Giving Up the Ghost

Monday, June 29, 2009

16 comments
I know that there are people who read my blog who have a variety of religious and spiritual beliefs (some of whom espouse no beliefs). And that is okay. This post may strike some people as strange or unreal.... My life experiences have taught me that nothing is impossible... That those we love who have gone before us, our ancestors and our friends, are not "lost" to us, but simply living in a new life... That, sometimes, we are permitted a glimpse into another place... another time... and able to be with these people. I'm not crazy... I'm not a grieving mother whose mind is playing tricks... Truly, I'm not...

I swear, the babies came to me last night and told me that I should relax. That they cant tell me the future but that they can tell me that no matter what happens during this year, that we are good parents to Bobby and Maya... that we have to let go of our fears and give it to God, really. I remember crying in the "dream" and telling them how afraid I was of losing Bobby and Maya, like I lost them, and they smiled and hugged me and told me that I havent lost them. That they are alive, more alive than they could have been have they stayed with us, how they were so excited to have been born to us and to have us as Mommy and Daddy, how they see us every day and feel us and love us and hold us. It was such an amazing moment. I cant really call it a dream. They said how it was okay to miss them but that we have to realize that they are still with us and that to focus on the physical is just one part of life. I didnt want the moment to end. But when I was awake fully, I felt that warm feeling... like I did when they were born... And I felt this huge sense of peace. Not that everything would end as planned or hoped, but that it would be okay. That no matter what, it would be okay.

I know that I will still worry. What parent doesnt? I know that the next week will be hard as we approach Sophia's gestational birth date. But, something has changed. I can't explain what it really is. I really cant. It isnt that "oh, we are over the "hump" so things will be fine" like I had started feeling with Alexander. It's totally different from that. I really dont have words to explain it. I know that things might not end as we have planned. There may be no baby shower... No birth that ends with two living, healthy babies... No 36 week cerclage removal and natural delivery... Things could end tomorrow or in November... I dont know. I wont know. The thing is, that's what my focus has been. When will it end? When will I go into labor? Is this a sign of labor? Is that a sign of labor? Is the stitch holding? What am I doing wrong? What am I not doing? I have enjoyed the pregnancy to a degree, but I've been holding onto the ghost of a premature delivery, a cervix dilating without being able to stop it, a baby dying that all I can do is hold and talk to as it happens. And how can we not, when this has been our experiences? When everything has been 24w, 24w, 24w. Not enjoying 15w, 16w, 17w. Not enjoying the development of today because we are so focused on the development of tomorrow. I swore I wouldnt let one day pass me by and in my fervency, I have lost some of those days... Those days when all I could think about was "God, let me get X more weeks".

Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander see the truth that even I've tried to keep quiet. That, in spite of all my spiritual beliefs and behaviors, pregnancy brings out the fraud in me. The belief that somehow I have control and then, when something shows me how little control I have, it sends me into a tailspin. You all see some of it because I try to be honest here. But most people dont. Most people get the "I feel great" answer and the face to go along with it. But it's been a lie. I havent been fine. I've been wrestling with the statistics and trying to convince myself that we'll get to a certain point, not celebrating each day and knowing, rather, that we will get to their birthdays. And those are the important days- whether they happen this week, in August, or in November. My children have called me on it. They've convicted me. They've put it out there for me to no longer ignore.

I'm not crazy. They arent in my head. They were here, with me, in my arms. I felt their kisses and smelled their hair. They told me the truth that I refused to see, and they gave me the answer. "Give it up". Give up the ghost. Let it go and let it be.

Today is a good day. I have some discomfort. I'm still sneezing every now and again. But it is a good day. The sun is shining. My babies are moving and playing soccer with my bladder. The baby day-by-day tells me that, yesterday, meconium began accumulating in their bowels. Today, they have pads on their fingertips and toes that are beginning to look like yours and mine. And tomorrow, their ears will be sticking out from the sides (and if they are anything like their daddy, their ears are REALLY sticking out) and their eyes are in their final position. It's a good day.

Peter had my mother's ring cast at a local jewelers. I have an Irish claddagh band that I love and he is having the mother's ring made in that image, with his and my birthstones on either side, and then, by boys on his side, and girls on mine, their birthstones drilled in. The head jeweler is working on it, since it is such a tough design, and he expects it in 3-4 weeks to be finished. They are currently looking for natural alexandrite for my stone, which is neat, since it is rare. If they cant find it, they'll go with synthetic, but I love the idea that they are actually looking for it. Peter is peridot. On his side, it will be followed by an amethyst and a citrine; mine is followed by an amethyst. We will see what the next two stones will be. I'll post a picture once it is done.

Thank you all for riding the wave with me on Saturday about the mucus. I havent had any since. I sat down (with my feet up!!!) on the patio and enjoyed some of the sunshine and nice weather with my girlfriend, Sarah. Then, in the evening, Peter took me for a short drive and trip to the grocery, where I was in a wheelchair. It was nice to enjoy some of the weather, and feel normal. The babies have been very active over the last few days. I've been able to feel them without my hands on my belly, and Peter has been able to feel them when he puts his hands down. He gets so excited each and very time. I wish I could give you all those feels of movement, so that you could know how much your support helps these babies grow and thrive.

Now, before this becomes a book, I will post it. It's a good day. Smile. No matter what, it's going to be okay. Even if things arent going the way we want... Even if they dont end the way we desire... It's going to be alright. Let go of the ghost.

Freaked at 17w

Saturday, June 27, 2009

15 comments
Why dont I just call myself constantly afraid and never going to relax in this pregnancy. I know, a long name but it might very well fit.

So, we are 17w today and, as of 3:45am, Bobby and Maya are now older than Alexander gestationally. I'm getting ready for my P17 shot. Emotionally, I was unable to sleep last night past 3am. I got up for my 3am pee and then just laid awake, remembering...

As you all know, I sneeze and I hate it. I cant stand it. So, this morning around 8am, I had a cycle of 2 sneezes. Then, of course, I had to pee about 20 minutes later. So, off to the bathroom and, as is my habit, I wipe before I pee- just in case... Well, this time there was something and I've been freaked since. There was a quarter size glob of mucus, light in color but colored nonetheless. No blood. No pink. Just mucus. I have had thin, stringy mucus since the cerclage but nothing like "mucus mucus". And so I call Peter in to investigate. He says it's normal and fine. I'm freaked. Now, it's 10ish and I havent had anything else like it since and I've gone to the bathroom twice. In addition to the continued minor belly aches, this has me on edge.

I know that mucus in the second trimester is normal. Really I do. And I had it with Nick & Sophie and Alex, but I'm still freaked out right now. Is my stitch pulling and this is the result? Will anything "normal" ever feel really, truly normal? I'm sure that if I were to call Dr Bailey, he'd tell me I'm fine, especially since there is no bleeding. See... I really can think rationally. But I'm still scared. I know a lot of it is the day, too. I'm trying to balance my rational mind with my fears, but today it's harder.

So, mucus discharge after cerclage... That is my search on Dr. Google today. It's hard to take the "increased mucus in the 2nd trimester is normal" when I dont know if the cerclage changes any of that. I know... I know... I should try to pretend that I'm just the run of the mill pregnant woman.

---

In non-freakouot news... My laptop was NOT shipping from Ohio. Peter saw CN and thought Cincinnati. No... It was CHINA. Yesterday, it arrived in Shanghai. Not sure where it is today. But, it most likely will not be here by Monday.

Talked to my mom yesterday. She's set the date for my (deep breath) baby shower in TN. It will be the day we are leaving so that we can pack the car up, everyone can say goodbye, and we can get on the road. Saturday, September 5th. I'll be 27w pregnant. The following weeks will be filled with Peter's family's shower and the shower my friend wants to throw. I know... 3 showers... Sounds kind of pretentious... My family and Peter's family are so far apart that that results in at least 2 showers. And, Peter's mom wanted to do a "family" shower, hence friends wanting to do their own. So, we shall see... Part of me feels like a phony for even imagining getting that far...

