Somewhat Damaged

Things got out of control so fast.

His work partner, who originally sent along the request to check on him, decided to drive over before he even heard anything back.  He arrived about 20 minutes after the police did, and then sat with me for the additional 20 mintues that followed before my husband arrived home.  His mother, and my father-in-law’s ex-wife, was about half an hour behind that.  By noon, the house was packed with a mix of his friends and family, and by 4pm, we’d started talking about the things we would inevitably need to figure out;  little more than 6 hours after he’d been found, half a dozen of us had already started tearing the house apart in search of important paperwork and belongings that would help us deal with the aftermath, like his will.

We drank heavily that night, because of course we did.  I cried on and off, but chalked it up to everything being so fresh and so jarring.  I didn’t think anything of it originally when sleep was hard to come by, even when I was dead tired, or of the fact that the scene just seemed to keep playing on repeat in my mind.  Grief was old hat to me, and I figured this was all part of the process.  It felt similar to what I went through with Brock.

However, over the next few days, things only got worse.  Crying increased, and I began to have more and more trouble staying even relatively stable.  The little sleep I was getting dwindled to almost nothing because I couldn’t seem to pass out unless I was too tired to function or considerably inebriated (or both)… and, when I did, I would wake up again a short while later and not be able to get back there.  I was also completely unable to handle being alone, even for small periods of time, and kept forcing my husband to stay with me until I was able to nod off as a result.  I started to feel that I was losing my grip on things.  I holed up in our apartment and avoided interacting with people because I didn’t want to admit that I was feeling troubled because I thought it was embarrassing.  I felt that, if I gave them distance, maybe they wouldn’t notice that I was falling apart at the seams.

By Friday, I had to come to terms with the fact that something was seriously wrong.  I kept almost dissolving into tears for absolutely no reason, no matter where I was and what I was doing, and I very nearly had a complete meltdown at Walmart.  Memories from Monday morning struck me so suddenly and vividly that I began to hyperventilate, and it took me nearly 5 minutes to regather my composure and keep going – and, even then, I was still shaky and anxious.  I ended up leaving the store in such a hurry that I forgot what I had gone there for in the first place.

Even then, I didn’t want to bring it up.  I was ashamed and embarrassed by how poorly I was coping, especially since it wasn’t really my loss to begin with.  I didn’t want to make things about me when it didn’t have much of anything to do with me.  I grew progressively frustrated with myself for letting my emotions mess with me when, logically, I could tell myself it really wasn’t a huge deal, but mentally I couldn’t come to terms with it.  Trying to convince myself that it wasn’t something that should have traumatized me just further stressed me out because, here it was, basically ruining my life anyway.  It seemed crazy to me that I had carried my first son for nine months, only to lose him when I was almost 41 weeks pregnant, went through an awful 3-day induction, and delivered him silently — and come out of that okay — but finding my father-in-law, having died peacefully in his sleep after 55 long, eventful years of life completely wrecked me.  I still wondered if it was just too fresh to come to terms with properly, or if I’d just run out of strength, and this just happened to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.  All I knew, in either case, was that I was all but despondent.

I resolved to give myself a few more days to figure things out, which was a bad idea, and I knew it.  As I have struggled with depression in the past, I know how it works when you should go to seek help with mental health issues: on the bad days, you wonder, “Why would I bother getting help?” and throw up excuses to let yourself stay miserable, and on the good ones, you feel that this might be a turning point where things will start to get better, so you put it off so you don’t have to go through all the trouble and/or admit that you need help.  Fortunately, my husband and mother-in-law – who had both noticed that I was not handling things well at all – had other plans.  On Sunday morning, he woke me to tell me that we were going to drop Nathan off at my mother-in-law’s for a few hours, and then we were going to go and see my doctor to talk about what I was going through.

We did exactly that.  We talked through what had happened over the last few days, about losing Brock, and about how I was handling things with Nathan.  I confided to her that we are not bonding terribly well, for some reason or another; so far, caring for him has been more stressful than gratifying, and I explained that, while I love him, I don’t like him (it’s the best way I could come up with to embody my feelings about him most of the time).  I left with a prescription for antidepressants, the number for a public health nurse, and the reassurance that I would be referred to counseling or psychiatric services as soon as she could find a connection.

