Yesterday

Yesterday sucked.  No other way to put it.

I was actually in okay spirits at the start of the day, but as it went on, the displaced feeling started setting in again.  It’s something I try to avoid thinking about and, subsequently, feeling too much, even though I think it’s always kind of there in the back of my mind, but yesterday there was no getting away from the feeling that I am not where I’m supposed to be, that I might have been able to change things if some things had occurred differently (those ever-persistent ‘what-if’s), and that I would be somewhere else, doing something else, if October 19th of 2014 had gone differently… if I’d seen a different medical professional, or if I’d asked for a second opinion, or gone to a different clinic.

DifferentThat word came to mind a lot.  I hesitate to say better or worse, because I don’t know where I would be if Brock were here, and I don’t know for sure if that reality would be better or worse than this one. I just know it’d be really different from where I am now, whether or not that’s a good or bad thing.

I know I’d be raising a different baby, one that would be celebrating his first birthday instead of being a mere 15 days old, and that Nathan would certainly not be here.

I wouldn’t have had a bunch of milk with no baby to appreciate it if Brock hadn’t passed, so I never would have been a milk bank donor.  Did my donations help any babies pull through who might not have otherwise?

I don’t think I would have felt the same frantic emptiness and need to better myself if I hadn’t lost Brock, so I probably wouldn’t have gone to finish high school (I formally graduate on the 12th of November), or found the time and money to finally go to driving school and earn my G2.  I wouldn’t have started volunteering for a local blood donor clinic, and my husband likely never would have begun donating regularly, either.  I wonder whose lives his donations have touched, too.

I would never have gone to loss support groups or struck up conversations with other loss mothers and fathers on online forums, and therefore there are a lot of great people I know now that I never would have met.

There are so many other little things, too.  I wouldn’t live where I live, or have a lot of the things that I now have, probably.  I envisioned a different baby, a different nursery, a different life.  On days like yesterday, it just hits me again, all over, that this was not what I envisioned at all.  It makes me wonder if there was ever anything I could have done to change the outcome, and it makes me feel woefully out of control of my own fate (which, to be fair, I know that I am – but the illusion of power is totally gone, which leaves me feeling awfully vulnerable.)

My husband and I took the day to just feel bad for ourselves.  We cried, we talked it out, we snuggled Nathan a little bit more earnestly, we got expensive takeout for dinner, and I had a couple of glasses of wine for the first time in 10 months (another advantage of pumping – if you get ahead, you can take a little time off.  Score!).

The other thing about the day that really upset me was that a lot of people didn’t even seem to notice that it was Brock’s birthday.  I received condolences and well-wishes from a few friends, acquaintances and family members, but I heard nothing from most people… and, in particular, a few I really expected would have reached out said nothing.  I’m pretty sure even most of my close relatives (my mom and dad, and in-laws) didn’t even notice the date; it was just another day for them.  It wounds me to think that he could be so easily forgotten by most people when he’s almost all that I think about on many days.  Perhaps it’s my fault for letting him be forgotten, I guess?  I don’t really know how else to look at it.  Maybe I should have made a huge deal out of his first birthday and thrown a big party or something, but I let the opportunity evade me, so now I’ve just got more what-ifs to think about.  Hooray.

Happy birthday, Brock.  I can at least promise you that your father and I will never forget you. ❤

The Latest / Old Habits Die Hard

Okay, I’m going to knock on wood as soon as I say this (please do the same for me!), but I think I might have the easiest newborn on the planet.  When I referenced him being fussy and difficult in my last post, it turns out that it was literally just some kind of stomach upset that was making him so hard to handle.  He was up half the night screaming from gas pains, but as it turns out, that’s not his norm.  As soon as that passed about 24 hours later, he went back to being almost exclusively sleepy and happy no less than 90% of the time.  I am not sure what got to him on that particular day (could have been germs he picked up at one of our two Thanksgiving dinners, or a bad reaction to the formula we had to supplement with for the first couple of days) but he’s been really great ever since.  He’s even stopped being fussy about being held/touched constantly and will sleep through the night in his crib without complaint with 3-4 wakes for feedings.  I honestly feel so blessed; I almost feel like he knows that I need him to be easy for my sanity’s sake because I have so much emotional baggage, especially with Brock’s birthday coming up on Friday.  I really feel we’re finding a rhythm and I am so grateful for it, even though I realize it might change at any time… for now, it’s great.

