Here we go again...

Friday, February 27, 2009

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Saw Dr. Lee for the fun "period" appointment. My polycystic ovaries are playing their game with multiple follicles all over the place, the biggest at 5mm, left side. I got weighed (always fun) and then had blood drawn before the ultrasound. Since things seem to be back to their regular, I-dont-work-the-way-I'm-supposed-to selves, Dr. Lee would like me to do 225 of the Gonal-F tonight, Sunday, and Tuesday. Back on Thursday for another ultrasound. In the past, it has taken me between 7 and 9 injections to ovulate, so that would put us around the 11th-13th of March. Which means another month of this game. But, this time, I've decided to chart my BBT (temperature) in the mornings. This morning: 96.6. I realize that I should have started on day 1 instead of day 3, but I didn't get the brilliant idea until last night. Maybe this will at least show me something during the 2ww when I am finding a symptom in everything.

I'm so tired. I didn't sleep last night and I'm so crampy. The one thing about PCOS that really is a blessing and a curse- I'm not used to menstruating. And this cramping- my sympathies to all of you ladies who deal with this regularly. It sucks. On top of coming off a stomach bug and the whole BFN and the work stress. Just not doing well today. Need to sleep.

Would you like a prayer card?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

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In an earlier post, I shared a prayer that I wrote after our twins. Peter and I actually had it made into prayer cards for our work with the Respect Life Committee, namely the bereavement portion. We ordered some to use at church, but, I'd be happy to send some out to the moms (and dads) who struggle with the hurt. You don't have to be Catholic, either; I think that Mary is quite an example to bereaved parents regardless of your faith.

Just email me at michele dot haytko at gmail dot com with your address and I'll post them (even internationally) :)

For those looking for the referenced post (which has a picture of the cover art and the prayer) click here.

Perspective

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A month ago, I thought that Dr. Lee would give me progesterone to induce a cycle. We would start the pills on the 9th, stop them on the 19th, and mensturation would start somewhere between the 20th and the end of the month. March would come, and we would be excited to start out the journey again.

But now, that idea is foreign, hurtful, agonizing. Because February 9th changed everything. And, even with the knowledge that you really NEED a cycle after labor and delivery before trying again, we still wanted to so much. And so we did. And now we are heartbroken. And I cant help but ask myself why when, a month ago, this is what we thought would happen. This was "the plan". How many times, after the 9th, 10th, and 11th, did I say how shocked I was... How this wasn't what we thought would happen... So many times... And I thought it even more.

Yet, I'm sad. My husband cried with me. We held each other, confused and scared, left wondering "what happened???"

Last night, after Ash Wednesday Mass and choir practice, as we walked to our car, Peter stopped and hugged me. Someone from a distance might have looked and said "How cute," as they saw a man embracing his wife. What they wouldn't have seen is how rigid his wife was, how she didn't return the hug until her husband said "Don't you want to hug me too?", how the hug was the last ditch effort to salvage a night that was falling apart.

During that same hug, Peter whispered "I'm sorry." Perhaps the couple walking by us would have heard him say those two little words and laughed to themselves about the lover's quarrel that sparked penitence. I'm sorry. Never would they have imagined a man saying to his wife "I'm sorry... that your period started."

It's just the perspective, I suppose.

Medications Ordered

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I'm sure my insurance company loves me. They just paid $2100 (to my $40 copay) for 2 Gonal F pens and an Ovidrel pen. Fun times.

I dont even freaking believe this

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

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My period just started. I haven't had the news for an hour and already...

Negative

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The test was negative. I don't even know what to say. I guess just another case of my body screwing up.

I can't post right now. I can't even think.

13dpo

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

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So, here we are, on the eve of our "big" bloodwork. Peter and I both feel we are expecting baby #4 (and possibly #5, too). 8:30am tomorrow.... Eighteen and a half more hours to go...

Last night was a rough night. We cried and cried. I think a certain amount of time goes by and then you realize how severe your loss is. It was about the 3 month mark with our twins and yesterday, it was the three month mark with our cuddlebug. Oh, the tears. The hurt. The utter anguish. We just held each other and wept. We read through parts of Alexander's journal and cried some more. We watched a tiny candle flicker on the brownie his father bought to remember our son with after his special dinner and sobbed. And then, we felt that sense of peace and hope that he brought to us in his pregnancy and life. We wrote in his journal and then held each other as we fell asleep.

Thank you for remembering Alex with us. As long as we each remember each other's children, they will never be forgotten.

3 months...

Monday, February 23, 2009

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Remember with me, if you would, this special little boy, who gave my broken heart the strength to beat again and shared so much of his peaceful spirit with his father and I... It feels like just yesterday that I was holding him in my arms, not three months ago. How the time goes by, even when you desperately want to stop it.

Please say a prayer for our cuddlebug and hold him in your heart today.

Mary, Help of Orphaned Parents

Sunday, February 22, 2009

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I wrote this after Nick and Sophie died, in a rare moment of lucidity among so much grief. It is fitting today, on the eve of Alexander's 3 month birthday, and as Nikki celebrates her daughter Alyssa's first birthday among the angels and saints. (Click here to remember with her.)



Mary, Help of Orphaned Parents

Blessed Mother, In our times of utter despair, we cling to your arms and join our sufferings to your mother’s heart. As we mourn our children, help us to find comfort in your strength. No parent wants to bury their child, as you know. Help us to find understanding through your journey. You have tread this path before us and you survived your heartache. Help heal our hearts. You made it through the endless pain that accompanies the death of a child. Help us through our pain. We know that the emptiness in our lives is eternal; our children are irreplaceable. Help us to accept that our precious ones answered God’s call to join Him in His heavenly kingdom. Help us to find comfort and, even when we least expect it, moments of joy in knowing that our children are safe, loved, and happy. Holy Mother, we ask that you hold our children close to you, as you cradled your own precious son. We ask you to mother them until we are with them again. We bring these petitions to your feet, with the beautiful memories of our children, and in the sacred name of your son, Jesus. Amen.

I miss my babies

Friday, February 20, 2009

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I miss them so much right now. My head pounds, my heart aches, and my whole body feels numb. I've spent the last few minutes in a ball in my office, alone, not knowing how to breathe, let alone how to survive. I think the last 2 weeks has really caught up with me. The lack of guarantees... The feeling that I'm letting my life go on when I don't want it to. I want it to be 13 months ago, when my twins were still inside of me, only I want it to be triplets so that I can have my little Alex, too. I don't want the world to move on. I'd take January 31, 2008 forever. Please? Can't I have it back? Even for a second?

And yet, every day does go on. The sun still comes up and then sets so that the moon can make her appearance. I get a day closer to my June birthday and Peter gets a day closer to his August one. Our children are a day older, a day farther from when they were born, farther from when we were able to hold them inside- safe, warm, loved... alive.

I miss them everyday, but especially today. And I know why. The anniversary of their Memorial Service is a little over a month away. And I'll be attending a baby shower on that day. Normally, I would have declined, but she is a dear friend who lost two babies to early miscarriage. We were pregnant together. She was excited when I found out Alexander was on the way and I joked that he and her Lucy would play together. She's over the halfway point of her pregnancy and is due in early June, a little bit over a month after Alexander's EDD. We were supposed to walk through the parks together, pushing our baby carriages. And now... Now, that won't happen.