So there we have it… apparently, I’m crazy now.  I wonder if I have been like this for a long time and not known it, or if I just snapped somewhere recently.  I even catch my husband treating me like I’m compromised sometimes, asking if I remembered to take my pills and coddling me in silly ways.  I would be more upset, I think, but, you know, antidepressants.  It’s only been three days and I already feel like I’ve lost the capacity for the crushing sadness I felt before – I still get sad, but not to the same degree.  I also don’t get as happy either, though… everything just feels muted.  It’s really strange.

Oh, and of course, I still don’t sleep well, and I still can’t stop thinking about the moment I found him.  Seems we still have a lot more work to do to fix me.

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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. ❤

Overwhelmed.

This has been an absolutely horrible day – one of the worst I can recall.  I have cried so much today that I actually ended up researching at one point if there is a point where we run out of tears because I’d cried for nearly a solid three out of four consecutive hours.  (Yes, you can… but if you do, it means you’re severely dehydrated; always drink lots of water after a big cry because your body takes water from other places to supply your tear ducts with moisture.  The more you know…)

I think I was feeling emotional from the start.  I’m not too sure why, but Brock wouldn’t leave my mind much at all today, and I found myself looking through his old photos – first ultrasound pictures, then bump pictures, then the photos the hospital took after his birth.  Cue weepy episode #1.

Next, after I’d had a good little cry about that (and, subsequently, thought I was feeling much better and could move on with my day), I was reminded that it was the birthday of a different (sadly deceased) child – the other woman I knew of in my due date club who’d had a loss celebrated her departed daughter’s first birthday today, and it obviously hit very close to home.  More tears!

I discovered the worst piece of news of all, though, almost immediately after that one… if you’ll recall the couple I talked about in my last update, whose son was battling for his life in the NICU: it was discovered on Thursday evening that he had a small hole in his bowel that required surgery.  While the surgery itself went very well and he tolerated it well to begin with, a post-operative infection set in, and it was more than his tiny body was equipped to handle.  He passed away earlier this morning.

I was totally despondent for a good two hours after that.  I had already endured one loss (which was how we met them, through a local bereavement group) and we had that much in common, but I couldn’t begin to fathom how it would feel to lose two babies, especially consecutively… and under such similar circumstances.  Both babies were lost to complications of being immature, one after living for 8 weeks and the second after only lasting 8 days… and, in both cases, it was the result of an infection.  I cried for them, for their son, for the unfairness of the universe… and then I cried some more as a result of my own anxiety, because if life can be so unfair as to let the same thing happen to them twice, what’s to say that I’m not going to find myself going home with empty arms again, too?  Then again, if we do get our rainbow, aren’t they just going to resent us for having our happy ending when they didn’t get theirs?  In their situation, I would, especially since they now face the very real possibility of not getting their baby, especially not without serious intervention since it’s now clear that she can’t presently carry a baby to term.  It was a lot to try to process, and my heart hurts so bad for them… I really can’t put my emotions into the right words.  I know I’m not putting the feelings to real justice in how I’m writing, but I can’t think of a better way to word them (I blame the headache that I’ve acquired from crying so much).

Nate has responded with quite a lot of movement – and I’ve also had a couple of Braxton Hicks, probably in relation to the stress – which should make me feel better, I suppose, but it’s not.  I’m just over everything today.  I want to go back to a point where life was easy and I didn’t understand what overwhelming grief was and how absolutely unfair things can be.  There’s a different, possibly shittier version of myself in a parallel universe who would see a post about an infant dying and think, “Oh, that’s really sad,” maybe feel a bit blue for a few minutes, give Brock a big hug (because in a perfect world, he’d be here), take a big swig of wine because I wouldn’t be pregnant, and then move on.  I’m not saying that would be the appropriate reaction, but I feel way too close to tragedy now.  Instead, hearing about others losing their children turns me into an inconsolable, weepy mess and gives me flashbacks to the moment where I found out that my own son had died.  Post-loss Sevyn may be more philanthropic and compassionate, sure, but she’s also world weary and just needs to know that, sooner than later, there’s going to be a break from all this tragedy and drama.  I feel like it’s been nothing but bad news as far back as I can remember… or maybe I’ve just lost my ability to appreciate or focus on the good, who knows?