So, trying to keep breathing today... Missing my youngest born son... Seeing the "what if's"... Grateful that I only saw mucus and not blood, and hoping that the mucus isn't a bad sign... And, in spite of my fear, looking at baby shower invitations with elephants on them...

16w6d

Friday, June 26, 2009

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November 22nd... 16w6d in Alex's pregnancy... 11pm... After a pretty noneventful day at the hospital, we'd curled up in bed together and fallen asleep. I woke at 11pm, covered in blood. I woke Peter up and my initial fear was that I had delivered Alexander and didn't even know it. Peter checked and, thank God, no baby. He helped clean us quickly up before getting our nurse. She tried to get Alex's heartbeat... Nothing... Tried again... Nothing... I remember the thought of 'Oh God, my baby has died...' and feeling the life fall out of me. the OB on call came in with a portable u/s machine, after the head nurse also failed to locate his heartbeat on the doppler. One second... Two seconds... Three seconds... Suddenly, he was there, moving around, heart beating. A breath.... A second breath... He's okay... But he really wasnt. That blessed ultrasound that showed us our little soccer player still actively playing in the womb also showed that my placenta had detached. Those dreaded words: "I'm sorry; there's nothing I can do to stop your labor." Peter and I were quiet for a moment and then he calmly asked the doctor and nurses to leave us so that we could have Alexander quietly and peacefully, whenever he decided to be born, without intervention or medication. They were all so respectful. One of our nurses, the one who would baptize Alexander, wiped away a tear and I remember thinking, 'it's got to be bad if the nurse is crying'. She offered to call a priest and we agreed. Everyone left and Peter curled up behind me in bed. I remember holding my belly and crying, telling Alexander how much we loved him and were ready for him, whenever he decided it was time. It broke my heart to know that my baby boy was going to enter a world that couldnt care for him... couldnt save him... that all my love couldnt change that... We held him and sang to him and talked to him until the priest arrived around 1am. He prayed and talked to us... prayed over little Alex... asked God to watch over him as he was born and went to his heavenly home... He was very kind and we were so appreciative that he came in the middle of the night for people he didn't even know. The role of a priest, I know, but still touching when you are the person who needs them. And then, we were alone again. We curled up together, holding each other and my belly, feeling our cuddlebug moving back and forth, and we fell asleep. 3:40am- I woke up with a contraction and at 3:45, our precious Alexander was born.

Tomorrow... 3:45am... 17w... At 3:46am, Bobby and Maya will be older than their big brother, Alexander.

---

I've been sleeping all day this week. I'm up in the morning, back to bed by 10am and sleeping all day. I get up to eat, and then back to sleep. Peter comes home, I doze. It's bedtime, I go to sleep. I think it is my mind's defense mechanism to get through this time of pregnancy. It could also be a result of the meds which "may cause drowsiness" combined with growing 2 babes and being in bed anyway. It could be a lot of things, I suppose. But, nonetheless, I sleep.

Yesterday, after some seriously pornographic dreams (sorry... TMI), I woke up with cramping. My belly wasnt changing, no contractions, no severe pain, just lower belly cramping and severe gas. But I was terrified nonetheless. Honestly, and I know this is TMI, so my apologies, but for posterity... I thought I may have had an orgasm in my sleep (I told you, the dreams were BAD). Dr. Bailey had said an orgasm was okay (just no intercourse) but that isnt something we were planning on for a variety of reasons. But I didnt know what the cramping was and was grasping at straws and pretty much had a breakdown around 3:30 yesterday afternoon. Turns out that I had no real issues, other than the continued gas (which probably related to the cramping), which continues today.

But, the babies seem to be fine. They are moving from side to side. Peter gets a kick out of seeing my belly uneven. My belly button wont be in the middle but to the left or right. My stomach round on one side and indented on the other. Then back to center and normal again. It is neat. Heartbreaking at times, too, because of the nostalgia. But beautiful in its own right.

I got a baby shower invite for my brother's girlfriend yesterday. Don't get me started on those two. Thank God I live far away. I wish them the best but to say that they are 2 immature people is an understatement. I will send a gift. Thank God the shower is in July and not during our visit when I couldnt avoid it. Does that make me a horrible person? Probably... I love my brother. Dearly. I dont agree with many of his choices and I worry about the little boy they are bringing into the world. I worry incessantly. Please pray for J and L and their baby. Please pray for a pregnancy that I believe was planned to rope him into a relationship that he wasnt secure in. Please pray that I will keep my mouth shut and just try to be as supportive as I can be.

On a pleasant note, my new laptop shipped today! It should arrive this weekend or early next week. It's coming from Ohio via FedEx, so I almost think it will get here tomorrow. After all, Ohio and PA are neighbors! So, hopefully by next week, I will be posting from my new computer and things will move a little faster!

I just want to thank you all for being with us during this time. The comments and emails surrounding when Nicholas was gestationally born this pregnancy... The ones that I've gotten and know will come for Alexander's tomorrow. And the waiting with me as we move towards Sophia's.... And, for the days afterwards, which will be hard and great and bittersweet- thank you. We couldnt get through this without the support and love and understanding. So few people understand how we arent just over the moon in this pregnancy, how this pregnancy hasnt wiped away the pain of losing our children. But you do. You get it. Thank you. Thank you for understanding. Thank you for knowing that even if we leave the hospital with two very healthy and alive babies that our hearts will still be hurting and our family will still be missing and mourning. Thank you for realizing that our miscarriages hurt, too. That while we dont discuss them as much, that when we view our family, we view those three precious little saints that we never got to see on an ultrasound or hold in our arms for even a moment. Thank you for knowing that, even though they were only here momentarily, they are our babies too and we miss them and, amongst ourselves, talk about them. Thank you for not discounting them in our family. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Different things...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

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  • Today, in Alexander's pregnancy, (16w4d) my water broke. It sprayed all over the hospital room. Peter had just helped me use the bedpan (the joys of marriage) and I sneezed. And boom! Water on the bed, floor, dresser, mirror- you name it. But our sweet cuddlebug was a trooper and he hung on, staying with us for more precious days.
  • Thank you for the prayers for my girlfriend, Meg. On Monday night, after a day of trying to dilate and finally getting there and pushing for 3 hours with no real progress, Lucy's heartrate began to drop and she was born via an emergency C-section. She's beautiful.
  • I'm pissed at blogger. I just logged in and noticed that Alexander's birthday post was listed as "scheduled" and never posted yesterday. WTH??? I mean, I realize it was an early morning post, but really...
  • My new laptop hasnt arrived yet and poor iMac is dying. It takes F-O-R-E-V-E-R to load even my email. I cant complain because I am connected and, although it takes a long time, I can keep up with everyone. But... I cant wait for the laptop to arrive and Peter to get it ready for me.

So, all in all, things are going well. I scheduled (gasp) something for 20 weeks... I struggle with doing things in advance. If I didnt have to schedule multiple appointments with Dr B so that we could get the times we need, I'd go appt to appt. And I only have those through the next few months because I couldnt do too many in advance. It just hurt too much. The nurse was very understanding. But, this is the "detailed anatomy scan ultrasound for multiples" which needs to be done at 20w and, if I didnt schedule it soon, the perinatologists would give me a piece of their minds. So, I scheduled it. July seemed so far away but, really, it is next week... I have an appt with Dr B on July 1st and the month of June has really slipped by.

We also got the confirmation for our rental in Nashville for our expected visit the last week of Aug/first week of Sept. We check in on Sunday, Aug 29 and our check out date is the 5th. I'm not sure yet if we will stay that long or leave on the Saturday so we have some time to drive back. And this, of course, is assuming Dr B says that we can go still. I mean, I know I wont be driving and that we arent planning on doing anything, other than me being in bed in TN and in a wheelchair for a shower and for some minor visiting, but... I'm nervous about the whole thing. I wish we were closer and this wasnt such a production. We should know the week before we go if Dr B will let us. And if he doesnt... I cant look that far in advance, let alone see whether we will be going or not. August is too far away right now...