I am happy for her. Truly, deep down, I am. I've bought Lucy gifts already (I just can't help it! I've been with her for this pregnancy every step of the way and feel like this little girl is my neice.) But that doesn't stop the fact that I know a baby shower full of happy people who think that nothing could ever go wrong isn't going to hurt. She knows the truth; she knows that things do go wrong and she, unfortunately, deals with these folks on a regular basis. But still... It's going to hurt and I'm not sure how to protect myself from that yet. All I know is that I will be going. Nothing could keep me away.

I've declined invitations for the showers of others, but it wasn't because I wasn't happy for them. I was. I just couldn't deal with the unbridled happiness and the thought that all would be well because, hey, things like "that" happen to other people, not to me. I just couldn't do it. Is it wrong to feel like that doesn't apply because she knows better so I can get through the shower???

If the shower were on another day, I think things would be different and I would be more okay with it. It's because it falls on 3/29, a day that will always remind me of their Memorial Mass and all that followed, a day that is reserved, in my head, for Nicholas and Sophia, that I feel like I'm so unsettled about it.

But maybe that isn't it. Maybe it's just because I can only hold in how much I miss them for so long before I shut down and it all comes out. I have to pretend to have it together at work and everywhere else that, when I can no longer play the role of the "strong woman", I just crack and crumble into a hundred pieces.

I had a bad meeting with my boss earlier in the week. She basically told me that my "peers" at the main library think that, over the last year, I've become a bitch and that I have no patience with their mistakes anymore, that my personality is no longer bubbly and happy all the time, and that, and this is a direct quote, "the last year is no excuse for your bad behavior." While my work is impeccable and my branch runs without a hitch (she stressed that my staff love me and wrote glowing reviews for me in their self performance reviews (which have a question about their supervisor) and my patrons are happy and well treated), she wants me to "take a breath and step back, and realize that other employees have issues. You just have to deal with those and not bring it up to them." Are you freaking kidding me? Really?

I don't even know why I am still here. I didn't walk out because I'd promised one of my staff that I'd do a meeting for her the next day and didn't want to cancel that. But overall, I dont know why I am still here. It's obvious: the paycheck. But even that. It's not worth it anymore. I used to love the library and now... Now, it's a job that stresses me out and keeps me awake at night, has me cry myself to sleep, and keeps me on edge all the time. I try to talk to Peter about it and that doesn't work because we are never on the same page. Part of me holds things against him that I shouldn't. After Nicholas and Sophia were born, I told him how I didn't want to go back to work. He said okay at first, but then as the weeks went on, told me that we wouldn't be able to see Dr. Lee (due to the cost) and how he wasn't sure how things would work out, financially, due to some other outside financial stresses that are on us that I dont want to go into and that are another source of argument between us. Obviously, I got the feeling that he "wanted" me to go back to work. We've talked about it; he swears that was never his intent, but, inside, I still harbor those conversations and can't convince myself, in spite of his pleadings now, to quit. If he said he didn't mean it that way, then that's the truth, I have no doubt of that, but I still can't let it go. I was all square to leave in April with Alexander's pregnancy, but now... Now, who knows...

I don't know... Like I said, the last 2 weeks, with the ovulation/IUI, the shower invite, and the continued bad work situation have all caught up to me. I just need a break. I need to feel like I can just be me and stop being someone else at work and then trying to get back to me at home. And that feels like it isn't an option right now. Add onto that the thought that I **might** be pregnant again and the fears surrounding that, and I feel like a mess of emotions that I can't express because, God forbid, someone else might see.

But, then again, I guess that's what this blog is for.

Thank you...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

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In honor of Nicholas and Sophia's one year birthdays, we decided to make a donation in their memories. We wanted to honor the emergency services personnel who made such an impact on us and who continue to do so much for our community: the EMS, Police Dept., Fire Dept., and the Fire Chaplain. After a lot of thought, we decided to give a $100 donation in their honors to the local Lutheran Church, where the Fire Chaplain in the pastor. I mailed out cards to each of them, thanking them on the one year anniversary of service to our family and letting them know that a donation had been made to the Chaplain's church.
We received a letter from the church today. They thanked us for our gift, in their words, "in honor of Nick and Sophie's first birthdays". God, it was wonderful to read those words. We had asked that the donation be used with their children's ministry. Well, they went beyond what we thought. They matched the donation and contributed to Baby Manna, a food bank they support that helps babies born into poverty in the Delaware Valley. What a beautiful thing...

On top of that, our dear friends, Katie and John, sent a beautiful card, remembering our twins with us. We were both so touched and I broke down in the living room, so thankful for everyone who remembers with us. I placed the card and letter in their box, along with the V- family's cards for them and our cards for them. They are part of the memories and I treasure them so much.

Foster Meeting

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So the social worker from Catholic Social Services came over last night for the in-home interview. Peter and I took off work early so we could make the 4pm meeting time she wanted and, because God has a sense of humor, she didn't arrive until 5pm because of the traffic leaving the City. You have to love the Blue Route... So, we spent the hour watching the History Channel (wait... I watched the HC, Peter took a nap in my lap.) She was with us until nearly 7pm.

The first part of the interview was some background about us. Basically, a review of the first application. She asked about our jobs. She asked if we had a preference for ages/races (we don't). She explained about how some of their kids come into care and the work surrounding it. (Meetings 2x/month plus visits from the assigned case worker 2x/month, doctor visits, school enrollment, etc.) One of the big perks is that they will pay for Catholic school entirely. And, if for some reason, that didn't work out, we have the highest rated elementary school in the district within walking distance. On the bad side, they don't permit homeschooling, which is sad because that is the route we've wanted to take for a long time. But, at least both the public elementary and our church's school are top rated. That's something.

She explained the process and what comes next (formal application, 3 background checks, financial check, and 6 training classes). The next trainings are in March, so I have to email today and get the dates. Otherwise, the next are in May, which wouldn't work if I am indeed pregnant and need the cerclage at the end of April. So, better to do it now.

She did a tour of the house and made notes about things. Our first floor linen cabinet was a mess. I meant to clean it and organize it, but didn't get around to it. I was so embarrassed. She didn't seem to mind. Everyone will be happy to know that both toilets, both showers, and all of our sinks work. I know you were worried. :) (Peter was actually taken aback that she checked all the water sources, but I tried to explain afterwards that she was just doing her job).

She asked us about our children and stopped and looked at their pictures upstairs for a long time. We explained that they were premature and had passed away because of that. She said that she's met people who've gone through similar, but they didn't have pictures out. She said that she was really sorry, but that she truly believed that they were gifts from God. I was really worried about her response to them, but that put me at ease.

Afterwards, she seemed to think that things went well and that she will try to get our formal application in the mail by next week! She'll also mail out the letter to our pastor (you have to have a pastor's recommendation) and, in the formal application, we have to provide several references for them to contact. I'm not sure yet how many or how long we will have to have known them/in what capacity we know them, etc., but we will soon find out.