Hopefully, by this time three weeks from now, I will have a healthy, screaming baby, and my faith in life will be somewhat restored.  In the meantime, there’s not much I can do except wait and hope that I’m right.

Where I’ve Been (a Very, Very Long Update)

Well, I’ve done it again: I said I wasn’t going to vanish, and then I did.  You’d think I’d get better about this (well, I thought I would, anyway).

I’ve had a very long few weeks.  I realize that I seem to say this every time I go for an extended period of time without posting, but it really has been a very trying time period for a number of reasons.  I’ll try to be brief in summarizing where I have been and what I’ve been up to.

Life in general:

I have been doing my very best to keep busy over the last month or so because I find I am less likely to fret and worry about senseless things if I’m busy.  Big endeavours lately have been:

– I ate up a week of my time by attending driving school (though I still have the in-car lessons to do).  I’m a bit late to this, seeing as I’m 25, but at least it’s getting done… right?  I’m actually writing while I wait for my first in-car lesson at the moment.

– I volunteer 1-3 times a week for a local blood donor clinic, which has been a very satisfying experience.  I have actually been with them since February, but there have been an abundance of in-community clinics over the last month or so, and I have been covering a particular time slot for someone who’s out on vacation.

– I have been spending a lot of time online researching and preparing myself for a big new undertaking.  I’ve decided that I want to move towards much more sustainable living (getting rid of disposable products and putting extra focus on fresh, home-cooked food – no more processed junk and fast food), so I have been focusing energy on cleaning the rubbish out of my fridge and pantry to make room for cleaner living.

It’s been surprisingly hard, to be totally honest – you don’t realize how attached you are to TV dinners and bottled water until you stop buying them, and how hard it can be to pack your spouse a lunch without using plastic baggies and other disposable containers.  We’re still adjusting and transitioning, but I am definitely already noticing big changes in the way our household runs – and oh man, do I ever do way more dishes now.  I do feel good about all the trash I am keeping out of landfills, though, and I’m really excited for how inevitably good we are going to feel when we’re eating nothing but real, whole food the vast majority of the time. 😀  However, I haven’t even touched the probable biggest challenge of this style of living yet…

– I’ve decided that I’m going to try my very damnedest to cloth diaper our son.  This has been an immensely controversial decision and I have got a LOT of negative feedback from my friends and family about it already, but I’m determined to give it my very best shot.  If I am already going to great lengths to avoid adding trash to landfills, how can I, in good conscience, use disposable diapers?

It’s interesting to note that, when you account for the extra loads of laundry and the water/hydro consumed, cloth diapers aren’t actually that much greener than their disposable counterparts, but with a high-efficiency washer and a clothesline to dry (what I plan to do), it should still be the better option of the two.  Besides, cloth diapers are just so darn cute, and far more affordable.  I’m extremely thrifty, so the saved money is the biggest appeal for me, and I’m hoping that, since I will be home for the first couple of years anyway, the extra time invested in laundry and such won’t end up being a huge deal.  It can’t hurt to try, anyway, right?

– I’ve also been nesting like a mad woman.  I have been working really hard on our baby’s nursery and am finally starting to feel like the room is coming together.  I am sure I will do a full reveal eventually to share all of my hard work over the last several months (and more to come in the months ahead, I am sure).  I’ve also been nesting in other areas of the house, trying to get everything clean and organized.  It’s slow going, but I’m getting there.

Alright, I think that covers all of the basic stuff.  Let’s move on.

Health:

I’m 27 weeks pregnant today, which leaves me just over 11 weeks to my scheduled induction date – how crazy is that?  I’m now scheduled to see my OB every two weeks for biophysical ultrasounds and to check up on how I am doing physically and emotionally.  I had my first one last Friday and baby scored an 8/8 with a couple of minor side concerns (more on this later).  Overall, he is looking very healthy and happy, so we’re hoping this continues to be the case.  Here’s a nice profile shot we managed to snap of him at our ultrasound.