20151012_135746 20151015_163342 20151020_132007—–

One decision I’ve made that has caused mild to moderate controversy is the decision I made, after a week or so of trying, to give up on attempts to breastfeed and instead transition to exclusively pumping.  I have several reasons for it that I think are perfectly valid, but none of them seem to be good enough for most people.

Our issues began on day one before he was even born, unbeknownst to me at the time: because I ended up delivering him sunny side up and a vacuum was used, his head really hurt for the first couple days of his life (go figure).  It makes it hard to encourage a good latch when you can’t touch your baby’s head at all lest they start screaming bloody murder.  He was too distracted by the pain to be able to focus on trying to eat, and every attempt to get him to ended in both of us crying tears of pain and frustration.  When I was dispatched the day after his delivery, I was sent home with very little information on what I was doing after only one sort of successful latch – he tried to eat, which was the goal, but my milk wasn’t in yet and it was extremely painful for me. He has a high palate and a slight tongue tie, which, in combination with the vacuum aftershock and some significant lethargy because of slight jaundice, didn’t really instill faith out of the starting gate, but I tried to remain optimistic.

I resolved to keep working on it at home, but we continued to have issues.  His hunger finally kicked in shortly after we got home from the hospital, and, since my milk wasn’t in and we couldn’t get him to latch, we had to supplement the first couple of days with formula while I kept trying to get him to latch and pumped to stimulate my supply.  The couple of times where I got him to latch on my own still ended badly because he was still so groggy and lazy (and, perhaps, already spoiled by the bottle at this point) that he got mad when the milk didn’t immediately flow freely – he was not interested in working for it – so he’d give up and start crying again in a big hurry.  Around this point, I was pumping enough to feed him and get off of the formula, but pumping for 30 minutes every 3 hours with a single manual breastpump was getting tedious, and picking up an electric pump was getting more and more tantalizing.  I decided to grab one on Saturday night, figuring that it would at least come in handy for occasional bottle feeds in the future.  I still kept trying to get him to latch once in a while, but admittedly probably not as often as I should have; the stress bothered both of us immensely, so I usually just went for the bottle because it saved us a lot of heartache.

On Sunday afternoon, we met with a pediatrician to double-check his bilirubin levels, weigh him, and discuss our other questions and concerns.  At this point, I met with a really fabulous nurse who asked about his eating habits.  I explained that I wasn’t having luck with breastfeeding and I didn’t feel I’d been given enough information to be successful at it, and she spent a good 45 minutes helping us work on our latch and explaining what I could do to have more success.  She empathized with the lack of information that new moms often get about breastfeeding, and how, a few decades ago, women would stay in the hospital for a full week after delivery and get much more direct, hands-on help from the staff to make sure they were well-equipped to deal with new parenthood.  She also said that one of the few benefits that she had observed as a NICU nurse was that there was no shortage of time for the mothers of NICU babies to get professional, hands-on help with breastfeeding; there was always someone available to help them out if they were having issues while they were there.  She ended our short little class (the only time where I managed to get him to successfully latch and eat [a little] at my breast) by explaining that she didn’t mind what path I chose, and that they were all perfectly valid, as long as I felt I had the ability and knowledge to choose for myself rather than feeling like I was forced into one, or that I had ‘failed’ at breastfeeding.

