. In some ways, he doesn't realize how strong he is. Then, he also called the funeral home that handled the arrangements for Nicholas and Sophia, and arranged for Alexander to be picked up Monday for cremation and his addition to the marble box we had Nicholas and Sophia placed in, which during our hospital stay, sat next to the bed, as it does at home. We made the hard decision to discharge Sunday night and have our beautiful baby boy taken to the morgue. We knew that it was better for his body than staying with us in the warm room, and frankly, I couldnt handle the idea of having him away from me and still being in the hospital. It was either be discharged on Monday and keep him all night, then have the funeral home pick him up on Tuesday, or discharge Sunday and have the funeral home pick him up Monday.

The hardest thing was leaving the hospital again without our beautiful little one in tow. We were so heavily monitored and yet, even that, couldnt save our son. It's such a feeling of powerlessness. Our doctor did say that he would cerclage at 12w in the future, since now they can document my cervix opening early without warning. But, today, I can't think about baby #4. All I can think about is my beautiful baby boy, my cuddlebug, my Alexander.

Please keep Peter and I in your prayers as we face the day without our newest joy, Alexander, and continue to live each moment without our Nicholas and Sophia, events we never expected. We are so grateful for each moment we've had with each of our children, most recently Wed-Sun with our precious baby boy, Alexander. So many prayers were said and we know that they had such a huge impact, helping to both give us the more time we desperately hoped for and the much needed time to prepare.

T minus 0 to P17

Monday, November 17, 2008

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So, I had my first P17 shot on Sunday morning. Honestly, it wasn't that bad. I'm sharing what we did, in case that makes it easier on others who may read this and need to take them at some point in pregnancy. The pharmacist gave two recommendations to Peter: first, prep the area with an ice cube before the alcohol swab, since that will numb the area, and afterwards, apply heat. Second, warm the liquid. Since it is a thicker liquid, a lot of the pain comes from injecting the viscous fluid. Peter looked up the best location (upper outside quad of buttocks, to avoid sciatic nerve) and we got ready. I bolstered with pillows so that I could go into a supported child's pose (no tummy on the bed) which (I think) allows the fat over the butt to distribute, making the muscle more readily accessible. (It's an intramuscular shot.) He warmed the vial prior to pulling the syringe and then warmed the syringe as well. Honestly, I dont the ice helped one bit. The water dripped down my leg and near my hoohaa, leaving me feeling cold and like I'd peed on myself. We'll be skipping that step this coming Sunday. The injection itself wasn't that bad (of course, I've spent the last year being poked with needles so maybe NOW it isnt so bad); the needle is long but fairly thin. The injection starts with some burning (due to the liquid being thick). As soon as Peter was finished, I got up and walked around. A few seconds into it, it felt like a charlie horse in my bum. That wasnt so pleasant, but I kept walking around and less than a minute later, it felt like I had really worked myself out at the gym and was very sore. I got into the shower and let the warm water just flow over me. The pharmacist recommended a heating pad, which would probably work well on bedrest, especially if you couldnt walk around afterwards. We had decided to do it in the morning, before church, in case I couldnt sit down. Since I was serving, I could stand the entire time without looking out of place. But that didnt become an issue at all. My butt feels fine.

So, long story short, it wasn't nearly as bad as I'd thought based on reading people's posts, but even had it been, it would be well worth it.

In other news, we went to the Point of Grace concert on Friday night. Peter was totally surprised and enjoyed it (even though they are now 3 singers instead of 4...) . The music was nice. It was in a decent sized church, but I felt like I was in a school gym. It was stadium styled, but it just felt so... I don't know... empty. But, hey, to each their own!

Sunday afternoon, we went to see Quantum of Solace, the new Bond movie. It was okay. I love Bond movies and I even love Daniel Craig (I think he does well as the grittier version of a newly minted Bond). That being said... I thought the theme sucked. I was so disappointed. You Know My Name (from Casino Royale) was so much better. And, not that this will come as a surprise to anyone who has read the reviews, but it is not a stand alone movie (like others in the series). You have to watch Casino Royale in order to pick up QoS, which starts about an hour after CR ends. All in all, if you add it to CR and make it one large movie, it plays well. Without CR, it's like watching a British Jason Bourne. Not that that's an insult- I love the Bourne movies. It's just different... That's not who 007 is. I'm overthinking this, I know, but I grew up on Bond movies and truly enjoy them. One final note and then I'll stop. I think this movie will lead into Daniel Craig's 007 becoming more suave and smooth, as though he is learning to be more like the Sean Connery version (which is good; Bond should be an evolution, not a once and done).