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Physically, this pregnancy has been a lot harder on me than the first one was (it would seem that my body isn’t pleased with me for carrying 2 pregnancies almost consecutively – go figure).  I obviously wouldn’t will to have our son debut any sooner than he’s ready to, but I am quite anxiously awaiting the finish line in the hopes that I will return to some semblance of feeling normal postpartum.  At this point, I’m rearing to get back into shape, and looking forward to maybe having a glass of wine once in a while.  Accounting for pumping time after Brock passed, I have had at least some level of diet restrictions for all but three weeks of the last 17 1/2 months.  That’s a really long time.  I truly feel I have done my time and need a break!

Anyway, on to the other important news I have gotten in recent days… while he scored 8/8 on his BPP, they did have a couple of minor concerns they want to monitor going forward.  One thing was that his kidneys are just a little bit swollen, suggesting there might be some backflow of urine in his bladder.  It’s a relatively common condition, especially in boys, so they’re not terribly concerned at this time that it is anything major – and, in a lot of cases, it corrects itself entirely without intervention.  They might normally have some concern about a blockage if my amniotic fluid were also on the low side, however, I actually have too much fluid, so they really don’t think that that is the case.

Returning to that note about having too much amniotic fluid… it’s not in a particularly troublesome range, it’s just on the higher end of normal, which is sometimes indicative of other underlying conditions.  Their first suspect was the possibility of me having gestational diabetes, which I was then promptly tested for.  And… go figure… I failed the 1-hour test.  In my defense, I didn’t know it was being done that day, and I had just finished knocking back a big, slightly sweet tea when they told me I was scheduled to take it.  I suppose there’s some possibility that it interfered with the results, though I’m not too optimistic about that.

Either way, I have also since had my repeat 2-hour test (which is done with fasting blood), so I should have a definitive answer on whether or not I actually do have GD in the next few days.  I’d rather not have it, of course, but I’m just looking forward to having a definitive answer, regardless of which side it falls on.  I’m sure I will manage if it does turn out that I do have it, and that it will all be worth it in the end.

Emotional:

Holy crap, have I ever been a neurotic mess lately.

I think, until a couple of weeks ago, I went a solid two months without crying about Brock – there were sad, hard moments, of course, but they weren’t too hard to manage, nor were they too frequent.  Then, suddenly, it seems like everything caught up with me all at once.  My husband and I went out and bought a decorative trunk for his memorabilia (clothes, blankets, condolence cards and such) because we’d been keeping his things in a box until then, but felt he deserved something better.  I decided to move all of his things over a few days back when I felt that I was in a pretty good, stable mood… I bet you can guess how that ended.

I also ended up having a good cry in the hallway outside of my driving school classroom one day when we were being shown a film by MADD about drunk drivers, and a bereaved father got into a bit too much detail about how it feels to lose your child.  He was talking about a teenager, and I lost my son before he ever took his first breath, but the raw, base emotions are all the same.  When he started talking about how you can’t fathom the hurt you feel upon losing a child until you suddenly find yourself in that position, I left the room in a big hurry.

Setting up the new nursery has been a weird experience – it’s often therapeutic, sometimes frustrating, and occasionally really, really hard.  Of course, the big thing is that we’ve needed to go through all of the things from Brock’s old nursery, and it’s hard to decide which is too intimate to use for the new baby and which is okay.  There were some things which were specifically intended for Brock that I don’t know if I will be able to use, like an outfit that was given to me as part of an online baby shower for my old due date club.  I’ve decided not to rule much of anything out just yet, and I’ll make the hard decisions later on.  I still have lots of time to think about it.

Somewhere along the way, I also ran out of that weird, encompassing certainty I had in my gut that everything was going to turn out fine.  I don’t know when or why it happened, but I’m now super worried about a bad outcome all over again.  A couple times each day for the last few weeks, since the fear crept back into my life, I have been finding myself rubbing my belly and thinking, “Please don’t die.  I don’t think I’ll survive losing another one.”  I really don’t know that I would.  I try to take a couple minutes each day to just sit or die down and enjoy a few minutes of quiet with him, just to appreciate him moving and try to capture a few of the moments we’ve had together already… just in case.  Nothing in life is certain.

