Happy Mother’s Day

I truly, sincerely apologize for my absence lately.  I guess I’ve been having a case of writer’s block, because I have tried to write several posts in the last few weeks and none of them seem to come out quite right so they never see the light of day.  I’m having a hard time putting my thoughts and feelings to words lately… and that, I think, is because they change so often.  One day I’ll be completely down in the dumps, the next I will be feeling much sunnier.  Some days I lament being pregnant again at all, and on others I can’t wait to meet my new child.  I am all over the place all of the time, and it’s exhausting to feel, let alone explain.  I think I wanted to wait for some consistency and stability to start writing regularly again, but honestly, at this point, if I do that it seems like I might never post again.

Anyway, it’s Mother’s Day.  I have dreaded this day for weeks, and now that it’s here, I’m surprisingly much more at ease than I expected.  Lots of awesome things are already in the works for me, and it’s not even noon yet, so I’m feeling pretty good, all things considered.  My husband works, but gave me a beautiful family ring and plans to make us a wonderful dinner tonight, and my brother is taking me out for lunch and a mani/pedi.  I have had several other friends and family members wish me a happy mother’s day as well, which brings me peace if only because it reminds me that they haven’t forgotten Brock.  Telling me that they know I am a mother is also acknowledgement that he was here, even if only briefly, and I love them for that.  Thank you all; it means more to me than you know.

Family RingMy beautiful family ring with our birthstones in it – me on the left (aquamarine), Brock in the middle (tourmaline), and my husband on the right (tanzanite).  There’s two diamond placeholders on the sides for our future children.  “What if we have more than two?”  I asked.  “Then you’ll have earned a new ring,” he replied.  What a cutie.

Additionally, my day was made when I realized that Pregnancy After Loss Support featured my Courageous Mama story on their blog – on today, of all days!  How marvelous.  They run these story submission sections annually around Mother’s Day and I was honoured to find that they enjoyed mine enough to publish it.  You can read my story about losing my son, the aftermath, and my philosophy with my rainbow pregnancy here.  It’s hard to keep true to the principles I talk about in my article sometimes, but I do try very, very hard to stand by what I wrote.  I want to be the best mother possible to my new baby, and even though I am sure that it won’t always be easy to do so, they deserve as much, don’t they?

Anyway, that’s all from me for now.  I’ll be sure to post again a lot sooner this time – no more month long hiatuses from me, I promise!  I leave you all with an all-too-true poster I ran into today.  I wish all of you a wonderful Mother’s Day, even if you are struggling with infertility or loss like many of us have and will in years to come: you are all mothers in spirit, and just because some or all of your children can’t be seen doesn’t make you any less of a wonderful mother.

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Nesting After Infant Loss

Yesterday, my husband and I did something preposterously bold: we painted our future nursery.

Neither of us woke up yesterday with this in mind.  However, we both had the day off with few plans to fill it, and my husband brought it up as a logical idea for passing some of the time and getting ahead.  The to-be-nursery is presently mostly empty, but soon to be filled with boxes and bins seeking temporary storage, and he reasoned that it would be easier to do now, with nothing in it, than it would be later on.  We had the time, and a local home improvement store had a great deal on paint.  What did we have to lose?

So, we went out, bought paint, and painted.  I conceded only on the condition that we pick a colour that was relatively neutral so that, if it ended up not being needed as a nursery, it still wouldn’t scream ‘baby’.  Based on the theme we have been tossing around, he wanted blue, but I wanted grey; we eventually agreed on a slate grey that was blue enough to please him and grey enough to please me.  Everybody wins.

So, there you have it: at 10 weeks pregnant, I’ve already started nesting.  It’s a strange feeling, especially so early, but it’s what’s right for me, and that’s really all that I can act on.  I am brave enough to hope that I get to bring this baby home to this room, and, in truth, it’s only fair to him or her that I acknowledge and honour this hope – they deserve it.  It wouldn’t be fair to let my fear of loss interfere with how well I get set up for this new baby.  Also, I think Brock would like it better this way, too.  He’d want us look to the future with hope, not dwell on the past.  He would want us to make sure that his kid brother or sister was happily and fully received, just the way we had planned for him.

 

I read an article recently about this subject – nesting after loss, and all the fear and mixed feelings that comes with it.  I am sure that, as I get further into it and put more and more effort into it, I’m just going to get more and more anxious that I will be doing all of this work again for nothing, and it’ll end in me needing to pack up a bunch of baby clothes and toys all over again.  It’s a lot more fun (and healthier), however, to hope for the best, and it’s what is fair to your future child.  Read the article I’m talking about here.

 

Differences/Article Roundup

With my last pregnancy, I was extremely lucky to avoid morning sickness almost entirely.  I combated with nausea and vomiting for all of two, maybe three, weeks; it started around week 6 1/2 and was gone completely by week 9.  I only threw up twice, and both times the cause was clearly traced back to my prenatal vitamin, which I promptly changed when I realized it was making the issue worse.

This time around, my symptoms came in a lot slower, and it was one of many things that worried me in my first couple weeks of pregnancy.  I finally began a long fight with nausea, vomiting, and other stomach grievances about a week ago; I’m still managing a lot better than most women do, and I am fully aware of (and appreciate) this, but I am definitely not feeling too great the last few days, and this is the main reason why I haven’t been writing as much as I normally might be.

With that said, I’m actually really happy that I feel awful.  All the gassiness, indigestion, nausea and the complete lack of energy are reassuring to me – they tell me that things are, probably, going well.  I’m trying to resolve to enjoy every little thing along the way this time – good, bad, or anywhere in between.  Our future baby deserves that.