I have a doctor's appointment this afternoon, so I'd better eat (again) and get in a quick nap or I'll pass out at the office, LOL. I'm looking forward to seeing our little boy again!

My little girl...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

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Today, is 9 months since our beautiful Sophia came into our lives! It doesn't feel like 9 months; it either feels like yesterday or forever. I smile at the remembrance and cry at the loss. Our beautiful little girl... Our Gaea Sophia... Our earth wisdom and what wisdom she has been!

I remember thinking, She's Beautiful!!!, as soon as Peter put her in my arms. The world stopped and there was this beautiful, precious little angel in my arms. Her little body was larger than her brother's had been and her little fingers were all curled up. But, perhaps most beautiful, was her smile. She had this open mouthed smile, a little triangle. Like she was laughing. Which made us smile too.

Nine months, my sweet... Tonight, we'll have your special dinner and hunt down a chocolate cake fit for the princess that you are! We'll go see the new 007 movie with your paternal grandpa, who dreamed of taking you and your brother to see it, thrilled that you were going to be born in time for a new one! We'll even record the Giant's game so that we can watch you sprinkle lucky dust over your "favorite team". And they'll win of course, because it's your special day.

9 months... the gestation of a baby in the best case scenario, a lifetime when your baby dies... An eternity when you lose two...

But, for today, we celebrate what was and what might have been, and we have cake!

98dpo

Saturday, November 15, 2008

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Today is day 98 of my pregnancy with little Alexander. Day 98 is also the day that I went into labor with Nicholas. I can't believe this day is here already. I thought we had more time... How are we here already? If you could see fear, it would be a huge bubble all around me.

We've spent the day lounging around and doing absolutely nothing. I just can't bring myself to do anything- what if this is the end??? I don't want to wonder if that did something or this did something... We didn't even shower until 5pm, and then, it was only to go to Tom and Sarah's for dinner. She made a delicious zucchini lasagna, but it could have been cardboard and I would have eaten it. I just watched the time click off the clock on the oven... 7:30...7:31...7:32... Before I knew it, it was 7:44 and then 7:45... Nicholas was born...

My breath caught and I actually had to tell myself that I wasn't in labor. Alexander, by contrast, was moving all over the place, playing soccer with my bladder, and running from one side to the other. He was fine. I went to the bathroom and just cried.

I've carried Alexander hours longer than his big brother at this point. The feeling of happiness and sadness has no name. There isn't a way to describe it. So grateful and joyous for making it another day, so empty because your younger baby has passed his big brother...

It also brought back memories. Right now, I'd be in the hospital still, clinging for the hope that Sophia was going to make it. Embracing my son's body, still warm from his life on this earth. Mourning the special and sacred spirit that entered our lives and touched them with such peace and beauty...

Alex is alive and well, and day 98 is almost over. We've made it this far.

Surprises for Peter

Friday, November 14, 2008

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My hubby is such a special guy. In addition to all the reasons that I love him unconditionally, he is just super special. I realize this all the more when I read the posts in some of my message boards. For example, a recent post included the story of a woman who is on pelvic rest (i.e. no sex, etc.). Her husband is quite frustrated that she can't engage in the marital activities he enjoys and has been giving her hell about it. Meanwhile, in our household, I've put myself on pelvic rest. After we crossed the 6 week threshhold, I decided then that it was just too much of a mental strain. The what ifs of sex and possibly causing my cervix to open or anything else were too much. I talked to Peter, told him how I was feeling, how scared the entire idea of sex was to me, and you know what he said? "That's fine. Don't worry." And, instead of ever saying anything to the contrary, he holds, cuddles, and kisses, and regardless of how worked up he gets, never says anything to the effect of I can't wait to get it on again or why are we stopping??? I'm sure there are plenty of guys like him out there and I feel lucky to have him. In addition, he makes dinner when I work late, cleans the bathrooms because I hate it, and never moans about getting up super early to take the trash out because we lounged around and forgot the night before. He does laundry, irons if needed, and never complains that I toss my dirty laundry on the floor next to the hamper (okay, he complains a bit, but in jest, and always picks up the dirty clothes and puts them in the correct bin). All in all, he's wonderful, and this doesn't even begin with all of the other reasons he's my soulmate and I love him.