We are both still really nervous. But we still feel called to this avenue. While we were in our meeting, the emergency phone rang. A three year old was being removed from his home and placed in a foster home. His "parents" (and I use that word loosely) had left him alone for a week. A three year old. A little boy. I wanted to cry on the spot for that little one. But, thankfully, they had a home ready and he was on his way there when the case worker called to update the social worker (who happens to be a supervisor). She shared another story of a 6 year old whose father beat him. It really makes your stomach turn that people can be this cruel to their children... I just can't fathom it. But, because of that, that's why we are here, I suppose. And, I'm sure, for every horror story there is the story of a homeless family or a family who can't support their children or a family where one parent has died and the other can't cope or a parent who is addicted and is trying to get help and straighten out.

All we can do is our best, but I do fear for our hearts. But, as Peter says, it isn't about us, it's about them. It's about that child who needs a safe, loving home- be it for a day or for a lifetime. Parenting should be about that, not about us and our heartbreak. We've been contemplating and praying and considering and thinking on this for years. Years. We have survived the ultimate heartbreak. We will survive any heartbreaks on this journey, too.

On an unrelated note, I had some fasting bloodwork done this morning. Always fun. I haven't had the Hashimoto's checked since Alexander's birth and Dr. Lee asked that I have those levels and my sugars checked. My veins had (almost) forgotten the fun of getting stuck on a regular basis. Those results should be back by Monday, I would assume. And then Wednesday is the next big blood test. My nerves are on end, but all we can do is pray and hope. TMI: I have some cervical mucus. I read that during this phase if I were on my way to my period, I should be "dry". I'm trying to take the CM as a good sign. You'd think that after 3 babies, I'd be an old hat at this, but I still have no clue what "signs" are good and which aren't. Infertility makes you distrust your body at every turn. But, I'm trying to think positive!

Sophia's First Birthday

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

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We invited family over on the 15th for Sophia's birthday eve dinner. Peter's parents and his aunt, along with Nicholas and Sophia's godparents were in attendance. My dad had a dental emergency earlier in the week and was still under the weather, so he opted to stay home. For our little princess, I made a pink and purple castle cake.


We began the 16th with her birthday Mass. Quite a few of our friends came. It's so wonderful to remember our children with others. I'm so grateful for our friends who don't shy away from our children, but celebrate them with us. It means so much to Peter and I. For her actual birthday, we had hoped to spend another day together, relishing in our memories and remembering our special little girl, but sadly, Peter's great-aunt passed away. Her birthday was actually the 16th also; she died on Valentine's Day, in her late 70s. The funeral was on Long Island, so we left after breakfast and drove out.
On the way home, we still wanted to go to the beach and take pictures of us with their box. Where better than Coney Island in Brooklyn! Peter's grandparents and parents spent many a day on Coney Island, and I've been begging to go for nearly 11 years. (To a southern girl like me, Coney Island is the "real" New York pasttime!) So, we went! The amusement park was closed, of course, and it was cold and windy, but it was a birthday befitting a child. :) We walked around and looked at all the sights, like the Cyclone (the famous wooden rollercoaster) and the Wonder Wheel.

And, what visit to Coney Island would be complete with stopping at the original Nathan's! Peter and I walked the block from the boardwalk to the old fashioned building and stood in line with the throngs of others out for a good hotdog. Even us vegetarians couldn't stay away! (And, I craved Nathan's during the twins' pregnancy, so it was fitting.) Afterwards, we went next door to the candy shop and I ate a caramel apple and bought some cotton candy for home.


And then, back to the boardwalk and then the beach we went. The wind was fierce, but as the sun set over the New York sealine, I swear you could hear the laughter of children (especially one little girl...) in the breeze and smell the smell of baby powder in the sea air.
When we arrived home, several hours later, I broke down in the car. At times, the reality of their deaths hits me so hard, as though I didn't know and suddenly woke up. I cried so hard that I was on the verge of puking and Peter... perfect, perfect Peter... just held me until I could stand on my own and walk into the house. We lit Sophia's birthday candle and opened her cards (plural... in addition to our card, our dear friends J, E, L, & D created beautiful birthday cards for both Nicholas and Sophia!). We sang happy birthday and watched the candle flicker before her daddy put it out. We ate her special dinner and then had some of her cake. And once again, we talked about our special daughter and how much we love her.
My dear sweet Sophia... My beautiful little girl. Looking into your face and seeing my own was one of the greatest of treasures because now, whenever I look in the mirror, I can always see a piece of you looking back.
After your big brother was born and went to heaven, you were what kept me going. It was being your mother- for as long a time or a short a time as we had- that gave me the will to live. If I was breathing, you were breathing. If I laughed, then you laughed. I laid in bed for those 2 weeks, hands constantly on my belly, feeling you move from side to side. When you were tired, you would curl up under my hands and fall asleep. How wonderful that feeling was, especially in the wake of such loss. But I can only imagine how much you missed your brother... your friend... your playmate... your other half. Your daddy understands, I'm sure, so much more than I.
The night before you were born, my entire body ached. I think, on some level, I knew your birth was going to come sooner than the 24w pregnancy mark that I was praying we'd get to. But, consciously, I don't think I thought that. Your daddy, sweet man that he is, rubbed my back all night, so that I could try and sleep. At 2pm the next afternoon, my water broke. The pain was intense and, sensing a problem, your father called the same EMTs who were with us after your brother's birth. They arrived within moments and took such good care of us. While in route to our house, the chief called the helicopter, who met us at the local school. Your dad rode in the helicopter with us and we were at the hospital in less than 15 minutes. There was a light snowfall and the sky was so blue... It was almost like summer...
The doctors couldn't stop my labor once an ultrasound revealed that you had started your descent from my womb. Had we gone to the hospital that night before, could we have saved you? That question plagued me (and plagues me still), even though I know your labor was my body's way of trying to save you. The infection that had hit your placenta would have made carrying you impossible and would have made you sick; in their attempts to save you, the doctors who cut your brother's umbilical cord so high left just enough to get an infection. They did their best and that gave us 2 more weeks with you; how grateful I am for that time.
Your labor was hard. I was afraid I wouldn't survive. The pain was great, but it was magnified by my broken heart. Your daddy was by my side the entire time, helping me breathe, being the solace in the storm of fear and uncertainty. When you crowned, he was there to catch you. I can still see his face, the most beautiful expression of fatherly love, as he watched you enter this world and held you in his hands. The nurses were there soon after to cut your cord. He quickly baptized you and held you until you journeyed to meet your brother whom, I'm sure, met you with open arms.
When your father put your perfect little bundle into my arms, I wept with joy at the face of my daughter... My beautiful daughter... How was it that you chose me to be your mother? That I was given such a wonderful gift? A million thank yous.
We held you and sang to you, wept and laughed, memorized every curve. I remember the softness of your skin, your smell, the way your forehead felt under my lips as I kissed you what must have been thousands of times. What I wouldn't give for that feeling now.
My princess, Sophia... I love you more than words can say. Happy Birthday, my dear little girl. Happy Birthday.

7dpo

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This morning, I drove to Dr. Lee's for the first round of bloodtests. Our nurse just called with the results: progesterone 18.5. I know I should be grateful for anything over 15, but I was really hoping for something in the 20s to give me hope... I know that this only means I ovulated and that 7dpo progesterone tests are not indicative of pregnancy. I was 18.4 on 5dpo with Alexander and 34 on 7dpo with Nicholas & Sophia. I shouldn't compare, but in my mind... Higher is better and I was focusing on 20+. The 18.5 has my nerves on end. My next appointment in next week, 14dpo for the hCG test and another progesterone test. I'm trying to be thankful for the little things: at least it isn't 15. It was 18.5. The nurse told me that my results were "good". Okay. Breathe. It's okay.