I appreciated all her help immensely, and it got me to start thinking seriously about what it was that I actually wanted to do.  Did I want to breastfeed, or did I want to bottle feed?  Either way, I knew I wanted him to get milk, and both methods have their benefits.  Bottle feeding would give me the freedom to share feeds with others and not be tied to our son 24/7, whereas breastfeeding was ‘natural’ and would, presumably, strengthen our bond.  We kept trying to get a latch over the next few days, but it continued to be really hard for us to figure out , especially while I was so sleep deprived.  When you’re exhausted after 2 hours of sleep and you wake up to the cries of a hungry baby, it’s hard to not want to just go to the fridge and grab a prepared bottle when you’re still trying to figure out the logistics of breastfeeding and it’s a complicated science to both of you (especially because, if I waited until he cried of hunger, he lacked the patience to give latching any real effort).

By day 7 of his life, my husband confided that he loved the system we had worked out – not only could he share the bonding time by taking some feeds, but I was less stressed when I wasn’t trying to fight with breastfeeding, Nate seemed to prefer cold milk anyway, and I was functioning better with the freedom to step out for an hour or two here and there – and we made the mutual decision to stop trying to force it.  I might still give it the occasional attempt over the next few months, and, who knows, maybe it will eventually ‘click’ for us… however, in the meantime, I’m happy with the system we have going.  I’m currently a little bit concerned about my supply (I’m only about 50 oz ahead, which is maybe a day and a half of food) but I’m really working hard to improve it, and even if I find I need to start supplementing somewhere along the way, some is better than nothing, right?  This is the best solution I can come up with for now, and it’s what works for us, so I am trying to hold my head high and be proud even when others seem to think I should feel shame.  I think the best response I’ve got so far, from people who seem to think it’s their business, is ‘at least he’s getting breastmilk’.  Ah, so judgemental.

Anyway, that’s enough out of me for now.  I’m sure I’ll be back to post on Friday, which will be a doozy of a day.

Baby Nathan is Here

Please forgive any incoherence and poor sentence structure – I’m terribly sleep deprived, and while coffee can keep me from nodding off (for the most part), it can’t make me function at full capacity.  Life with a newborn is hard. 😉

Sorry for the cliffhanger on that one – I am sure that a few of you have been itching for an update.  Unfortunately, I like to blog when I have time to myself, which means limited distractions and no husband (or anyone else) around, and when I feel I am in good head space and can feel confident I will have a reasonable amount of uninterrupted time to write.  One of those still isn’t satisfied at the moment (I have a sleeping baby in my lap because he won’t let me put him down), but I feel the need to at least chronicle a few of my thoughts and feelings about what’s happened in the last week, and to update those of you who were following.

My induction didn’t end up getting moved to directly after my appointment on the 6th… instead, it got moved to the 7th.  The results of my last ultrasound remained consistently bad and my OB decided she would rather have him out than in.  Since she was going to be on call the following day for the whole day (a 24 hour shift… how terrifying!), she decided she would make sure to get me admitted and have him that day so that she could oversee his birth.

We arrived at the hospital for a pre-admission NST at 9am on the 7th, but there weren’t any L&D rooms available until quite a bit later.  It took until almost 6pm for them to find me a room, and we didn’t start the induction (beginning with breaking my water) until 7pm.  A little over 12 hours later, after a fairly uneventful but somewhat stressful labour (including a suggestion of a c-section around 5am when he wouldn’t properly descend because he was positioned sideways), I did manage a vaginal birth with the assistance of a vacuum, and Nathan George was born at 7:42am on October 8th.  At 38 weeks’ gestation, he was 8lbs 3oz, and 20.5 inches long.  I guess they were on to something with all of the speculation that he was on the larger side; he would have likely crested 10lbs if I’d carried him to term.

I might write more about the delivery at a later date, but right now, only two things really stand out to me: one was when my husband and I simultaneously started bawling the second he began screaming – something I suspected would happen from the very beginning – and my OB having to eventually tell me that I needed to stop crying long enough to deliver my placenta.  Ah, the joys of delivering a live baby after a stillbirth…

He and I are both doing really well health-wise (I somehow didn’t tear, and I bounced back from delivery in astonishingly good time) and he presently seems to be completely healthy, despite the whole fiasco with his kidneys in utero.  He’s on an antibiotic to make sure that an infection doesn’t develop and has a follow-up ultrasound on Friday to check on the condition, but right now it seems as though he will be perfectly fine and complication-free.