It's hard to give him gifts or surprises because he doesn't want a lot. He rarely says "Ooh, I want that" or "I want to go do that". He's always focused on me and what I might want to do or have. He gives and gives, and it's hard sometimes to figure out what to give him back.

His birthday was in August (my little Leo!) and I figured out the perfect gift, even though it would take a while to get back (it actually just arrived today). In our bookcase of kids books sat a book, it's cover gone from a lot of love, protected only by a cardboard "cover". It's a book called Flip by Wesley Dennis. This edition is from 1969. Peter and his little brother, Robert, grew up with this book as a favorite read- and it showed. The pages were all torn and tapes, yellowed with age. The spine was only a fragment since the cover had vanished years before. They had taken good care of the book (no crayon marks or things like that) but simply because of how read it was, it was in serious disrepair. I find a bindery in Oregan that specialized in repairing old children's books when there wasn't a lot left of the spine. I sent it off in August and it just arrived today! It's about 3 months after his birthday, but the book is beautiful. They put a black library binding on it, embossed with the title, author, and a little horse in gold. They couldnt really do much with the pages, since it's just a bindery, but they were able to repair the spine enough to rebind it. It's really awesome. I can't wait to see the look on his face when he sees it! He and Robert loved this book so much. I think it will bring fond memories for him and for years to come in our family.

His second surprise is a bit different and he'll be totally caught off guard. Peter enjoys a group called "Point of Grace". I think they are okay. It's a 4 part, women's harmony group that sings contemporary Christian music. This is more up his alley than mine (I'm much more of a celtic music sort of girl). He has several of their CDs and plays them from time to time. He has mentioned several songs that he really enjoys. Well... I was listening to the radio a few weeks ago, and they are coming in concert. Normally, I wouldnt even think of buying tickets. Peter has very sensitive hearing and the idea of a concert isn't usually appealing to him. He likes small venues, where there isnt a huge sound system, or sitting as far from stage and speakers as possible. For example, we went to the Philadelphia Symphony a few years ago and had to go to the very last row. It was still loud, but he could deal with it. (I'd be down front and center, but then again I'll probably be deaf by the time I'm 65 because of the loud music I've grown up with!) Anyway, before I ramble on... PoG is appearing at a church near Allentown. I figured this couldnt be that much louder than our church, so I bought tickets! They were quite inexpensive, and even better, he has no idea what we are doing! He just knows I have a "surprise" for him. I think I might blindfold him for the drive, LOL.

I really cant wait to see the look on his face when he sees the book, and I hope he enjoys the concert!

It's been a bit...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

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On Sunday, I had day one of the state library conference. It lasted through Wednesday, and since I barely had time to check my email, I decided I'd wait to blog until I returned. So, I am back, and all checked in with the blogs I love to watch.

Peter is terribly sick. He got his flu shot on Friday and by Monday was coming down with a cold. He hasnt taken great care of himself (although he has drank the herbal tea I've been making him). He's spent the last few nights coughing and sneezing with congestion and a stuffy nose (which means I haven't slept either...) He had a fever on Tuesday that broke around 11pm, but then last night, he had a higher fever. It broke around 2am, and he's doing better. Today, he actually took my advice and stayed home. He was so busy at work Monday-Wednesday that he wouldnt. But today... Finally! He called me at work a few times to check in (I didnt want to call and wake him up), and he sounded a little better each time. I went home midday (the joys of working close to home!) and checked on him. He's doing much better, and eating again! Since I have a special surprise for him tomorrow (can't tell you- he checks my blog every now and again!), I'm hoping he feels a lot better!

Little Alexander is one tired, hungry baby! I have to eat every 2 hours or so, or I start to feel famished... Like I will fall over if I don't eat NOW. And I'm so tired that I usually fall asleep on the couch when I get home from work, not to mention sometimes have to nap at the library! So far, just like his daddy! ;-) He's doing so well... Me, not so much (emotionally), but he is the epitome of perfection (even his doctor says so!).