Tonight is our rescheduled CSS meeting. The woman is coming at 4pm. Already, I'm a nervous wreck for that, too. I'm sure it will be fine, but still... I'm all nerves.

And on top of that, a horrible day at work yesterday. More on that later...

Happy Birthday, Sophia

Monday, February 16, 2009

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Happy birthday, Sophia, my dear sweet girl. We love you very much.

Ramblings...

Friday, February 13, 2009

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My life was made better, not worse, in 2008. I gave birth to three beautiful children. No, I can't watch them grow up, marry, have children, live their lives as reflections of me... But, I can't change their deaths. And I wouldn't change the short lives they had because, in those moments, they accomplished so much. Have I, in nearly 3 decades, done more? Have any of us touched more people than our children have? You see me, but who you really see is their mother. I'm no longer defined by the shades of gray that my life was built on; I'm the rainbow of colors that being their mother has made me. God, how grateful I am for that.

The sorrow is so numbing at times. The anguish, hell, even the anger. It's a deeper suffering than anything I have ever known in my entire life. And yet, in their lives and deaths, I have found meaning in my life. Purpose to be their parents, even though they are beyond my physical grasp. A desperate need to be a better person. To do the things that are important in life. To tell Peter how much I love him and to try to stop nagging him for the little things he does that drive me bananas but, in the grand scheme of things, aren't worth the fight they turn out to be. To live for them, the way I thought they might one day live for me.

When we went to Dr. Lee's office, I expected more time. Time to ponder and decide, to wait and see what happens. I didn't expect to have my time table sped up. How this mimics so much of 2008. Yet, I am able to look at today with that sense of "Oh, this isn't what I'd planned" and be grateful for the opportunity instead of looking at it with "Ugh, this isn't what I'd planned" and thinking of the time I needed to prepare because my heart just isn't quite ready for the journey. I look back to a year ago and think "This can't be" and crumble because of all the missed opportunities with Nicholas and Sophia; I remember 3 months ago and fall apart because of the lack of time I had with Alexander. I'll always wonder what could have been and miss them with every fiber of my being. But I feel like I can't let the joy of their lives be overshadowed by my longing and sorrow. How many times have we seen people who can't embrace the love and light for all the sadness they harbor? I just can't be that person. I can't be. If I am, then someone might see me and not their mother...

I think what has caused my mind to trek in these directions are some comments I've received. I'm tired of hearing how a new pregnancy/baby will make me feel better and lift me from my sadness. Do people really think that? Do they think that another child suddenly takes the pain of losing children away? The thing that really hit was someone told me that my mood has improved- am I pregnant. Are you freaking kidding me??? Why do people link the mothers of dead children to happiness only if they have the chance to have more (living) children? Do we perpetuate the myth because we do continue to try to expand our families? I can't believe that. And then I worry... Do people think that we are trying to replace Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander? Do they not realize that, regardless of whether they were still living with us that we would still want a larger family? Is it the timing? I admit, I probably wouldn't be seeking aggressive fertility treatments if I had three babies at home, but I wouldn't use birth control either. I'm also tired of hearing how "young" I am. I'll be 29 in June and, time wise, that is young. I get that. But I've been with my husband for 11 years. 11. That's a long time. That's longer than most Hollywood marriages even last. With certain health issues not on my side, it isn't like I can just pop out a baby whenever I'm so inclined. I wish I could say to people, "Stop telling me how you delayed your childbearing into your 30s/40s and how I should just wait." On top of it not being that easy, it's also none of their business. The worst comment I've received this last week, though, was the one that I'm struggling most to come to terms with. Someone asked me what I'm doing this weekend and I mentioned that it is Sophia's birthday, and that we are having her birthday dinner with family on Sunday night, then her Mass on Monday morning and spending the day together alone. The woman kept shaking her head and asked "Are you going to do this every year?" I replied that, yes, we planned on it. Continuing with the head shaking, she said, "I really wish you'd just stop and let this all go. You're never going to be able to move on with your life if you keep remembering them."

I have to say that I was struck speechless (and for those who know me outside of the virtual world, you know how odd that is). Move one with my life... How does one move on after their child has died, let alone after three children have died... Have any of us moved on? Do those who don't do birthday remembrances fare better than those who do? Who the hell even dreams of moving "on" when it's the memories we have that keep us going at all? I couldn't say anything. I didn't know what to say. I just turned and walked out. I mean, were there really even any words possible?

I don't want to move on if moving on means forgetting. I'd rather remember and be joyous because of my memories. I don't want to take their photos down because you are uncomfortable; it is in seeing them that I find my will to live. I don't want to not talk about them because you can't see the worth to their lives; if not for them, I wouldn't be me.

Forgive me, but I'm going to quote Yoda. I'll admit, I'm not a sci-fi fan, but I grew up on Star Wars and Peter has all 6 of them. In Episode III (the final movie to be made), there is a scene where Yoda and Anakin Skywalker (who, we all know, goes on to become supervillan, Darth Vader) are discussing Anakin's fears surrounding the deaths of those he loves. Yoda's dialogue is along the lines of, "The fear of loss is a path to the dark side... Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them, do not. Miss them, do not... Let go of everything you fear to lose."

What is it about death that frightens us so much? Is it the unknown? That we hope our views on an afterlife are true, but deep down, we are afraid that we are wrong? That there really is nothing?

I was so afraid of dying. God only knew what was on the other side and, if I were wrong, maybe there was no other side at all. I have deep, spiritual encounters with the Divine. It's one of the things I really love about myself. I enjoy the study of religion and the rituals surrounding spirituality. Even with that, the fear was palatable. With our children, the idea that I could ever lose them... Well, that was outside the realm of possibility! Our pregnancies were perfect and they were healthy... I never even considered their deaths. When Nicholas died, the world was turned upside down. Our little boy... One precious hour... No, that could never be enough. Surely, something was wrong and they'd confused us with someone else... Because we still held Sophia, I didn't feel like I could mourn my son because ,what if that caused her to feel unwanted... what if it made her sad and she died... what if... So, I wept in small portions and held onto my daughter, to the knowledge that, of course, she'd be alright. I mean, she had to be. The doctors gave us so slim a chance of even going home with her that, when that happened and she was still safely tucked inside. When her labor began... When the u/s showed that she had dropped... When the knowledge that we were going to have precious few moments came... Even then, I held on to the hope that she'd be okay. Her loss hit me like a ton of bricks. You would think that this would have prepared me in some way for Alexander, but no. I was convinced that it was inconceivable that I would lose a third child. Fate couldn't be so cruel to give and then to take away. Not again. I was unprepared. Yet, when the time of his birth came, it was then that I found peace... The loss was just as great, but the moments were clearer. I was awake and not in the grief-induced fog of Sophia's labor or the shock after Nicholas's.