A lot on my mind these days... Remembering... Sleeping a lot... In some ways, that is good. It helps the days go by. I havent found a downside to it yet, other than that I'm always tired. But hey, if that is what it takes...

Happy 7 month birthday, Alexander

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

4 comments
Oh my sweet Cuddlebug! It's been 7 months since you were born. Since you laid on my chest and I held you tight. Since your daddy caught that first gorgeous foot of yours as you emerged breech from me and then helped ease the second leg out before one-two- and you were here! You were born kicking and your arms reached out for your daddy, who held you in his hands. Over my belly and knees, I could see your little shoulders moving back and forth. Your daddy tells me that you moved your little head back and forth as though you were looking around. Through your closed eyes, you could see the lights... I bet they were bright... We kept them low, but I'm sure that they seemed so bright to you without the protection of your home. Your tiny fingers opened and closed, touching the skin of your daddy's finger, which was too big to wrap around, although you didnt give up! He kept you warm as the nurses and doctor came in to try and clamp your cord and make sure I was okay. You fell asleep in those warm arms. Those safe, loving arms.


Today is not only your 7 month birthday; it is also the gestational day in this pregnancy with your little brother and little sister that I was with you when I went into labor. I had just come home from a prenatal yoga class and saw spotting. We hurried to the hospital and I was dilated to 2cm with your water bag pressing on my opening cervix. But you were my strong little boy and you held on for more than 3 days until you peacefully came into our world and made it brighter.

I love you, my sweet cuddlebug, my Alexander. I love you so much. Thank you for making me your mommy.

As promised: 15w5d pics

Monday, June 22, 2009

10 comments
As promised, here are the scanned images from last Thursday's appointment

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Cute little Robert Benjamin


and his adorable sister, Maya Eirene

Post-Father's Day Update

5 comments
Saturday was 16w... The day that I longed for and dreaded... The day that Robert and Maya became older than Nicholas in the womb. Friday night came and went. Saturday morning, I was terrified that my water would break when I went for my 3am and 6am pee's. But no, no preterm labor. No water breaking. No contractions. Peter gave me my P17 injection at 11:30am. He's a great caregiver. After rubbing a (dripping) ice cube over my bottom, he did the same technique with Alexander for a no pain stick (which, given the number of "bad" stick experiences I've heard about with the injections, is a feat). He does the ice, then an alcohol wipe, squeezes the stick point (nice and in the middle of a cheek... take that for an image!), and then does the injection after rubbing the syringe to get the liquid as thin as possible (it needs to be kept at room temp but a nurse suggested, after pulling the 1ml, to rub the syringe between your hands to drop some of the viscosity, which adds to pain). It's a slow injection because of the thickness, which makes you want to ask, "are we done yet?" but it was soon over and he helped me into the shower to let the hot water beat down on my bum. With Alexander, this was the end of the pain. Walking from the bedroom to shower, I'd had pain in my leg, but after the shower, not so much. A little sore, almost like I'd gone for a run without some good stretching.

Not. This. Time. So, I have no pain walking to the shower (a much shorter walk than from our real bedroom to the bathroom, since the living room and bathroom are practically next to each other). I get in the shower and the water feels great. I hang out and let the water just pour down my backside and then do my real shower. No problem. Peter helps me out of the shower and the pain begins. Before I can even get to the bed, the sciatica in my left side (the side where we injected- I have sciatica in both sides, so it's luck of the draw) hits so badly that I can barely walk. Peter has to support my weight to the bed and get me laying down with my body pillow between my legs. And the rubbing begins. He rubbed my butt until I fell asleep, which was nice. I slept for several hours until, you guessed it, I had to pee. And I couldnt walk. Now, because of the sciatica, Peter walks me to the bathroom often anyway (I never said marriage was glamorous...) When he isnt home, we have furniture for the entire journey so that I can hobble and support myself, but he prefers to help when he's home because he's afraid I will fall. So, I would say for most of the afternoon, I alternated between sciatica in my left
side so badly that I cried or slept. He must have rubbed my butt a half a dozen times. But finally, by yesterday, it was mostly back to normal, with the sciatica still there but as it has been for the last 10-12w. I was actually surprised by the literal pain in the ass this time. Because I had no real pain after Alexander's shot, I expected this to be the same. But, all in all, my injection is by far, one of the best experiences I've heard. So, no complaints.

Yesterday was Father's Day. I was so tired that I ended up taking several naps, two of which were with Peter. (the best kind!) We went to the 7:30 Mass with his parents and the dads got blessed. One of the sweetest things was that, during the intercessions, that we prayed for the father's who had lost a child. This was special not only for Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander, but also for our newest son's namesake, his Uncle Robert, who died at 7 years old. I was so glad that these special dads (of whom their are several in our parish that I know of and countless more, I'm sure, that I dont) were remembered in addition to the prayer for all dads. Afterwards, when we got home, we took a nap. (I was so tired and Peter will never give up an opportunity to nap). We had brunch reservations with his parents and my dad at 11am, so we made those. During which, I had such intense hot flashes that I had to sit quietly for most of the event. But the food was yummy. When we got home, you guessed it, a nap. I ended up sleeping for most of the day, waking for the bathroom and to eat. I was just so tired. Peter napped with me and then mowed the grass. Even though it was Father's Day, since we've been buried in rain, he decided to take advantage of the sunny afternoon and do the yard. What a trooper. Then he made dinner. Not exactly the way you want dad to put his feet up, but he just shrugged it off and said he'd have other father's days where he wouldnt be mowing grass or cooking.

Last Father's Day was bittersweet for two reasons. It was the first after Nicholas and Sophia had been born... We were also anticipating our second miscarriage since our blood tests had been poor. I remember Peter saying to me, softly, "I hope he is with us for Father's Day" and all day long, I had prayed that I wouldnt start miscarrying. We were fortunate to hold onto our little one until the week after Father's Day. This year, pregnant again, with another son born, was once again bittersweet. Praying for our children not with us... Praying that these precious babies will spend a lot more time in the womb...

We've been in the week of Alexander's labor and birth gestationally. Yesterday, was that last OB appointment, Nov. 17th, where my cervix was a great measurement of 4. Tomorrow will be the day that my labor began and I dilated to 2cm. I have a feeling that the next few days will be the hardest as we remember those days in the hospital... The dilating... Alex's legs and partial bag slipping through the cervix... His water breaking, which forced him back into the womb... The placenta previa... The 3:45am delivery of our little breech baby, with his perfect legs coming out first, kicking like the soccer star he was in the womb, those little hands reaching around his daddy's hand, his shoulders moving back and forth and his head turning as though he was taking in the world around him... Just as last week was hard, this week is hard too...

In addition, we are remembering our first of those two special weeks home with Sophia, those early days where the grief at losing Nick was so tight in our chests and our hope that Sophie would stay just one more hour... one more day... was the only rational thought. Thank you for abiding with us during this time. Your prayers mean so much, as do your remembering with us.

May I add another remembrance for today? Today, my brother-in-law would be 29 years old. As some of you may know, Robert was diagnosed with neuroblastoma when he was 4 years old. He went into remission for a few years before being the cancer returning when he was 6 years old. On November 1, 1987, a little over 4 months after his summer solstice birthday, he passed away. We remember him every day, but will especially remember him today with his favorite meal and a birthday cake. My in-laws are coming over around 6:30pm.

And, while not a remembrance... Cross your fingers for my girlfriend, Meg, who is being induced today, as she is a week over her confirmed due date. Lucy is her third pregnancy and her first child to have a healthy full term pregnancy; she lost her first two to very early miscarriages. As you can imagine, she has anticipated this moment and didnt expect to have to be induced. She was due to go in this morning and I am waiting for that special phone call or email. Cross your fingers and say a special prayer that 41w old Lucy is born safely. She has been measuring larger than normal and they opted for no genetic testing, so we are praying that her size is just because she's from strong Irish stock and nothing more.