Nate—–

I’m not going to lie, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to have a baby physically or emotionally, but I didn’t prepare myself for this level of involvement, especially from a being that is supposed to sleep for 20 hours a day.  It’s been really hard, and I am having a hard time finding any kind of rhythm… many, many tears have been shed by both my husband and I over the various complications of life with a newborn.  The first couple of days were actually surprisingly easy, but it has been a bit of a downhill slide from there, as he’s now in a state where he basically refuses to be put down for more than 10 or 20 minutes at a time.  This means constant shift swapping, having to schedule and co-ordinate each and every little thing (finding opportunities to pee, figuring out who makes meals, etc.) and a lot of time wasted sitting around and doing nothing.  He seems to have picked up a bit of a stomach bug somewhere along the way, which has given him serious gas and diarrhea and only adds to his fussiness.  I’m glad that I’ve finally realized that he sleeps more soundly if he’s being touched, but again, it leaves me pretty tied down and makes it really hard to get anything done when I’m on shift, aside from mindlessly surfing the internet and trying not to fall asleep in my chair.  Thank goodness I at least have my husband for respite for the time being… I’m already terrified of what will happen when he goes back to work on Monday.

I realize this post has been scatterbrained and really hasn’t touched on anything of substance, but I’m incredibly tired now and finding it hard to form even relatively coherent thoughts, so I’m going to leave it here for now.  I will try to find time to update and add more in the near future.

Five Days (or one)

It’s crazy to think that, good outcome or bad, this pregnancy will be over in no more than 5 days.  By the end of the week, I’ll be done being pregnant (again) for the foreseeable future.  Some women say that they dread the last days of pregnancy because they don’t know when, or if, they will get the opportunity to do it again… not me, nosiree.  Especially with the emotional stress of pregnancy after a full-term stillbirth, I cannot wait to have a break from carrying babies.  I had a dream where I went for a nice, brisk fall run, and even in the dream I was just so darn happy about the freedom that dream-me wept a little.

I had a pretty great weekend, not going to lie.  I decided to treat it as a last hurrah of sorts, and spent it shopping and hanging out with several people who are near and dear to me.  I even went to the movies two days in a row (after not going once for… at least 8 months?) and a friend and I did a miniature maternity photo shoot, which was awesome to get done.  The caveat, of course, was that my husband wasn’t able to make it, and it strikes me as a little odd that it’s a bunch of photos of just me… also, I felt some strange guilt at getting maternity photos this time when I never did any with Brock, but there’s really no getting around that.

On Sunday, I had my scheduled NST at the hospital in my hometown.  It was a bit triggering, to be sure, since it was the same hospital that Brock was delivered at, and the same room where we had Brock’s last (live) NST (and then, two days later, found out he had passed).  There was a particular cubby that I was worried about being put in because it was where both of those things happened, and where we were put when we had to call our families to break the news while we waited for a room.  Fortunately, we were put in a different bed this time, which made things slightly more bearable.  It still wasn’t pleasant to be back there.

Mercifully, the NST went very well.  Nathan was very active throughout with a good, stable heartbeat and no decelerations.  In 45 minutes, there were no incidents and very typical coverage – and, this time, we had the results reviewed and signed off on by a doctor, no second guessing here.  The only surprise we had throughout the scan was when, at one point, the nurse who was looking after me informed me that I was having quite a few Braxton Hicks.  I have very rarely ever noticed any contractions at all, but the monitor was picking them up once every 10 minutes or so, lasting 45 seconds to a minute each.  I spent the rest of the time trying to pay more attention to what my body was doing and realized that I have been mistaking BH contractions for baby movements – usually, I’d just mistaken them for him stretching or moving slightly and pushing against my belly when, in reality, it’s the opposite (my belly shrinking and contracting around him).  It was also easier to notice them on the monitor because his heartrate would typically accelerate a little whenever I had one.  I’ve become more aware of them since and continued to have quite a few last night… though I’m pretty sure they’re not doing much of anything, so I’m not too worried about it (not to mention that, with an induction date looming, it would actually be ideal if they were doing something).