Saturday is the day in pregnancy that I went into labor with Nicholas. I thought I had more time, honestly, then earlier in the week decided to look at their calendar and- sure enough- the sticker that said "It's a boy"... It was on the last day of that week... And now, here I am, nearing Saturday: the last day of this pregnancy week on the calendar. I'm a nervous wreck. I try to tell myself that Alex is so healthy and my cervix is fine, but, those were the same things I had going into February 1st... Nick and Sophie were perfectly healthy and my cervix (2 weeks before) looked normal. As normal as my cervix looked last Wednesday... I had a full blown panic attack in the kitchen. If Peter hadn't been standing next to me, I would have ended up on the floor. I just can't believe I'm already at this point again...

The flip side is that I know what my son looks like. I know that he has all his fingers and toes, that his little eyes (though moving) are closed. That his hands can wrap around our fingers and that his little body, though small, is perfect in everyway. Nicholas brought us that glimpse of an early baby, a baby alive when born, with a desperate desire to live... I know that, in 2 weeks, like his sister, Sophia, Alexander will almost double in weight from where he is today... That his skin will start to lighten as the pigment comes in, that hair will start to be visible... These are the glimpses she brought us. And these are beautiful gifts.

But I am still scared.

Last night, our church did their annual Mass for all those (from the parish) who have died in the last 12 months. Nicholas and Sophia were remembered. Their names were read, a bell was rang for each, and then we lit a candle for each. An alter server gave us a white rose, one for Nicholas and one for Sophia. It was so hard... You'd think that, 9 months later, something like this would be easier, but it isn't. But we were surrounded by friends who love us, and that was special. A friend of ours was a soloist on one of the musical pieces and he told me later, when I said how beautiful he sounded, that he was thinking of Nicholas and Sophia when he sang. The chorus said: "God will wipe the tears from our eyes and we shall see him face to face. On that day, we shall rejoice when we see God in his holy place." It was written in memory of a stillborn baby, and I often wonder if our choir director chose it because it was written for a baby. Peter's parents made the Mass as well, and it was nice to be together, even if it was for a short time.

2 more days until Saturday... I feel the fear in my chest already...

It's a BOY!!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

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I had the shock of my day today in the doctor's office. Peter and I have been pretty sure the baby was a girl. I dont know why, really, just thought the baby was a she. We knew it was probably too early (14w3d) for anatomy to be clear, so we thought nothing of today's appointment for gender looking. I should have known things would be thrown for a loop today by how easy everything was...

First, no traffic on 76. There is ALWAYS traffic on the Schuylkill. Always. None. We left at 12:45 and got to the hospital at 1:22. This is our best time, beating the traditional 40m it has taken us on the RARE day when no one else is on the road. Our appointment was at 1:45pm, so I went to the bathroom before hand, since we usually wait at least an hour to two hours to see our doc. (It's a long story, but because we are high risk, we need the ultrasound machine, which means additional waiting; add to that the fact that the OBs in Pennsylvania have been on the move and our doctor is now crammed with patients PLUS it seems like everyday we have an appointment someone goes into labor... at least an hour wait...) We get there and the waiting room is empty, save one other patient. Peter laughs that I shouldnt have peed, since I'll probably still have to pee in a cup.

No sooner have I sat down, than the nurse calls us back! And sure enough, I had to pee in the cup. But, oh ye of little faith: I'm pregnant. I can pee on demand! I do my business, return to the u/s room, and Dr. Bailey walks in! It isn't even 1:45 yet! We chat and then move into the ultrasound. As we are discussing how good the heartbeat is(167bpm) and how the baby is very healthy and a good size, etc., he says "Would you like to know the sex of the baby?" We both are stunned and say yes, as our little soccer player continues to toss and turn, legs up in the air. Dr. B. says, with a laugh, "Well, it is VERY apparent," and freezes the image, "that you are having a boy." And then he points out the penis and scrotum! IT WAS AMAZING!!! The baby is tiny still, yet he has a very clear and (when you look at the context of his size) large little penis! And, like his dad and brother, Nicholas, big feet with long toes!!!