Here we are...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

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Lilypie Expecting a baby Ticker

So, here we are. 16 weeks... Robert and Maya are now gestationally older than their big brother, Nicholas.

Yesterday, other than the sorrow, anxiety, and soreness from the vag u/s wand, was pretty uneventful. I cried a lot and snuggled with their blanket. When Peter came home, he just curled up with me and we remembered and held. He made Nick's dinner and, at 7:45, we just let the world sink away while we shared memories from his birth and life. At 8:45... when he journeyed on to his eternal life... we said a special prayer and had his meal. A hard night. But we cant remember without smiling through our tears.

And so, now we are here.

I remember this milestone with Alexander. The worry and then the sort of calm, the "we made it this far so we'll be fine." If only... We are now a week away from his gestational birth, on day 106 of pregnancy. Next Saturday... 7 short (long) days away...

Thank you all for abiding with us during this time. For your understanding, prayers, and support. It is so very appreciated.

15w6d

Friday, June 19, 2009

11 comments
This is not how I pictured this moment
Not how I imagined this
Not what I had planned

In my mind, I saw this happening so many ways
Through tears
Through pain
But always with time
So much time

Your hands reach for me
I hold you as much as I can
Feeling you move in my hands
Your heart beating beneath my fingers

Your strong heart
You have such a strong heart
My sweet prince

You kick and my fingers caress your long legs
Your tiny toes, so perfect, lick at my wrists
Your tiny fingers grasp my finger
I must be in heaven even though I am in hell

I cant see you
The fog descends and you are the important one
The one that we must save
The one that we must fight for

Our little fighter
You are such a strong boy
My sweet prince

The time was short
Although in those instances
Life went on forever

I didn’t hold you enough
Love you enough
Hug you enough
Kiss you enough

God, could I have that moment back?
Please?
Just for a little while?
I promise- I wont be greedy…
Just a little more time…
A do over?

He held you so softly
A father’s touch
So gentle
So perfect
“Our son”

Our son

No one knows the depth of those words
The gravity of the gift
Until it is gone
A light extinguished
A life over before it began

A joy unequaled
A grief unmatched

Our son

My blessing
My heartache
I would give anything to hold you in my arms again
My life
My love

I hold you in my heart until I can hold you in my arms again
I keep you safely in my memories
My arms ache with the emptiness your presence has left
My heart is broken apart by the love that overwhelmed me…

And overwhelms me still.

When the rain kisses me
Or the wind hugs me
You are there

When your father holds me
And my tears come
You are there

You will always be there…
Here…
Inside of me…


The pain of this day is just as clear as it was over 16 months ago, when out of the blue, Nicholas was born, just as we were getting ready to sit down to dinner. I've been counting down the days to this point in pregnancy. With angst... God only knows if we will survive this day. With hope... That we will move beyond this heartbreaking milestone. With nostalgia... Remembering the moment, at 7:45pm, when our precious, firstborn son was born to us, with his strong heartbeat and delicate fingers wrapping around our fingers. With sadness... As these baby siblings become "older" gestationally than their oldest brother.

I dont think people fully understand why today (and next Saturday and the follow Saturday) are so hard. They think that we should be thrilled that we are passing these dates and coming one step closer to a full term delivery. And, no doubt, we are happy that we are still pregnant and our twins are doing well. That is the prayer for every day. But, without a frame of reference, most people have no idea the feelings that days like this evoke. With the miscarriages, because they were so early, there is that "please let me get beyond 8w" feeling. Which is still a load of stress, but I think because the chances of miscarriage (especially with PCOS) are high, that I handle that a bit better even though it hurts just as much. But because the risk of 2nd trimester loss is so low... It's one of those anomalies... Where lightening shouldnt strike twice... But it did. Folks dont seem to understand that fear... That pain... That hurt... And worse, most people think that the cerclage fixes everything. No one imagines that one could fail. But they could... And thanks to Dr. Google, I know quite a number of horror stories of failure. I'm holding on to Dr. Bailey's confidence that this stitch is good and is going to hold, but I'm still afraid.

While it may not sound it by this post, I do feel some peace in this pregnancy... That feeling that we are doing 100% all that we can do and that we can't do any more than that. That God is really in control. That, even if the pregnancy ends tomorrow or if one or both of my babies goes to a restful sleep in my womb never to wake again, that I will be grateful for these months. That, while I hope month 5 turns into month 6 and beyond, I am truly thankful for the 4 months that I had, nurturing my growing belly... Singing to them... Holding them... Loving them... No matter what, I wouldnt give that up.

I am sad. I am nervous. God, how I am nervous. Things look good, though, and while that doesnt quell my angst or give me peace of mind, it helps me to breathe. And right now, in this journey of growing babies, breathing is the most important thing.

15w5d

Thursday, June 18, 2009

9 comments
We just got home from our 2:30pm appointment with Dr. Bailey (yes, it is almost 6:30). We left at 1:30 and got there on time, but weren't seen until almost 3:45. It was jam packed busy. I've rarely had to sit directly next to someone, but the office was completely full. And, because we need the u/s room, it usually delays our appointments. We are used to an hour wait. I brought Ina May's Guide to Childbirth with me and read on that. The time passed quickly, except that I really REALLY needed to pee.

The appointment went really well. Dr. B. asked how I was feeling and I was honest with him about tomorrow and the next 2 weeks. I asked, point blank, about the cerclage failing and he really addressed my concerns in a way that made me feel more positive. He said that the risks in the immediate of placing a cerclage is amniotic sac rupture and that we are far beyond that, so no worries on that end. As to it failing later in pregnancy, he said that he really felt it will only start to feel strain once the weight of the babies begins to really press on it, between the 5-6 pound range and that, at that point, he will want even more severe bedrest, just to make sure. But that we have time. I asked him, "Are you sure that I'm not going to go into labor within the next few weeks?" He answered that, although he is not a fortune teller, he does not think that I will go into labor. That the stitch will hold and that he truly believes things are not going to end prior to 26 weeks, at the point that he would like us to be even more severe in keeping in bed, etc, to try and just keep the babies in for 10 more weeks. But he was very positive. And really tried to reassure us that things are GOING to be okay this time.

He did the abdominal ultrasound first and, as always, they are so beautiful. Robert has big feet, just like his daddy, and you can so his very well defined toes. Very cute. He was kicking his sister (who, not to be outdone, was kicking back). He rolled around a lot and kept putting his butt up in the air, which got us a nice shot of his boy parts. Maya wasn't flopping around as much but was very active and you could see her hands and delicate little fingers. She had no issue propping her legs open for the world to see her whoohaa and, after the show, Dr. B. said that he was sure we were having one of each. No doubts. We listened to their heartbeats, which are just music to our ears. Very, very nice.

He did a vaginal ultrasound to confirm my cervical measurement and, thankfully, found no change from our last appointment 2 weeks ago. It was still over 4 and the stitching is still holding. I felt uncomfortable after the exam (but who wouldnt when you arent used to any "activity" to suddenly have something probing your nether regions). But the exams both went well and the babies were doing great. We discussed my P17 shots (which begin on Saturday) and my 20w anatomy scan, along with the next round of sequential screen tests that I'll go for in 2w prior to his next appointment so that I dont have to go to the hospital next week and the following.

Overall, it was a good appointment, even though I still am having fear. My BP was up to 138/84 (which for me isnt high but I was really hoping to keep it in the good range of our last appt) but otherwise nothing bad.

Peter will scan in the pictures from today tomorrow or this weekend, but here are the pictures from our June 4th appointment that I have been lax in posting (mostly because he was lax in scanning!) They looked just as gorgeous today, but a tad bigger.