Anyway, now I’m just counting down the hours until my next OB appointment, which might very well be my last.  If things don’t go well, I might be admitted that day.  If things do go well, my appointment on Friday might be cancelled, which would just leave us needing to go in for our induction on Saturday morning.  Either way, we’re very much in the home stretch, and I should probably be working to finish setting up the nursery instead of writing!  I could write so much about how nervous/anxious I am that I will be admitted tomorrow to have my baby, and how I feel completely unprepared for how inevitably emotional this will be, but neither of us has time for that. 😉  If all goes well tomorrow and I get sent back home, I’m sure I’ll find time to ramble about it between then and Saturday.

Happy October… 9 Days (Maybe), Complications, and Other Musings

Happy October, everyone.  Can’t believe it’s come around to this time of year again already.  October is always one of the busiest months in my life, even under normal circumstances (tons of birthdays, Thanksgiving, and Halloween) and it’s going to be even more turbulent this year.  Brock would be turning one a few days after Nathan’s expected arrival, and I really have no idea how that’s going to sit, emotionally or otherwise.  I suppose I’ll have to cross that bridge when I get to it, though.  Trying to predict how it will go now would just turn out to be wasted effort, I’m sure.

Our induction to meet Nathan is scheduled for October 10th presently, which means I’ve only got 9 more days to get ready (at most).  I am term today, so really, it’s anyone’s guess what happens from here.  I’m not really expecting anything to happen on its own because of how Brock’s delivery went – even being induced at 40+5, it was really hard to get him out, my body just seems to hold onto babies a bit TOO tightly – but I’m also not willing to rule it out.  I am dealing with some pretty significant pressure and aching in my pelvis that I don’t remember getting with Brock, which makes me feel like things might be moving in the right direction on their own a bit quicker this time.  Honestly, I really hope that this is the case for several reasons.

I wish I could say that things were going smoothly in general, but they’re really not.  I was reasonably calm and collected until this morning, when I received a call from my obstetrician’s nurse about my appointment yesterday.  The ultrasound had some unusual results, but nothing that I thought were jarring red flags; for example, this sonographer seemed to think that he was in the 85th percentile for weight (where the one who had scanned me only 5 days prior said he was 60th), and this one also measured almost 15mm more amniotic fluid than the previous one did, which puts me back into pretty severe polyhydramnios territory.  I had dismissed it, finding the results being that different only a few days apart very strange, but chalking it up to a margin of error on one tech or the other’s behalf.

Anyway, my OB had a look at the results today and did not like them in the least.  They are radically different in bad ways, and she is less passive about that than I am.  Not only do they want me to go and have an NST over the weekend (which, at least, I can do at the hospital in town), but they are also calling me in for yet another ultrasound next Tuesday.  Oh, joy… more trips to Toronto… more missed hours at work for my husband… and, best of all, more worry.  As someone who’s had a previous stillbirth, telling me that I had suboptimal results on something is a surefire way to make me freak out.  It’s weighing really heavily on my mind, and I don’t know how I’m going to make it to the end at this point without freaking out.  I keep trying to will my body to get things started on its own… if my water broke right now, it would actually be a mercy, even though my apartment is a war zone and I haven’t even finished painting the nursery yet.

I keep trying to tell myself that it’s only 9 more days at most, and things could start happening at any time, that the odds of something going wrong again are really slim… and that this should be enough to placate me, but my husband and I are just so collectively scared and stressed out that I can’t reason with myself.  Heck, I have humoured the idea that the kidney problems that they’re claiming now require additional attention are actually a front for a secondary issue, like that he’s managed to get tangled in his cord the way his big brother did, and they’re just not willing to tell me that because then I’d really lose it.  I don’t know.  I can’t picture a happy outcome right now, and it’s terrifying me.  I just want him out and here, safe and sound.  I’m so done.