We were both shocked a bit. Peter and I both thought girl, but it looks like our little Zoë is actually our little Alexander!!! He was very active and, because he didn't mind having his legs over his head (and open), got to see him very clearly a few times. Dr. B. even took a picture, LOL. In addition, we got some great facial shots, and another shot of the baby waving. Peter is supposed to scan these, along with the others from 2w ago, today, but we shall see. I gave him a hard time, as did his parents. Hopefully, that is enough! :-)

My cervix measured better than the last time, at 3.74, and is still in a closed T shape. AMEN! I got the prescription for P17 and have to call it in today. I start them at 16w. I am nervous, but everything is so well that I am trying to be confident, even when I am afraid. Dr. Bailey was very happy with what we saw today.

I have yoga tonight, which will be nice. Last week was SO relaxing. Little Alexander and I will get to spend some more Mommy-and-Me time!

Wow... We're having a boy... We're having our second son...
I'm still nervous, but so happy that our little one is doing well.

I believe I shall never see...something as lovely as a tree...

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Our house is surrounded by many beautiful trees: oaks, maples, firs... For a tree lover (and tree hugger) like myself, it is a wonderland (although Peter is in a little less wonder when all the leaves start falling and piling up...) The nursery is a room that shoots off of the master bedroom. It was probably initially built to be a huge closet or, as the previous folks had desired but not started, a master bath. (Which, incidentally, Peter would like to see it once our nursery needing days are done... in 20 years or so... LOL) From our bedroom, you go through the door to a small room that has been designated as Peter's closet, which enters the nursery (from main door to nursery door is possibly 2 feet; the closet section is to the right and perhaps extends 3-4 feet across). The nursery is L shaped, with the larger portion where the furniture will go and the thin, jutting out section where my rocking chair sits, with a beautiful window view over our backyard. And this particular tree...

We moved last September 15th and conceived October 27th. We had seen our reproductive endocrinologist on the 14th of September for a consult, and from the beginning (even before seeing her), when we saw this room, we both said "nursery". It was a given. It's perfect. As soon as we'd conceived, this became a room where I spent a lot of time. In darkness, in solitude, with nothing but my rocking chair... I spent many moments, rocking, holding my stomach, and looking out the window, looking at this tree, talking to Nicholas and Sophia.

I told them about the tree... How her leaves shimmered as they faded from green into red and yellow and orange, finally falling to the ground (and, since this was before Peter realized he'd need to rake those bad boys up and bag them, I told them about the carpet of autumn that laced through our backyard like a delicate crochet). As fall passed into winter, I told them of the bare branches, rained and iced, waiting for a snow that didn't fall. And then, I was no longer in my chair, and no longer watched our tree.

After Nicholas was born Feb. 1st and I was sent home on the 4th, I was on bedrest. Our good friends, Tom and Sarah, met us at the house from the hospital (this after Sarah had driven down clothes and, being the best friend she is, sat with me while Peter showered and made conversation that I dont remember but that was calming). Sarah sat and cried with me, and just held me while I lost it for a moment, then tried to talk things out to get us both calm, while Peter and Tom took our bed apart and moved it into the living room, since stairs were out of the question. We lived in our living room for those 2 weeks. The shades were closed, partly because I couldnt bear the thought that life was going on in the world outside when my son was dead and my daughter's life hung in the balance, and party because I slept all the time and the shades kept whatever light there was out. I looked out once, when Peter told me it snowed, but that was it...

After Sophia was born, I was holed up in the house for 2 months. Peter would convince me to go out for walks in the neighborhood every morning before he'd go to work, small walks because my leg muscles were in terrible shape from being flat for 2 weeks and not walking at all, not even to the bathroom. I'm sure that my eyes saw trees but my mind didn't process what was happening. I was a shell.

When I finally emerged to go to work, it was April and buds had started on the trees, but I took no notice. When I went into the nursery, I just clung to their blanket and wept. I didnt look out the window at our tree, didn't see it move from winter into spring, from spring into summer. I didn't watch the new baby buds transform into a thick covering of different shades of green. It was as though a shade had been pulled down, even as light streamed in from the life emerging outside. The room was dark and I made no effort to change that.