Robert @ 13w5d (6/4/09)


Maya @ 13w5d (6/4/09)

11 years

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

15 comments
It's been 11 years since that first "I Do". 825 miles... 2 teenagers in love... a lifetime that has come and gone in the span of 11 short years. Some days, it feels like just yesterday when I met that 19 year old boy with the dark, brooding eyes and the boyish smile. Just yesterday when he asked a 17 year old girl to marry him, a girl who exchanged vows from a (lifted) Episcopal wedding booklet (have I mentioned, Terri, that I kept that bootleg book and that we've renewed our vows from it, several times?) 10 days after she turned 18. Just yesterday where, in that moment, my entire life changed and I felt fully reborn. Although we didnt celebrate our marriage with a lovely wedding until 15 months later, after Peter graduated from college, and didnt have our sacramental (Catholic) ceremony until another 4 months later, it is June 17th that we celebrate as our true anniversary. The anniversary of the time when, before God, we made those sacred promises: to love one another... through better or worse... for richer or for poorer... in sickness and in health... forsaking all others... until we are parted by death. And even death, I dont think, could part us. Not then. Surely, not now. No one sends cards on the 17th... No one realizes why we dont accept visitors or hang out on this special day... Peter's grandmother once smiled at me and said "I know that you two got married secretly. How romantic." It was.. Oh, it was...

I love this man. I love him completely. In that sick, movie sort of way that makes you want to gag. In that deep, intense way that you see in the eyes of elderly couples that have lived lifetimes together. 11 years. So much time. So little. 11 years. 6 pregnancies. 3 miscarried babies. 3 precious infants in our arms that passed on too suddenly. 2 babies still safely inside. College degrees. Jobs lost and gained. Caring for a sick parent for 2 years (and beyond). Houses we hated... Houses we loved... 11 years. Several cars later... A horrible car accident that, at one time, we thought was the worst thing we'd ever survive...

He's carried me in my darkest moments, and I, him in his. We've held each other through the pain. Our love has filled in the holes left by sexual assault and sibling death. We've completed one another to where you cant tell where one of us stops and the other begins.

Love. Such a small word. Such a big thing. I love you, Peter. I would live these 11 years again. Being your wife is second only to being mother to our children. It is a call in my life that I will answer every day. A life that I will always live. "For love is as strong as death... Many waters cannot quench love... Neither can the floods drown it..."

I love you for the boy that I still hear in your laughter. I love you for the gray hairs that have started to speckle your (nearly) 31 year old head. I love you for the tiny wrinkles that hide around your eyes and for the five o'clock shadow that scratches my cheek when you kiss me at night. I love you for the kisses that make my heart flutter, for the caress of your hand that makes my breath catch in my throat. I love you for the eye rolls that echo my desire to watch a scary movie, and that you sit and watch it with me anyway. I love you for the long conversations about God and the universe and anything else we can think of. I love that you took a broken me and made me whole again. I love that you have taught me how to forgive the past I cannot change and to embrace the future that we have together. I love you for never hiding your feelings from me and crying in my arms when you need to. I love you, my lean-to. My husband. My best friend. The other half that God created, just for me. My lover. My soul mate. My Peter. I love you, so much.

Happy Anniversary, my dear. This year may be the year that we dont go far or do much, but rest assured that it is still a wonderful anniversary, full of our love and our children.

If the next decades go as quickly as the one that has gone by, then we'll hit 75 years in no time. :) I love you, Peter. Yesterday. Today. Always.

Happy 16m birthday, Sophia

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

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Your daddy and I were discussing the special two weeks we had with you, after your brother was born. The way you swooshed in my belly. They way you curled up under our hands when we rested them on my abdomen. So wonderful. So full of hope... Of faith. Our little wisdom... Our princess... It's been 16 months since you were born. 16 months since those back breaking contractions that I smile to think back on. 16 months since your labor hit so hard that it took my breath away. I'd do it all again, every day, to have you in my arms again.

Happy Birthday, my sweet girl. I love you so much, Sophia.

Unwelcome Guest?

Monday, June 15, 2009

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I have a fear of rodents. I dont think that they are cute or fuzzy. I love animals, but I have to admit that I think keeping a rat or a mouse as a pet freaks me out. When I was a kid, I occasionally remember my
mom putting out the neckbreaker traps. I rarely remember seeing a mouse although I didnt have the fear I grew to have. I just didnt like the whole idea. But, we had cats. Mice- not really a problem.

One summer night, when I was maybe 12, I was laying in bed. It was hot and we didnt have a/c. (Sounds like how every good, southern story starts.) I was laying in bed, looking across the room at my open window, where the moonlight poured in and a fan blew in the cooler night air. As I was watching, I saw the unthinkable. Something. It was big and had a long tail. It walked on my hope chest, sitting in front of the window, and the moonlight made it visible in the darkness. It was big. It wasn't a mouse. I didn't know what it was and I screamed like I was being murdered. My parents were in my bedroom in an instant. The light was long and I was trying to tearfully explain that there was SOMETHING in my room. There was nothing on the hope chest but I just KNEW that I had seen SOMETHING. SOMETHING BIG.

My mom dropped to her knees and looked under my bed, while my dad went towards the window and looked under the hope chest. He looked back at me and said, "I think you scared it more than it scared you. It's under here. Shivering. Probably deaf." I wasnt happier to know that I had seen something and was freaked. My mom took me into their bedroom, where she was matching socks on the bed. I climbed up on their big king size bed and tried to not think about the THING in my room. Moments later, after being unable to figure out how to get it out, my dad came in an got his 38, the same pistol that I learned how to shoot with on my great-grandparent's farm. He went back into my room and, after telling us to hold our ears, a piercing "bang" broke the silence of the night. Within a half hour, I was back in my room. My dad had cleaned the baseboard with alcohol (he probably had no clue where the cleaning supplies were) and took care of the body of IT. There was always an indentation in that baseboard where the bullet lodged. Dad gave me the shell casing. My hero. Who took care of the boogything.

I kept that bullet casing for years. I remember having it in my jewelry box when I went to college. But somewhere along the line, I let it go. I dont know what happened to it, but I no longer have it. In high school, it sat on my bookcase. An enduring sign that my dad could take care of whatever was there that was scary. Was it a rat? A possum? I have no idea. It wasnt a mouse. It really was big. Dad always called it a rat but where the heck do you get a rat in our neighborhood? I'd never seen one before and never saw one after.

Fast forward. I dont like rodents. They can live outside all they want- but not with me. When we moved to Montgomery County, we lived in farm-ish areas. Field mice are common here and most of our friends in farmhouses like ours talk about seeing at least one during a winter. When we set them, we set humane traps and Peter releases them in the next town over (I dont want them to come back). Mind you, Peter does this. Not me. I dont even want to see them, I dont care how "cute" Peter swears they are.

We moved to this house in September 2007. I love this house. No issues. Until February. Until I am home on bedrest with Sophia, after Nicholas was born. Of course. It was one of the first nights that Peter decided he would leave me for an hour or two, since I would be going to sleep, to go to work. And what happens? I see a freaking mouse. And not only do I see it, but it decides to play mind games with me. It hides behind the couch and keeps peaking out, to which I promptly scream and it hides again. Peter was halfway to work when I called him and told him he had to come home. NOW. He came back, of course, and, thank you fate, couldnt find the mouse. I swore it was there. He said that we had no traps, so he'd go to the all night supermarket and get some. I must have cried like a baby, telling him that I just KNEW the mouse would come back when he left. It didnt but he set the trap and, by the morning, had caught our little uninvited guest. The next night, he caught a second unwanted visitor. Then, nothing. Not last winter. Nada.

Friday night, I woke up and swore that I heard a rustling sound. So, being me, I woke Peter up. He tells me there is no sound. Then I hear a tapping noise. I wake him back up. He tells me it's the house settling and to go back to bed. I dozed in between, but was 100% sure that I had heard something. The next morning, Peter was so tired from being woken several times in the heart of his deep sleep that he slept until 9:30am (great thing that it was Saturday, although he missed church and leading the rosary, which he wasnt thrilled about.) He looked around and swore that he couldnt find anything to imply a mouse and that I was probably paranoid and to not worry. All day, no noise. We go to bed around 10pm. Mind you, we have to get up to make the 7:30am Mass because Peter has home visits for Communion.