And then, in one of the early days following Alexander's birth, as Peter and I looked for something to fill the emptiness, some cable channel ran the Star Wars movies and we turned them on. And Yoda, with his thoughtful quips and Buddhist wisdom, shares the tidbit I quoted about. "Rejoice for those who have died and gone to the Force... Mourn them do not..." Rejoice, don't mourn. Rejoice because they are now the breeze that cools you, the wind that rings the windchimes outside your window. Rejoice because they are the rain that kisses you and the stars that watch over you. Rejoice because they are a part of you that lives on and you are a part of them that has gone on. Rejoice...

I still mourn. I mourn what could have/should have/might have been. I mourn my life, empty in so many ways because they are not with me physically. I mourn my husband, for the little innocence he had left was stripped away. I mourn the mother I could have been and would have desperately tried to be, while trying to be grateful for the mother I remain.

But there has to be sunlight in these dark days. There has to be warmth in the chill I have the is so cold it burns me from the inside out. If there isn't, then I really am no better than I was before I became a mother, and I refuse to believe that.

Bittersweet Symphony

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

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So today was the big day! It's a happy day but also a sad day. A bittersweet day.

Eight years ago, I came home from the hospital, crestfallen and heartbroken, after an exam and ultrasound failed to find the baby that a home pregnancy test had revealed with a faint positive line several weeks before. The doctor's best guess was a chemical pregnancy that never developed beyond that possible moment in time when the faint line was visible or that the test was wrong and I'd never been pregnant. He even surmised that it could have been a tubal pregnancy that didn't grow, but knowing what I know now, I highly doubt that scenario. We were young and without insurance, so we put off visiting the doctor until we felt we really couldn't put it off, and instead of leaving with the happy news of a growing baby and an ultrasound picture to share, we were left broken. I think I believed for a long time that there was no greater heartbreak than the one I had that day. Today is that day. February 11th. I remember Peter holding me while I cried... Thinking I'd never get out of bed again... So very sad. The years have gone by but I still remember that ache and the "Why?" and the feelings of not understanding.

A year ago, our twins were born. Today was a Monday. Two days before my follow-up with the MFM doctors. I was in bed, sleeping a lot, and watching the History Channel. I would hold my stomach and feel Sophia swim back and forth all day long. She was quite our little athlete! A year ago, I struggled to cope with Nicholas's death and Sophia's life, hopeful for the best, preparing for the worst. Once again, I felt those feelings of "why" and "how could this have happened"? We had the best possible medical care and still... I simply couldn't comprehend it.

And now, today is also a day of happiness and anticipation, of hope for the future. The part of me that wants to see a big fat smiley face says that of course this must work out. It simply must! After all, I cycled on my own! The one injection was just a boost and my LH spiked without any help, moving our suspected ovulation day up. This was my body working. Of course, that must be a sign. And then at today's appointment. Things went well. (The drive to the appointment, not so much... A terrible car accident that held things up, no one was hurt, thank goodness.) The analysis came back better than the ones before and the IUI procedure went off without a hitch. We held and kissed during our half hour wait, as we have all the times previous. It was actually quite romantic (well, as romantic as a doctor's office and inversion can be!) Today is day 1. Hopefully. 0dpo. I'll start progesterone supplements on 3dpo (Saturday) and then have my first blood test to monitor my progesterone (we want to see a number above 15 since I'll be taking the supplements) a week from today, at 7dpo. 14dpo is the next "big day". The pregnancy blood test... 2 days after Alexander's 3 month birthday. Another bittersweet encounter, I suppose...


I have started the baby journal. I began Nick & Sophie's and Alexander's on the date of our first appointment with Dr. Lee. They detail those 2 weeks of waiting and numbers and this and that. The hopes and, in Alexander's case, the sadness of those long weeks before their conception and their times with us. I started this one on Monday. It has 2 entries in it and already we are at the big O. Wow... Have I mentioned that I'm still in shock over that, LOL? I am, however, excited to write today's entry. Ovulation day is always a happy entry and I re-read our children's journals all the time, stopping especially on this day and their birthdays.

As though this news isn't grand enough, I have more good news. Catholic Social Services called me yesterday, late afternoon. We have an appointment for next Wednesday! (Wednesdays seem to be important days this month...). The supervisor of the group is coming out for our home interview. It feels like this process has taken so long. But we are looking forward to talking to her. I'm sure come Monday, my fears are going to take over and I'll be a complete basketcase all next week. Although, I guess the good thing is that I'll have my bloodwork in the morning so I'll be biting my nails until the results come back and, should they be good, it'll keep me on cloud 9 for the rest of the afternoon. I won't have time to be nervous!

February was a horrible month for 7 years. Last year, it became a month full of happiness and sorrow. And now, 9 years later, perhaps it will be a year full of joy without the bitter sting of pain. We will see...

If yesterday was an earthquake, then today's a tsunami

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

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We are triggering today. In fact, I have to leave and go home to get my Ovidrel shot in an hour or so. I can't even believe it.

I drove up to Dr. Lee's this morning and had bloodwork done, then she ultrasounded. Our little follicle has grown from 14 yesterday morning to 17.2. I usually trigger around 18, so this is right on target. She wanted to wait for the bloodwork, but her guess was that we would trigger later tonight for a Thursday morning IUI. I spoke to Peter on the phone and he was clearing out his Thursday morning in anticipation of the drive and procedure. At noon, they called: tomorrow. My LH has started to surge and Dr. Lee wants me to trigger this afternoon around 2pm for a 10:30am appointment. We'll arrive at 8:30am for Peter's preliminary work, go get breakfast, and then come back for the IUI. Even as I write this, I can't believe it. Tomorrow... We saw her yesterday and we are triggering tomorrow. My body finally did something almost... dare I say it... normal.

I know that the chances of success aren't 100%. Especially with triggering today for tomorrow. I'll have about 20 hours inbetween the trigger and the IUI. Usually, I'm double that time. While we'll "do our part" at home, so to speak, I'm still nervous. The worst part is that I'm an early investor. I'm already invested in a pregnancy that may or may not happen tomorrow. I've already thought of the baby's due date (Nov. 5), our first ultrasound (March 12th or so), our first appt. back with Dr. B. (mid-late March), when the cerclage would go in (late April), when it would come out (early October), when showers would be scheduled (early fall), when I'd have to tell my boss (March)... Even knowing that things aren't guaranteed, I can't stop myself from the daydreams that started yesterday... The hopes... The dreams... The possibilities... And, when the part of my brain that reminds me of how fragile all of this is, how thin of a thread this all hangs on, I try to stop myself from the daydreaming and then feel guilty because it feels like I am trying to not invest in the pregnancy and the baby. And I have to invest from the start or I'd die if something did happen to a tentative pregnancy.

My nerves are on such ends right now. I am still blown away that we are triggering today. I can't believe it.

Prayers would be much appreciated. Both for a successful conception and for my sanity.

In Shock...

Monday, February 9, 2009

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Before folks get excited by the post, no, I am not pregnant.