Finally, in the summer, we decided to pick out paint and begin the nursery's transformation. When we moved in, the room was not finished; the walls were marked with beams but there was no drywall. We chose a beautiful green paint and had the walls done. But work stopped, since baseboards to match the rest of the house had to be ordered. But Peter returned my rocking chair to it's corner by the window. And it sat empty throughout June and July.

By the end of July, we hoped that, around Peter's birthday, we would be blessed with a new addition (or two). I finally sat down in my chair in early August and finally saw our tree, bursting with green leaves... I didn't sit long, and, because of the busy times that followed, haven't really sat down until recently... In darkness, in solitude, with nothing but my rocking chair... I spent many moments, rocking, holding my stomach, and looking out the window, looking at our tree, talking to Zoë.

I tell Zoë about the tree... How her leaves shimmer as they fade from green into red and yellow and orange, as they fall to the ground below. And, in these moments, I realize that I missed seasons of our tree... I missed spring, the time of new birth, and summer, the time of life... And this makes me think of all that I have lost, even as I begin a new cycle and a new life...

And so, I am left with this tree... This beautiful tree that I shared with my son and my daughter, that I share now with my new baby, growing within. My little mustard seed that is growing into her own kind of tree.

I believe that I shall never see...something as lovely as a tree...

14w ultrasound

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

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It's odd how certain things can set a person off... I'm trying to get through the day... I got up and got ready, voted, got to work... I didn't pack a lunch but I know where I'm going to eat, so that's done. I've got a to do list... Yet, the only real thing on my mind is tomorrow: the 14w ultrasound.

With Nicholas and Sophia, I was seeing our OB every 3 to 3.5 weeks. It was a normal pregnancy, everything was great, there was no need to see the doctor more frequently. Our 14w ultrasound came and went. They were playing together! It was so beautiful to see. I remember Peter and I in utter amazement. He had missed the 10w ultrasound because of work and had only seen the photographs, but this one... It was thrilling to watch him watch them. We were due for our next one at almost 18w... When everything changed. We never saw Nicholas and Sophia play together again... The next ultrasound we had was in a bright, ER, and it was just our baby girl, looking so lonely without her brother, swimming around in an area that had recently been more snug, now so big. We were ultrasounded every day and each day we saw her, I remember a feeling of utter joy: our baby girl is doing well!!! and utter loss and sorrow: our son has died, her brother has died... she is alone...

And now, tomorrow, is our 14w ultrasound for Zoë. Will she still be alright? Will this be the last time we see her playing? Oh God, I can't even bear the thought of losing her... It's too much... I know I will see her 12 days later, but still... the fear that pulsates: is this the end, will we lose her, is everything we are doing enough... it plagues me today. And I am so afraid of what tomorrow will bring. Normally, I am so thrilled for the ultrasound days because I can see her again and they are comforting in the midst of all my fear. I think the next few are going to be rough as we get closer to 20w... Somehow, I have it that if I can just hit 20w, just be more pregnant that I was before... Then Zoë will be okay! I know there are no guarantees, but I just keep praying. X more weeks, Lord. Please, just let us hit 36 weeks... Please...

I'm trying to relax. Until last night, I was still feeling the yoga benefits and felt everything was fine. My weeks are pretty busy, which is a good thing, because they help the days go by quicker. I keep telling myself one week at a time, and before I know it it will be Thanksgiving week and I'll be off! Since we can't go to Tennessee right now, I will be relaxing at home, working on the nursery, working on the Christening gown. Just being... Journaling... Talking to Zoë, loving her, hold her... The hard part is getting to 17w1d, when Nicholas was born. 17w1d for Zoë is the 24th. Sophia was born 19w2d, which means Dec. 9th. I'm trying to think of Christmas as a happy time. We'll be 21w4d. While it's not the 24 weeks that we need for her to have a chance, it's closer... 24 weeks is only the beginning, though... Jan. 11th is still too early...

Part of me is afraid of a February birth, too... How little she would still be... Nicholas's 1st birthday is 27w... Sophia's is 29w1d... I just want this little one to have a long, healthy life, to (as the Irish say) see her grandchildren's grandchildren... That is my prayer...

We are getting through this, one day at a time... That is all that we can do. I have to believe Zoë is alright. If I don't then I have nothing to hope in at this point. I know that Nicholas and Sophia are watching over her, adding their prayers to mine as they intercede for her, for all of us, in heaven.