Midnight. I hear the rustling of the garbage bag. Rustle... Rustle.. Rustle... I nudge Peter until he wakes up. "Do you hear that?" I whisper. Finally, he acknowledges it. The rustling gets louder and then a THUNK, as though something has fallen into my garbage can. Light flips on and Peter is right there! Nothing. NOTHING! How could there be nothing??? Peter removes the garbage bag, just in case, even though he sees nothing, and takes it to the garbage. He sets 2 mouse traps. I swear, once the light goes out, that I hear something flicking the mousetrap doors (they are humane boxes). He hears something, too, and, an hour after his first excursion, gets up and checks. Nothing. At this point, I am getting quite ticked off. I know that there is SOMETHING. Where the heck is it??? Am I crazy?

Laying in bed, Peter tells me that he thinks that I am either hearing something that is outside (our bed is pressed up against the 2 living room windows, which face our patio that sees lots of squirrels and chipmunks and groundhogs, who try to eat my flowers!) or that I am hearing something in the basement (directly beneath us). I tell him that I think he's nuts and try to convince him that we HEARD rustling!!!! He swears that it could have been a number of things- outside the house. We fall asleep. We go to church and he does his visits. Afterwards, sweetie that he is, he loaded the wheelchair and took me to BestBuy (to look at laptops, so that he could order my birthday gift, a little late but that's because I hadnt approved the size of the machine which he wanted to do at BestBuy) then he wheeled me into Michaels so that I could pick up some scrapbook stickers and some things for our Respect Life group's Father's Day sale at church (we are doing kisses for dads, chocolate kisses wrapped in tulle). It was nice to get out and feel the sun on my face, but at the same time, not have to worry about walking around. We had lunch out, too, which was nice. I felt bad about him wheeling me around, but he joked that it was a stroller for grown-ups and made noises as he sped up or slowed down. (Have I mentioned how much I love this man???) We took a nap when we came home, no doubt because of our night time shenanigans. Last night, before bed, what does he say? "I dont care what you think you hear, dont wake me up." He does have work... I can understand this... He sat a trap in the basement. And what happens??? Still empty traps in the living room and no noises last night. (Of course, the basement trap is empty too.)

I must be crazy... Or worse, Peter is right and it's something outside. Yep... I'm crazy. Completely nuts.

T minus 1 week

Friday, June 12, 2009

14 comments
We are slowly but quickly drawing closer to day 98 of pregnancy... The day prior to a full 16w... The day that my beautiful Nicholas was born and worked his hardest to make his tiny lungs breathe. Oh God. I knew this day would come and I knew that it would be harder than it was when Alexander passed that milestone. For the last two weeks, I have counted down the days. And here we are... Day 91... 7 days away. When that day comes it will be only matter of a few days before we see day 106 (when Alexander was born) or day 113 (when Sophia was born). What will I do when (if???) we pass by those days and then these babies are older than their big brothers and sister. What grief will be unleashed? With Alexander, it was day 101 that I finally felt secure in his pregnancy. The day that an ultrasound showed how long and closed my cervix was. The day that I finally felt like "we will make it". 2 days before my cervix dilated and we rushed to the hospital... 5 days before my young son was born. giving us those perfect, wonderful five minutes before meeting his brother and sister face to face. Will I ever feel that secure in this pregnancy? That feeling of "we will make it"? Will it be 24 weeks? 26 weeks? 36 weeks? Ever?

I continue with the positive affirmations and the praying. So far, things seem okay. I still have the clear, watery discharge that rates a 4 on the pH scale (4=normal vaginal discharge). I hate sneezing. I hate "going" to the bathroom. But, the babies are okay. They move (especially Maya, who seems to be located more front forward that her brother) and we sit in moments of bliss as we listen to their heartbeats on the doppler. Things really do look good. I cant really complain. I am so grateful to be here. But the next few weeks are going to be rough. I ask you to bear with me. I may post a lot. I may not post at all. I may post negative thoughts. Or positive ones. I really dont know. Our next prenatal appt is next Thursday, on day 97. Will a positive appt mitigate the pain of day 98? I dont think so... Not after what happened with Alexander. But it will help, I'm sure. The reassurance of seeing them (and seeing a closed cervix) helps.

I have been lax in working on the baby book. We have pictures, I just havent had access to my printer to make pages (my computer is downstairs, but the printers are upstairs). I created pages yesterday on my computer. All that remains is for them to be printed. Peter printed most of the pictures I've asked for, so once I get the pages printed, I'll update about a half dozen at once (from Mother's Day to present). I love working on the books. I still look through the books I created for Nicholas & Sophia and Alexander. I even reread their journals from time to time. I love remembering and seeing them. Their faces are the most beautiful I've seen, as these faces inside are. They are the best parts of their father and I. The very best parts.

As many know, I will be taking P17 shots again with this pregnancy. With Alex, Dr. B. ordered 2 vials of 10ml each, which is 10 shots a bottle. When I reordered, it was under the same order. Imagine my surprise when a 4ml bottle arrived. I called the pharmacy and apparently they got such crap from insurance companies for providing more than a monthly dose that they no longer mix larger bottles. So, instead of 2 bottles for this pregnancy (for a total copay of $40 and no shipping charges b/c of the cost), I now get to order 5 bottles (and because our copay remains $20 for fertility drugs max no matter what, we get to pay shipping on the single bottles since they cant ship more than one at a time, which means a total of $150). That's great. Not that I care if it helps prevent PROM. Hey, I'll pay the full amount that our insurance company pays (in the neighborhood of $350 with shipping) if it means protecting the babies. But I wasn't planning on the extra $90. What does Peter, my scientist say? "I didnt like the 10ml bottle anyway. There was too much risk for contamination with each stick. 4ml is much better and I'm glad they aren't doing the large side anymore." Well, thanks. I know that is true, but could you be a little upset that we are paying more? No sell. At all. And, in the end, $90 is a small price to pay. Shut up, Michele, and be grateful that you have good insurance, where you normally dont pay more than $10 for a drug and no more than $20 for a single shipment of fertility drugs. Just shut up. (Shutting up...)

"You've got great..."

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

4 comments
I went to the dentist yesterday for my 6 months check-up. Last appointment was in December, around the 14th or so I think, shortly after Alexander was born. The staff are wonderful. It's a local place and they know us, the babies, our history... They are so great to us. The receptionist immediately asked "Are you rubbing your belly?" and was very excited for us. We chatted for a few minutes until the hygienist brought me back. We discussed good dental care when pregnant and started the appointment. I had my cleaning and then the dentist came in to check my teeth out and discuss my wisdom teeth extraction (back in December). And he comes out with "You've got great gums." Well, at least, I can do something right, I thought to myself. I have a great uterus too, according to our midwife, and that didnt stop my "beautiful cervix" from being a nightmare in disguise. But, I digress.

This is good news, about my gums, actually. The last appointment, the dentist was concerned that I was using too hard of a toothbrush. So I switched to a soft. And, apparently, it's made all the difference. Yay for me. Well, this is the first pregnancy that my gums havent bled, so that is something... And, my plaque and gingivitis was the lowest on the chart (and was "mostly only between the teeth, so floss more!" said the hygienist).

And now, I am tired. Yesterday was a busy day and I was so wiped out that I just crashed after dinner. And I'm still tired now. I take that as a good sign. I'm eating and sleeping, so they are healthy. This is my positive affirmation for the day. I pick different ones each day and just repeat them over and over again. It really does help. Try it... It helps keep the stress monster away.

Birthday follow-up

Monday, June 8, 2009

11 comments
So... Yesterday was the day. We spent the weekend together... at home... no one came over and it was great. We went to church on Sunday morning but, otherwise, didnt go out. We cuddled a lot. All weekend. It was what I wanted... needed...

I received quite a bit of money for my birthday, which blew me out of the water. I dont really know what to get "me", which is what people asked me to do. Perhaps I'll just save it until post pregnancy. But I did spend some of it... I bought...