This morning, we took the long drive up to Dr. Lee's office. We had our consult and many of the reasons I adore Dr. Lee were so evident. The woman legitimately cares about her patients. We just sat and talked about everything that happened in Alexander's pregnancy and labor. She asked how we were doing and not just a glib "how are you" but one with dialogue and heartfelt concern. I told her that I didn't have a period afterwards and that I was producing a lot of cervical mucus, which I've only ever done when pregnant. She asked if I'd taken a test and I told her how I've not been able to score a positive even when pregnant, so I wasn't sure what the deal was. (There are a certain percentage of women who dont excrete hCG in urine so HPTs don't work... Always fun when you have an incompetent cervix to worry about!) So, she said that mucus could mean I need to shed a lining and menstruate before treatment begins, but that she would do bloodwork and an u/s just to make sure that a.) I'm not pregnant and b.) that I indeed have a lining to shed.

We went back to the familiar patient room and I assumed the position, so to speak, for an u/s. Well, there was definitely no little one in there, but in addition to a think, cushy lining, I am a 14mm follicle! With no hormone stimulation at all. Which means, ESTROGEN! I'm still in shock. In my right ovary, there is this mamajama follicle. She measured it several times and each time, it measured 14. With our twins, my follicles were 16mm and 18mm, and with Alexander, the follicle had gotten larger, to 2omm. With Dr. Lee, the average trigger is done around 18-20mm, but unmedicated cycles can trigger themselves anywhere after 14. I think she was as surprised as we were. The bloodwork should come back today, but if my LH has surged, then tonight may be the trigger shot. I am still in shock; I just can't believe it. I can't believe that, on my own, I have actually matured a follicle. I joked around in the office, but on the inside, I am so stunned. Even the voices in my head are quiet.

I prayed for a sign, a real, big, red lettered sign, from God to say "Try again." I feel like this really was that. But, even that being said, I am so stunned... So shocked... Could tonight really be the trigger??? It will, apparently, be this week. I don't know that I was expecting that. I think I expected either to start the 2 week cycle of injections today, which would put my trigger around March 1st or so, or to try and induce a period, which would take about 2 weeks, and then start the injections, which would put the trigger around mid-March. Not that I'm complaining; I'm just in such shock. My body doesn't do anything it is supposed to do. And now, suddenly, it decides to start functioning? Our little doctors at work, I suppose.

Dr. Lee says that she's seen this in PCOS patients. Typically, she said, some patients can ovulate on their own for a month or two and then, boom, back to infertile. Of course, most people get their first period a little sooner than 10+ weeks after giving birth. But, hey, I'll take it. I'll make sure to update once the bloodwork is returned. That's the big kicker, I think. It'll be a few hours, at least, I'm sure.

UPDATE: Nurse Amy called. Tonight, I am to give myself a 150 Gonal-F injection and then go back to the office early tomorrow morning for a re-test. I completely forgot to ask what my estrogen/progesterone levels were, but the GF and retest means no LH surge (yet).

Honest Scraps

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Thanks to MLG for the nomination!
The rules of the award: 1) Choose a mini
mum of 7 blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. 2) Show the 7 winners names and links on your blog, and leave a comment informing them that they were prized with "Honest Scrap." 3) List at least 10 honest things about yourself.

1. I always thought I'd be a James Bond-esque kind of girl and never dreamed of getting married or having a family. Meeting my husband changed everything and having our children made me a better person.

2. I met my husband when I was 17 and visiting a college. He was 19 and a junior there. We were together for only a few hours and were engaged and married a short time later. How's that for fate!

3. We tried to conceive with every old wives' tale imaginable for 9 years before we saw our RE, who has assisted us in bringing our lovely children into the world.

4. I have been broken completely by the deaths of our babies, even though I can't let the world see that, yet their love is the thing that made me perfectly complete.

5. I'm a write in my spare time, and before our kids were born, was a staff writer for a yoga magazine. Afterwards, I've only penned a few articles. I just can't seem to bring my mind back to that place.

6. I believe a person's a person no matter how small, (Thanks, Horton), and Peter & I are active in the pro-life movement.

7. I never imagined the amount of people in this world that have lost babies. I felt so alone after Nicholas died and my grief was compounded when we lost Sophia as well. Reading the blogs of other moms made me feel less alone and gave me the hope that I would be able to breathe again. I dont think I would have survived Alexander's loss had I not known that and had all these women for support.

8. I'm a librarian for my day job.

9. I dream of being a housewife, in conjuction with my role as a full-time mother, and cooking and cleaning all day.

10. Michele is my middle name, although I'm not really called by anything else.


7 blogs I follow (omitting ones that I've seen who have been mentioned before) and in alphabetical order. I follow a lot more than this, so this is just a random sampling.

Infertile. Who me?
Observations from the Cuckoo's Nest
Overeducated Mommy
Pray for Baby David
Stitchy Witchy
This Is Not What I Had Planned
Were You Looking For Me?

Homily

Sunday, February 8, 2009

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An Oblate from De Sales University preached the 9:30 Mass today. The following is a quote from his homily. "In his wisdom, your heavenly Father has foreseen from eternity the cross that He now presents to you as a gift from His inmost heart. This cross that He now gives you He has considered with His all-knowing mind, constructed with His gentle hands, weighed with His divine justice, and tested with His own loving arms - to be certain that it would not be one inch too large or one ounce too heavy for you. Then, having fashioned this unique cross with you in mind, He took one last glance at you and your courage before sending it to you - a special gift, blessed and anointed by your heavenly Father." -St. Francis de Sales.

This quote really struck a chord in us. We are both struggling to find our way at times (okay, most times) and this really hit home. Peter likened it to a sermon he heard years ago, where the pastor at our college spoke along the lines of Christ on the cross, looking down at you personally and asking if you carry this bit of the load, as he handed you your proverbial cross. Would you say yes? Seeing all that suffering? All the weight of the world? Would you carry your cross a little while so that he didn't have to?

I try to look at it in that frame of reference. That the grief is the cross that we've been asked to bear. Asking to not have it would mean, possibly, never having had our precious babies. Neither of us would give them back, so the grief comes. The perfect world would have us with all our babies in our arms, playing, laughing... I still ask God why that wasn't meant to be. I don't know why. And, as much as I try, taking that answer on faith... It's so damn hard...

In the midst of one of our most sorrowful times, my husband, my dear sweet poet of a husband, had these words... Perhaps our children were meant to stay in heaven all along, but begging God to be born, He told them to choose wisely because their time on earth would be brief, that they were saints in heaven with so much work to do. And, taking this to heart, they searched the world wide over and found us and chose us to be their parents, knowing that the love they shared with us on earth for their brief time with us, would be enough to last through eternity and that we would hold them in our hearts forever.

That is what I will dream about today, I think...

Birth Certificates- Revisited

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

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I'm so frustrated. Why can't people think? I mean really think!

So, as you know, Peter has been working tirelessly on getting birth certificates issued for the kids. We are still on the journey for Nicholas and Sophia's certificates (we haven't gotten the paperwork yet to fill out on Alexander yet, but his will probably be just as much of a nightmare).

To back up: We filled out paperwork for the twins last year. Nicholas's was filled out in mid-February, Sophia's in mid-March. Months passed... No certificates. We contacted the state who informed us that the hospital never sent the paperwork. So months of back and forth with the hospital. My postings here and here ended the saga for the time being (back in August) with the hospital promising to send the paperwork and to expect them by the end of November. As you can imagine, we have been lax in following up and now, here we are, in February and still: no certificates.