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On that note, I have read quite a few good articles in the last week or so that touch on a lot of important topics regarding child loss. The one that I think was the most interesting was this one, which is about a young woman who grew up in the wake of a dead sibling.  It talks about a lot of unique things you might not consider in that kind of situation, like the fact that they will also move forward with their lives wondering what could have been if their sibling(s) before them were also around.  It’s very interesting to see it from another perspective.

Another one is a great catch-all about things that friends and family can do to help their bereaved friends survive a loss.  It has a lot of valuable information and good suggestions, and is quite eloquently worded: you can read it here.  I posted this on my Facebook page as a hint to my friends and family.  I know one person who definitely ‘got’ it, but am not too sure if it worked on anyone else.

This one really spoke to me because it talks about medical professionals making a grievous error because they didn’t trust this poor mother’s word.  She lost her twins to premature labour – while in a hospital, on bed rest – because a faulty machine would not pick up her contractions and, since the machine said everything was fine, they didn’t believe her when she said she was in extreme pain.  It brought me right back to the 19th of October, with my midwife looking at an NST strip, saying “Nothing about this concerns me” and pointing to instances on the tape where Brock had ‘moved’ (in all likelihood, those ticks in the tape were times where the monitor had slipped off my belly, or I’d been moved into a different position to try and get better results).  This article advocates for practitioners to have more faith in their patients and trust a mother’s intuition instead of just taking a test at face value, and about how a doctor’s personal beliefs or preferences can severely impact whether or not someone has a positive outcome in a pregnancy.  These are things that truly need more attention, and she is right to try to bring attention to it.  The circumstances surrounding her loss are simply heartbreaking:

I was already in the high-risk pregnancy ward at a highly rated hospital. I didn’t have any distance to drive, nor traffic to sit in that delayed my treatment. Instead, a machine was believed over the patient.

At the moment, I’m pretty much just trying to get by on a day-to-day basis, humouring a couple of possible future projects, and trying to make some important decisions.  My personal life has been pretty hectic and that, combined with my sickness, is keeping me busy.  On a lot of days, I actually feel somewhat like a normal person, and I have conflicting feelings about that.  I’ll make sure to mention it when I have decided exactly how I feel about it, whenever that happens to be.

I am a Mom/A Worthy Cause

I was looking through my Facebook feed when I stumbled across a very beautiful, eloquently written article about pregnancy after loss.  PALS is a website that is designed for those of us in that terrible little niche market (expecting after a loss), and I have been reading several of their articles and have followed them on Facebook to try and find some peace of mind with my situation.  This story, in particular, really spoke to me and resonates with a lot of my ideals; it’s posted here.

Especially when you lose your first, you tend to struggle with knowing how to handle your situation.  Trying to know how to answer questions like “Do you have any kids?” is a tricky endeavour.  I’m sure I’m not going to know how to answer when people start asking me “Is this your first?” all over again; I try not to hide Brock, but it’s also not a discussion that you want to get into with just anyone.  For example, with a hairdresser, I might just want to say “Yes”, because it would probably take all the wind out of their sails for the rest of the session if I started telling them all about my dead baby.

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Some of you may or may not have heard a recent story about a mother named April McLean.  I believe this circulated more around the bereaved parenting community, but it went pretty viral for a little while there.  April gave birth to a critically ill child and called on Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a nonprofit organization that takes professional photos of children too ill to survive for their parents to have as keepsakes, to take photos of her and her partner with their baby.  Tragically, the photographer’s car was broken into while the camera was still in there, and the whole lot – priceless photos and all – was stolen.

There is good news, though!  The family and photographer made a public appeal to have the memory card sent back, and it was returned (sans the rest of her equipment, of course).  In the wake of this, a crowdsourced fundraiser has been set up to help replace the photographer’s equipment.  If you can spare a couple of dollars, consider helping the cause out here.

Those That Know and Those That Don’t

I had a very insightful post shared with me yesterday that perfectly embodied a lot of thoughts I have had but haven’t been able to put into words.  Read it here.

I struggled with this dilemma a few days ago.  My husband and I recently reconnected with a mutual friend who we hadn’t spoken to in a while – so long, in fact, that he didn’t know I had been pregnant at all, let alone everything that had happened since.  We were uncertain about whether or not the news had reached him until he said a few particularly crass things – in jest, as that was the way he approached humour.  Still, it became apparent to me that he didn’t realize what had happened when he told me, jokingly, to ‘get my shit together’ – that is not something that you say to a bereaved parent, under any circumstances.

My husband and I deliberated whether or not we should tell him about Brock.  On one hand, it was really refreshing to have someone in our lives who didn’t know.  Sometimes, you need someone who will just talk to you casually, and his demeanour was a refreshing return to a more normal way of life.  I find that almost everyone who knows, even now, still has no idea how to treat me.  Perhaps, more painfully, I find that a lot of people are outright avoiding speaking to me; it’s not up to me to speculate as to why, and I do not blame them, but (as I’ve previously mentioned) I would really love to just be treated like a normal person once in a while.  At the same time, we realized that it might be insulting to not tell him, and that he might later feel guilty about his conduct around us.

In the end, we decided to tell him, but also made it apparent that we hoped he wouldn’t let it affect his behaviour around us and requested that he make an effort to continue treating us normally.  He was our only bit of normalcy in a giant sea of pity and awkwardness, and we cherished that, so it was hard to jeopardize that relationship by informing him.  I do feel like he might be censoring himself somewhat now, and I mourn the fact that he’ll never be in the ‘don’t know’ category again, but at least I feel morally balanced.