Tomorrow morning, we will wake up with a new president elect... And Peter and I will have our 14w ultrasound. In spite of how divided our country is, our little Zoë overshadows everything else for us.

Another week over, another just begun...

Monday, November 3, 2008

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We are officially 14w1d. Officially second trimester. When the risk of loss goes down "significantly"... Yet, I still have that fear... I lost Nicholas and Sophia in the second trimester due to premature labor... Nothing can tell me that won't happen. But, on the same hand, my fear is starting to get quieter... Still there, but I truly feel like we are doing so much, all that we can do. I eat well, I now do yoga for stress management, I see our doc every 2w, I'm starting the P17 shots in 2w and they have a history of helping stop preterm labor in some women, my cervix is being monitored every 2w... Medically, we are doing all that we can do. That has to mean something, right?

I still feel somewhat relaxed from yoga on Wednesday night... I am looking forward to this week... We see Dr. Bailey at on Wednesday, then I'll probably nap the afternoon away before going to class... Thursday is our Bradley class... Busy baby week, but good things. :-) Friday, we are even having some dear friends from Church for dinner, and Saturday night we are babysitting the 10yo and 5yo of great friends, so that they can go out for a date. The kids are coming Saturday afternoon and hanging out through Sunday morning... Of course, then I leave for the PaLA conference... So it will be a busy work week! :-) But that is okay... Busy weeks mean we pass another week and I feel a bit more confident...

So yesterday, some landscapers came to do some yard stuff. We were growing some trees (trees that had started growing on their own and we'd decided to keep and try to transplant for the 3 we've lost this year due to weather, maybe there were 6 or so baby trees growing). Well, we get home last night from the store, and I notice there is a large pile of leaves in the area where the trees were. So I say to Peter, you did tell them to leave our trees alone, right? He says yes, but starts to walk back there, telling me that they had piled the leaves because it was getting too moist yesterday to finish up. I'm walking with him, it's dusk and getting dark, and I see a tree, on it's side, in the leaf pile. "Is that tree cut?" I ask. He says he's not sure. Well, I get there first and the first thing I notice is that an entire section of trees were cut down, two of the growing trees, gone. He picks up some leaves, and sure enough, the stem is cut. I start bawling. Like a little kid whose puppy has died. If anyone was outside, they would have heard me wailing. So he's trying to clear off leaves and he's pulling up tree after tree, cut. Finally he finds one. Still rooted. He's trying to calm me down, but I am in hysterics by this point, on the verge of puking, and crying about how our babies have been killed. (I know, it sounds nuts). So then, I'm asking about our "twin tree" (a single tree that early had sprouted two trunks; this tree had started growing in March, after Nicholas and Sophia had died, and I thought of it as "their" tree). He starts digging and finds it, cut, dead, murdered... An entire new wave of wailing begins. He has to bring me inside, crying like a baby, before I started puking, I'm crying so hard. He goes out and starts bagging up leaves to try and find any trees underneath, but it gets so cold and dark (not to mention, he filled up our two spare trashcans and our big one is almost full and pickup isnt until Friday morning), he has to come in. I was a basketcase. Just so upset. I dont know what he'll do, I'm sure call and ask WTF they were thinking cutting our trees. He found two new sprouts, but still, sprouting in winter- their chances are poor because the weather is going to drop so soon. I think we may transplant them now, in the hopes they can root in their new home before the next freeze. Our original plan was to let the others root so that we could transplant them in spring, with a good root system. But we shall see. Oh, the tears. It was such a long night.

9 months...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

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Ah, my son, my precious boy... Today is nine months since your precious little body emerged from mine in an explosion of emotion and an outpouring of love. I held you, cradled you, talked to you... The memories, though sad at times, are some of the happiest of my life. Nine months ago... And then, almost as quickly as you entered it, you were gone, transformed into a new life, and now, on All Saint's Day, on the Day of the Dead, on this day after Halloween, when many believe that the souls of those who have left us return for a visit, I mourn your passing and celebrate your life, the months we had with you before we ever held your delicate skin and kissed your sweet face, and the moments we had embracing you and holding you near us.

How I miss you. How each moment is an eternity without you. How each step is a forced one because you are not here. How, oh how, I love you. With all that I am and ever will be.