Peter called the hospital in January and after several rounds of phone tag, finally spoke to the person. She verified that they sent off the paperwork and the state received it. So, they are done with their portion. She was very nice but couldn't help us further. So, Peter has been calling the Health Department and finally the woman there called back. And this is where the frustration really gets me.


They have the paperwork. They've had it for months.


The person who processed it saw that fetal death certificates were issued (which were incorrect: standard death certificates should have been issued). The certificates were required to do their cremations. Because the hospital didn't send in the birth certificates in a timely manner, whomever at the state handles death certificates did the wrong ones. When the person getting the death certificates did a search, they found those, and, rather than investigating to see what the issue was, they just filed them away! And did NOTHING! Even though we've been calling and calling, no one thought to do anything! So now, this poor woman (who has been very polite and is trying to be helpful) is left trying to pick up the pieces. This will mean rescinding the old death certificates and issuing a new one along with the birth certificates. And God only knows how much time all this will take.


Is it too much to ask that these things be done correctly??? I know it can't just be us. Other people out there must be going through this too. Does no one realize the extra stress and grief it places on a bereaved parent to have to fight for every little thing? Do hospitals think that, by delaying paperwork or waiting for a parent to ask for it, that they are helping? Even more frustrating is that because birth certificate info wasn't given at the time of Alexander's birth, his death certificate was also issued incorrectly.


I know other people are going through this, too. And I am so sorry. I realize that a piece of paper doesn't negate their lives or give them back, but it still matters to me. It's just something else that shows that our babies were real, live, human beings who lived beautiful lives. It's something that lives on far beyond my memories are gone and my mind has turned to mush. It's something tangible. It's part of the few things we have left.


I'm sure there will be more updates on this saga as they develop. Peter, wonderful man that he is, is handling the details and harassing the state, which is lucky for them. I'd be a raging nightmare (if they could even understand me through the tears...)

Disappointed...

8 comments


Catholic Social Services didn't show up. First 6pm rolled around. We waited on the couch and waited.... And waited... And 6:30 came and went. Then 6:45. Peter went upstairs to look for her number on email and, once I made sure there was no one in our drive, that the doors were open, and the doorbell worked, I joined him upstairs. Checked my email. Nothing. Checked the phone log (that I checked when I got home). Still empty. I searched through my email and found the case workers phone number and called. It went to voicemail. (Big surprise, seeing as it is 7pm by this point). I left a message, something along the lines of "Hi, we had an appointment tonight for our home interview between 6pm and 6:30pm. It's 7pm and we haven't heard from you. We're not sure what happened, so if you could please give us a call and let us know." 7:15pm. Nothing. I haven't eaten all day (other than some junk food at work) and my stomach is hurting. At 7:30, we decide that she isn't coming and decide to go out for Thai food. Just in case, I take my cell phone. You know. In the event she does show up over an hour late.

I cried like a baby. It felt like, once again, the hope we were beginning to have was shattered. Peter just held me in the office while I wept, assuring me that things were fine. Maybe she was hung up on a case, he reasoned, or she got sick and wasn't able to call us. Finally, I decided I was going to puke if I didn't eat, and we left for our favorite place, a few towns over. When we got home, around 9pm, there still wasn't a call. We watched some TV, then went to bed.

On a weird note, I dreamed about Jonathan Rhys-Meyers. It was so strange. There were other "famous" people in it, although I dont remember who they were. The only part of the dream I really remember was this strange, horror movie-esque chase scene. Perhaps if The Tudors were in season 3 already, I'd stop having dreams about the cast! I remember joking with Peter that I'd be pregnant and on the couch, watching the Tudors, waiting to pop. It's sad to think about it...

Around 8am this morning, the phone rings. It's the social worker's boss. She apologizes profusely and says that the social worker is ill, and that she (the boss) wasn't able to access her (the social worker's) voicemail until this morning. Since the boss had no clue the social worker had an appointment... You get where this is going. She apologized again and said that she would call us tomorrow or Friday to set up another appointment. I tried to be gracious and understanding on the phone. After all, things like this come up (and at least it wasn't an emergency). But I'm still so disappointed. It took us a month to get to this point. And, I know this isn't the right way to think, but it feels like just another thing in the line of things that aren't the way they are supposed to be.

I'm trying to think positively. We were so excited and nervous about last night, to have it fall apart. And we see Dr. Lee on Monday. I'm nervous about that as well. At the very least, we'll have blood work and an u/s to see what my body looks like, diagnostically, at this point, 10 weeks after our precious Alexander was born. From that point, we'll decide whether to press forward or to place this journey on hold. We've avoided talking to people about it because we don't want their feelings to go or not to influence us. We've been keeping it in prayer and are leaning towards one direction, even though it is the one that scares us so much. But, it is where we feel we are being led, both in singular prayer and prayer together. It's hard to have faith that things will work out when you are so scared about the past and the future. I think the final test is getting to her office and feeling the same feeling and answering the question of "yes" or "no" with the answer you feel called to. That's all any of us can do.

I'm glad we didnt really tell people CSS were coming. I would have hated to get their hopes up just to see them crushed, too. Like I said, I'm not doing too well with the thinking positively about this. But I'm trying.

Nicholas's First Birthday

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

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My son turned one two days ago, on a snowy day like the one the year before. I can't believe that a year has passed since that beautiful, precious boy was born into this world and, shortly after, born into heaven. It doesn't seem that long ago. It seems like only yesterday I was holding him but my arms have been empty for so long...

Honestly, I didn't want anyone to share his special day with us. I've known this for a while. As Peter and I discussed what we should do, I knew that I couldn't have a house of people on his birthday, even as I also knew that other people wanted to celebrate and remember with us. So, we've created a compromise and, as we discussed it, we've decided it is how we'd like to proceed for all of our children. On the night before or the closest weekend day before, we will invite people for dinner, etc, and will reserve the actual day for a celebration between us and siblings. So, last week, I emailed a reminder to the grandparents, godparents, and the only local aunt (Peter's aunt) that Nicholas's Mass was being celebrated on the 31st (our church doesn't do Mass offerings on Sundays, so we had to choose the Vigil on the night before), and that, immediately following, we were going to have "his" dinner. We picked up my dad (aka Granddad) Saturday afternoon and met Peter's parents (aka Abuelita-Grandma and Grandfather) at church. Peter's Aunt and Nicholas & Sophia's Godmother arrived soon after. The grandparents presented the gifts, Peter was an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, and I was the cantor. Fr. B. gave the homily, which was really beautiful. (There's something to be said for being an active member of the parish; I think it makes a difference at something like this.) What was even more special, I think, was that, as I looked out into the congregation during the singing, I saw so many faces of friends of ours who normally don't go to Saturday night Mass. Our bulletin lists the Mass intentions for the following week; friends saw "Nicholas Haytko" listed for the Mass and came to celebrate that service with us. How sweet it was to see their smiling faces and to spend a few moments with them afterwards, before we journeyed home.

The end of last week, in my heart, I asked my son what type of birthday cake he wanted for his "party". It didn't take long for me to hear a response. I like to bake and I'm always up for a challenge. And so the "train cake" was born.



Dinner went well. Their Godfather was at the house (he had to work and missed the Mass) when their grandparents arrived, and we were last to get there. I made the pork chops, bananas, cornbread, rice and beans that I craved SO much with him and we toasted our little boy's one year birthday. It was a long night (we didn't end up alone until after 10pm) but it was nice to have our son remembered by our family.