A stroller. And I cried and cried. We have a beautiful perfect, completed nursery. If an infant moved in today, they'd be clothed and have a perfect room. I love going into the nursery and sitting in the rocking chair. (It's upstairs, so I wont be there for a while...) The stroller we chose with Nicholas and Sophia is the one we are currently registered for, and it is so popular that it is never in stock. Well... we not only found it, but for $30 less and free shipping. Peter said the comment that inspired me to hit the "confirm order" button. "Every baby deserves that we 100% invest in them. Our fear cant allow us to second guess getting ready for them. We wouldnt not invest in their college fund because they might die before getting there." So, I hit that button. It will get here sometime in July. And I wont think about any other outcome rather than pushing them around in it.

I'm still addicted to my pH strips. What would I do without that constant reassurance!!! I've been having a clear, odorless, watery discharge. Those pH strips confirm it's 4 or 4.5 and the dreaded amniotic fluid 7.5 (or even 7 or 8). 4-6 is normal discharge. 6, for me, is what my urine is (yes, I check...) Anyone who has been, wants to be, or is pregnant knows the fear of watery discharge. Even though every u/s shows constant, full water bags, it still freaks me out. And, sometimes, with the rest of the stress, the discharge is just too much. Hence, the wonderful pH strips. The minute the freak out starts, a strip comes out, and a breath of relief comes out. Those combined with the home doppler - maybe I will survive! (LOL)

The twins are... (13w5d update)

Friday, June 5, 2009

23 comments
(Once pics are scanned, I'll update this post.)

Last night at 4pm, we had our appointment with Dr. Bailey and I knew by the wait in the office that someone, somewhere had had a baby and that our wonderful doctor was way behind schedule. We took a seat and I read two magazines before we were called back and settled into the ultrasound room at 5pm. It took a few more minutes, but then Dr. B. came in and sat down. We discussed how things were going, how I was feeling, etc. My blood pressure was the lowest it's been in any of my pregnancies (124/76) and I'm down 4 pounds (you didn't really think I was going to post my weight, did you?); he was really happy, especially with my blood pressure. We discussed the P17 injections and I'll be starting those at 16w. We also discussed some additional bloodtests with my second round of sequential tests in a few weeks, and then doing a fasting glucose at 26w. (He can think farther ahead than I can with no problems...) As we ended our discussion, he smiled and said, "I dont know about you; I love the chitchat, but I want to see how the babies are doing!" (And this is why I love you, Dr. Bailey.) Before we began, we showed him our favorite pictures from the high res u/s that we had last week and he chuckled, "These are good, but I can do better." (Have I mentioned that I love this guy?)

We started with an abdominal ultrasound and immediately both babies appeared on the screen. I usually start with Baby A then Baby B, but we saw them in reverse order this time because A decided to try and hide (little stinker!). Baby B was on her back, legs in the air, arms in the air, rolling around like a rolypoly. Absolutely adorable. And then, there it was. Legs open, Dr. B. paused the u/s shot. Three little lines. Her vagina. Baby B is most certainly a little girl. I cried and we let out a sigh as we said her name, "Maya." Maya, who is named in memory of the daughter of a friend- of the first blog I found after losing Nicholas and Sophia and the one that helped me realize that life was going to suck but I would be able to breathe again- had a very strong HB and measured on target. We were able to hear Baby A's heartbeat but the little stinker continued to hide. The baby looked almost upright, with everything below the chest hidden from view. I dont think I've ever seen a baby like that on u/s.

Dr. Bailey switched to the vaginal u/s to check my cervix. The stitch, he tells us, is perfect, beautiful, and looks great. It is very high, right under my bladder and at the top of the cervix, all the way to the bottom. It was slightly curved, so the measurement is slightly off, but a straight line was over 4cm. AMEN. THANK YOU GOD. Still T shaped, he was thrilled and said that he truly believes this is what will do it and get us full term. He slid slightly over and, in full shot, was Baby A. And it was clear that our baby has a penis. Even I could see it. When Dr. B. paused the image over our son, it was very much there and in our faces. Little Bobby- his name is Robert, the name of my brother-in-law who passed away as a child as well as my husband's uncle who died as a child but was called Bobby- was very content to flip flop after that, showing his genitals to anyone who would see. I joked with Peter that I would have to call Dr. Lee and tell her that she was only half right, LOL.

After the u/s, we discussed bedrest and appointments. Dr. Bailey would like to continue seeing us every two weeks and would like me to stay in bed. While he said that he has no doubts that the stitch will hold, he doesnt see a reason to tempt fate, especially when my BP is finally under control. The risk of preeclampsia is pretty darn scary, so I cant say that I'm surprised. We ended up leaving the office a little before 6pm and I picked up the lab slip for my additional tests as I was leaving with pictures of our babies... our son and our daughter. I didn't make it out of the room without crying. As much as I was prepared for anything as long as the babies were safe and okay, I dont know that I was prepared for the same words that I heard over a year ago... And the funny thing is, I wasnt caught off guard.

Peter and I make it a habit to meditate on the babies. We both would say when asked that our RE thought the babies were girls and, if pressed, would give the names we had assigned to the babies, should that be right. But, when we would talk at night, we would discuss our feelings and, inevitably, it all came back to "I felt a boy and a girl today". This wasnt everyday, mind you, but the strongest was at church, when the Cardinal came. I sat there and thought "Oh God, I'm having another set of boy/girl twins". Afterwards, Peter told me that he'd heard the babies singing and that he heard alto and bass lines. (Peter is a bass, I'm a soprano.) He told me then that he really thought Baby A was a boy and that we'd have to wait a bit for Miss Z to make an appearance. I confessed that I, too, had feelings of boy and girl, but that I wasnt ready to say it out loud... That it was too hard... That I just couldnt handle it yet. He just hugged me and said that it was okay. That the babies were fine. To take a deep breath and continue the positive thoughts.

Going into the appointment, I knew what Dr. Bailey would say. I had no doubts. And I cried like a baby when he confirmed it. It was finally out there. In the world. We are having our second set of boy/girl twins, in the same positions that their oldest brother and sister were in. He even said, "After all you've been through, isnt it something to be having another baby boy and baby girl together." All I could say was "It's scary." In retrospect, I wish I'd been able to say something else, but so words would come. I had to joke with Deb, the nurse, on my way out when she congratulated us, to avoid crying. "We have enough clothes for each," I laughed, "so they wont be naked!" And then, I cried walking to the car and in the car. And then, it was okay. It was as though the kids all said "Dont worry, Mommy. It's going to be alright."

So, there you have it. Bobby and Maya. Healthy and fine. Daddy and Mommy. No worse for wear. I have to call in several prescription refills today, get the P17 filled, and make my appts with Dr. B's office (since everyone was gone by the time we left.) My dad is coming over around lunchtime to hang out, then we will celebrate his birthday tonight. And, of course, there's my nap... I'll have to fit that in somewhere...

Thank you for all the prayers. They continue to bring us comfort and are working to keep my cervix closed, the stitch in place, and the babies healthy. We couldnt ask for better this pregnancy.