Sunday came too soon. Before either of us knew it, light was streaming in the bedroom windows and February 1st was here. My head played out each moment... 8am: I got your daddy off to work; 9am: I met your grandmother for breakfast; 9:45am: We did some local shopping in Skippack to get ready for your arrival: 1pm: We met your daddy for lunch in North Wales; 2pm: We went by Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and BabiesRUs to pick up things for me; 4pm: We dropped by the complex where your grandparents were moving in a week, to pick up their key; 4:30pm: Exhausted, I took a nap, where your daddy joined me, a half hour later when he arrived home; 6:30pm: Hungry, I decided to go to the grocery store to get your favorite craving. It was cold and raining. I was winded when I got back to the car and called your daddy to meet me at the front door to bring in the bags.; 7pm: Making dinner, all seems well. We joke about me turning into a pork chop since we've eaten so many during your pregnancy.; 7:30pm: Not feeling well. I feel bloated, gassy. Your daddy suggests I sit down on the couch for a few minutes to rest while he finishes dinner.; 7:40pm: A horrible pain shoots through my abdomen and I double over on the couch. Convinced I have to go to the bathroom, I hurry to the hall.; 7:45pm: No sooner do I get my pants down than my water breaks and you are in my hands. Holding you is so perfect; it's like that's what my hands are meant to do. I scream for your daddy who calls 911, as he breaks down. Perhaps, more than me, your scientist father realizes what has happened and that science has not bridged wide enough of a gap to save you. We hold you, your heart pulsing against our palms, your hands wrapping around your daddy's finger, your legs kicking and perfect. The sirens get closer and closer, and your daddy runs outside to flag them down. Soon, EMTs fill our tiny first floor bathroom. I am on the floor, while the Chief holds you, wrapping you in aluminum foil to keep you warm. Soon, more arrive and they carry us to a waiting ambulance. It's after 8pm by now. Because there is no way to hold you at my feet in the ambulance, they make the decision to cut the cord that still connects our bodies together. You are hurried to the front of the ambulance, where the Asst. Chief waves the tiniest of oxygen tubes under your little nose. You still squirm. They tell me constantly, "Your son is still with us. Don't worry. We're doing everything that we can." And they did. They worked tirelessly. I remember feeling cold; no matter how many blankets they piled on top of me, I was cold. But you were warm and that mattered more than anything. The fire chaplain arrives. He has heard the call on the radio and rushed from dinner: "Pregnant women in preterm labor with twins. Twin A has been born severely premature." While an IV is being prepped, the fire chaplain, unbeknownst to me, baptizes our son with rain water, captured in a coffee cup, while the Chief holds him. He told me later that he wasn't sure if we were Christian and if his actions were right, but he just felt that he had to do whatever he could do and worry about the consequences later. After they wrapped you back up and we waited for the helicopter that the Chief begged someone, anyone, to send (the weather, being so icy and snowy, impeded 2 of the 3 possible Medevac units), the chaplain held my hand and prayed. I don't remember what he said. I remember he put one hand on my stomach, where your sister frantically moved to and fro. I remember his kind eyes and the slight wrinkles around his mouth. But his words are lost to history. In my memory, I was driven to the fire department, a few streets over. I always thought this because I was surrounded by firemen when they moved me from the ambulance to the helicopter, but this isn't so. The entire fire department was there, but we were transported to the elementary school down the street. The Asst. Chief handed you over to the flight EMT, a 30 something man with the clearest blue eyes I have ever seen. He strapped in and continued to wave oxygen. Firemen created a canopy over me as they wheeled the stretcher to the waiting helicopter. I remember looking up as they waited to board me and seeing a young fireman, perhaps 20, crying. It was the first time I think the idea that we wouldn't all make it crossed my mind. He's crying... I thought... For us... During this time, one of the policemen who had stayed with your daddy heard over the radio that we were being transported to the Children's Hospital; your daddy took off towards Philadelphia before the helicopter was even in the air. I watched as the EMT held you. He rocked you back and forth. Our eyes would meet and he would give me a nod of his head. I remember holding my breath so many times, waiting for that nod. As we touched down at the hospital, I remember him saying "I wont leave him", and taking off as soon as the doors were opened. He ran from the heliport to the ER. Moments later, a team of nurses- nurses who weren't used to working on an adult- helped get my stretcher off the aircraft and wheeled me into the hospital. I thought I was dreaming as I was pushed passed your daddy, but it was no dream. He somehow had made it to the hospital, a good half hour to forty minutes away on a good day, in 20 minutes. He told me later that he had just arrived as I was being wheeled in. Doctors worked so hard to stop my bleeding and to stabilize your little sister. I still remember the moment that I knew you were gone. The flight EMT stood over my head. He began to cry and slowly shook his head from side to side. No. I closed my eyes. I wanted to die and be with you at that moment. He bent down and kissed my forehead before he was gone. I can still remember it, the way he smelled (spice and pine), the softness of his lips against my forehead, the brush of tears as he moved away. The Chief of EMTs told me later that he called EMS regularly to get updates on how your twin sister and I were. A nurse asked if I wanted to see you- how could I not!- and a few moments later, your father brought you to me, wrapped in a soft, clean blanket. Your right hand held your left wrist and you had a smile on your face. I reached over and touched your sweet face. Our son... Our dear, perfect, little Nicholas.

We spent much of the day holding one another, crying, laughing, remembering. Around 2pm, we decided to drive to New Jersey, where my brother-in-law is buried. We took their box with us and spent some time at the cemetery, where we even added something we felt our children would have added.



Afterwards, we drove to the beach. We longed to take our children there, to watch them play in the water and sad, to see the wonder and amazement of a sunrise or sunset. During part of our visit, we felt them so present with us. Peter was putting their box near the waves for a picture. The waves had gotten lower and lower, which caused him to walk farther towards the water. Just as he had placed their box down, a huge wave rolled him. He grabbed their box but didn't have time to run far before his feet and legs below the knees were wet. I couldn't have heard their angelic laughs louder had they been in my arms. We laughed and held and finished taking some photos before heading home, wet feet and all.


Once back, we warmed up the remainder of his dinner and I iced the small cake that I had made for his actual birthday. On the table in the living room that I refer to as "theirs", I placed their box and his birthday cake, along with a candle that we lit at 7:45pm. I had originally thought of extinguishing it at 8:45, but I couldn't, and we let it burn until it burned out, several hours later. We watched the Super Bowl on TV, just as we did last year from our hospital bed, when I had convinced myself that if the underdogs, the Giants, won, we would go home from the hospital with Sophia still inside, contrary to the thoughts of the doctors. The Giants won, and we indeed went home, where we spent two more precious weeks with our daughter.

I miss them so much, but just how special the time together was. I'd do this all over again, even if it meant the same amount of time. I can't believe that a year has gone by. A year with them, a year without them. But still... Just the knowing them... The holding them... The loving them... Worth every second and every heartbreak.

Thank you for remembering them with me, especially my son, Nicholas, on his first birthday.

Happy Birthday

Sunday, February 1, 2009

6 comments
Happy first birthday, my dear sweet Nicholas. Mommy and Daddy love you so much.