Natural Birth

Thursday, June 4, 2009

10 comments
With Nicholas and Sophie, we found a Bradley instructor to prepare us for natural childbirth, but, due to their early entrances into the world, we never made the first class. Nicholas was born naturally by circumstance; after a mere 5 minutes of what I described to Peter as "severe gas pains", he was born seconds after my water broke. Sophia's labor began Saturday after dinner with back pain. It continued into the morning and at 2:30 in the afternoon my water broke, spiraling a backache into painful back labor, which continued until she was born at 6:08pm. I was starting to hyperventilate, not from the pain but from the knowledge that my daughter was being born into this world only to die... The pain of that was worse than any physical pain I was in. Labor was, well, labor. That knowledge, however, was agony. I couldn't breathe. I was a mass of sobs. And, as a result, the kind on-call OB, who I truly believe thought he was doing the right thing and couldn't think of any other way to calm me down, hooked up a morphine drip. I did calm slightly down although I don't remember it really doing much to the pain. In retrospect, I know that it most likely slowed Sophia's breathing down, since morphine has that effect on babies, which shortened her already short life. As I was holding her afterwards, I had to give her to Peter as I puked up the nonexistent food in my stomach in response to the morphine. I had read about the side effects of drugs on babies and it influenced our decision to "try" natural birthing. After reading about morphine's effect, I made a decision that, unless our lives were in danger, I wouldn't knowingly accept drugs to birth any future children. Immediately after conceiving Alexander, I contacted our Bradley instructor and she, graciously, agreed to one-on-one classes. In the sessions we completed prior to Alex's birth, we covered pain and natural ways to relieve it, meditations, and different massage techniques, in addition to discussing drugs and their possible impacts, as well as reasons (other than convenience of either parent or doctor) to consider a c-section. I loved those classes. When Alexander's water broke, Peter says that I was more calm than he's ever seen me. That he knew I was afraid and that we both knew the outcome of his labor prior to that much-hoped for 24w. But, in that, was peace. I slept after contractions and when his labor hit full force, breathed, talked to him, and labored naturally until he was born into this world for those beautiful moments. It was the labor that I had hoped for- for all of our babies. His older siblings had taught me more than a book or a class, and he gave us the dream of a drug free, peaceful labor.

Why such a rambling? In addition to having pulled out my natural childbirth books and reviewing them, I've occasionally (much to Peter's dismay) flipped on a baby show. Not often, mind you. I can't take it. The teenagers. The comments. The innocence. The watching it all work out. Sometimes, I'll watch the ones which the preview marks as pregnancy after loss or natural birth or Bradley birth. Those are really the only ones that I feel like I can attempt. I rarely make the full half hour. But today, feeling a little confident as I countdown the moments until our 4pm appointment with Dr. Bailey, I thought, I'd check out the info button. Sure enough, "2 women have natural births". I flip it on. The intro began with screaming women, flat on their backs, legs up, crying and saying "I cant do this." I turned it off. Went to Cold Case Files on A&E instead. From life to death. But at least in this, I know what I'm going to see before I see it.

One of the first things that we discussed in our classes were advantageous labor positions. I've witnessed births live and on video, as well as being there. And at no time were positive, natural labors done laying flat on their backs with legs in stirrups. (Not that you cant labor this way naturally. I'm sure plenty of people do it successfully.) But anyone who has taken a class knows that it compresses the birth canal and makes the baby's descent more difficult. Yes, it's more convenient for the doctor. But who is really delivering the baby? The mother! Shouldnt the question be "What is more convenient for the mother?"?

I realize that I am blessed with an "enlightened" OB who has no issue with birthing in odd (read: comfortable) positions and who told me with Nick and Sophie that he'd sit on the floor if that is what got us through it. From what I've heard from friends who have birthed in a hospital (which isnt my first choice but at this point I'm too high risk for a home birth and I adore Dr. Bailey and can't imagine not working with him at this point), most docs are not like Dr. B. One friend told me that her doctor said "We'll be doing a C-section at 36w. Schedule it on your way out." No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Why? "Well, they'll be okay. 36w is just about full term for twins anyway." (Dr. Bailey's comment was that, if an amnio showed lung development, he has no issue taking the stitch out and letting labor start at 36w, but his ideal for twins is 38w, when most research shows complete lung development. If the amnio doesnt come back the way he'd like to see, then the stitch wont come out until 37w, with the hope that I wont go into labor right away.) Another friend, pregnant with a single, was told by her doctor, "Everyone gets an epidural, even the so-called natural people, so go ahead and sign the form when you are admitted." When pushed as to whether he would do a natural birth, he said, outright, no. His births are epi's and forceps or vacuum births. That's if you can avoid the much pushed for C-section. (By contrast, Dr. B. brought up a C-section once with Alexander, because he was implanted low and said that, if the previa continued, it was not safe to labor vaginally, which is supported with studies and evidence. He brought up once this pregnancy in the context of "if you want to keep the stitch for a subsequent pregnancy, it would hold up, but you would have to have a C-section." No pushing. No "do this". Nothing.)

Am I the only one this pisses off? While I'm not one to pre-plan a medicated birth, I have plenty of pals who have no desire to labor naturally, and that is fine. If that is their birth dream, then so be it, and with my blessing. But why does it seem like people are pushed in that direction? Yes, C-sections are more lucrative. And drugs could mean a longer hospital stay in addition to the pharmacy billing. But is that really where we are? That we moved from birth being a rite of passage, a true gift from God, a moment of bonding with your child to being a mere medical procedure? It makes me sad... Women should have choices. The choices to choose drug-free or medicated births. A choice that isn't influenced by their doctor's desire to control the labor process. The choice to labor naturally, no matter how long it takes or hurts, without the fear of being forced to have drugs or a C-section when the baby is absolutely fine. A choice that isn't influenced by the convenience of the medical staff. Where are those choices?

I have a big mouth (I know- you are all shocked) and dont have an issue standing up for what I think (and letting everyone else know, too...) Peter is strong willed (could read: hard headed) and I've never known him to be walked all over. We are both intelligent people. Neither of us would put our children at risk and, God knows, if there was a problem and we needed drugs and a C-section, I'd be the first to say "wheel me in". We trust our doctor, who has never once failed to give us two sides to every story and asked what we thought, before giving us his opinion. A doctor who has followed our wishes, even when he thought that they were least likely scenario. And never once said "but I'm busy. Just induce. It's not like your baby will live anyway." Most people, I think, can make themselves informed when it comes to labor and delivery, yet many women I've talked to, who were unhappy with their births, talk about how their doctors talked down to them, made them feel inferior, and ultimately behaved as though they didnt have a choice. It's not fair! It's not right!

Okay... I'm on my soap box. I'd better get off of it. I dont want to trip and fall, or worse yet, work my blood pressure up before my doctor's appointment.

DISCLAIMER: Whether you've chosen to medicate or not, your decision is yours and I think we all have to make the choices that make the most sense for us in our situations. Don't let my rant offend you if you chose medicated births; I dont think you are a bad person. The opinions I have on natural birth are those Peter and I have come to. But everyone is entitled to their own opinion and feelings, and to do what is best for their family.

Partial Results

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

8 comments
This morning at 8:30, the phone rang and the caller ID showed the hospital lab. "This is X, calling on behalf of you doctor with good news about your first sequential screen results." And I let out the breath that I didn't know I was holding, Or risk of Downs Syndrome is 1 in 7200 (average us 1 in 800, with the cutoff for normal at 1 in 250). Great news. The bad news: they can only get risks for Trisomy 18 with singletons. So, no risk there. She said we could always have an amnio to find out, but neither of us are willing to risk a miscarriage to know. It's not a factor for us.

We havent gotten the u/s review results from the perinatologist yet and we are due back in a few weeks for the second part of the testing, which gives the results for spina bifida.

Yesterday, Peter's aunt came for a very nice visit and brought lunch. It was very pleasant and the tea sandwiches, quiche, and scones she brought were awesome! Then, some friends from church brought dinner. Very yummy! This is on top of church friends bringing homemade french bread on Monday night and a visit last week by friends with homemade banana bread! We are really blessed and so appreciative.

Tomorrow we see Dr. Bailey. I cant wait to see the babies again and to find out how the stitch has healed and is holding up. We will also find out how often we will see Dr. B. from now on. every 2w? 3w? 4w? I feel like the farther out he wants to see us, I should feel relieved but I think I'll feel like a nutcase and worry each day in-between appointments!

Friday is my dad's birthday. He's going to spend the afternoon and we'll have dinner together. Then, my birthday is Sunday. Last year, I just wanted to be left alone. Honestly, as it gets closer, I still feel that way. I dont know what we'll do. We shall see... Right now, I just want to focus on tomorrow's appointment and imagine seeing the babies again!

Happy 16m birthday, Nicholas

Monday, June 1, 2009

6 comments
Iwill save my musings for your journal, dearest son, and suffice it to say to the rest of the world... "Happy Birthday, Nicholas", on the memory of sixteen months since your beautiful, sacred birth. I love you.