Closing note:

We are all but certain that his name will be Nathan.

27w

Here’s Nathan and I today, at 27 weeks (forgive the messy room, and the bored Corgi).  People keep making remarks about my size, asking me if I’m totally sure there’s not two babies in there.  I’m not tiny, but I sure don’t feel like I’m big enough to warrant questions like that, either.  It’s funny, though, because in the grand scheme of things, questions like that don’t even really phase or offend me… I’m usually glad that they’re saying things like that instead of asking me if it’s my first, or how old my first is, and so on.

I think I’ve written quite enough for now… ’til next time.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

A couple of days ago, I received an invite to my nephew’s first birthday party.

Initially, I was shocked.  I could not wrap my head around the idea that he was already almost a year old!  Originally, he and Brock were only supposed to be 10 weeks apart, but he decided to arrive early where Brock chose to arrive late, and a 10 week gap turned into a 16 week one.  When I then realized that Brock would have celebrated 8 months of life yesterday (if he had survived, that is) and I did the math, I realized that, yes, it made sense.

Then dread and doubt crept in almost immediately.  I have been highly conflicted for the last few days about what course of action I should take, trying to decide between doing the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ things.  Most of me – the logical center – is telling me I need to go to this party.  I haven’t seen my nephew in 4 months, and I am afraid that, in the future, I’m going to look back on his youth and feel guilty about everything I missed on account of my own emotional strife.

The other part of me is all but certain that, emotionally, I can’t handle it.  As much as I would love to go to the party and be all smiles and cheer like everyone else, I know that it won’t happen.  They’re just too close, and I see too much of Brock in my nephew.  Every time I see him, I am reminded of how excited I was at the prospect that they would be able to grow up together – because, at the time, I was blissfully unaware that babies ever died.  Since we lost Brock, I feel like there’s something missing from the picture every time I see my nephew.  There’s supposed to be two babies, but instead, there’s only one.

Just how upset would I be?  That I’m not sure of.  I might be able to observe quietly without having any meltdowns, or I might completely lose my marbles and spend the whole party crying in the guest room upstairs.  In either case, I am doubtful that they will understand.  If I manage to keep my emotions in check, they won’t realize how hard even that is for me, and I’m going to be so busy trying not to have a meltdown that I’m not going to enjoy myself on any capacity.  If I lose it, not only am I going to feel awful and embarrassed for taking away from their happy event, they’re still not likely to understand why I would have reacted in that way.  I wouldn’t want them to understand, either, but in either case, I’d feel like a terrible person just for trying to deal with my own emotions.

I don’t think that my brother-in-law and his fiancee are cold people or anything, but I do find they are particularly emotionally distant when it comes to us losing Brock.  I can’t judge because I’d probably be pretty detached too if the situations were reversed, and I am legitimately glad that they don’t understand what we are going through.  At the same time, sometimes I really do wish that people understood when situations were exceptionally difficult for me so I wouldn’t feel quite so guilty when I don’t handle things the way that I am expected to.

With all that said, I’ve decided that I can’t attend the party.  As much as I would love to pretend that I am a bigger, stronger person than I am, and give people the impression that I can handle tough stuff like it’s no big deal, I also realize that I need to worry about myself first, and, sadly, I’m just not able to handle this sort of thing – not yet.  The possible outcomes I see all fall on a spectrum somewhere between ‘bad’ and ‘catastrophically awful’.  I am afraid that they will be disappointed, and maybe even offended, that I’m not going to be there, but the sad truth of it is that I can’t explain why I can’t be there in a way that they will understand, nor can I begrudge them for not understanding.  I can only hope that they are able to see the same logic – that just because I can’t explain it to them doesn’t make my feelings any less valid – and that they realize it’s nothing against them or their son.  I might have tried to attend (even if only for a short while) if the event were held locally, but since they live a long way away from us, I can’t justify three hours of driving to pop in for half an hour before getting overwhelmed.

As if losing a child weren’t enough… I now need to proceed forward with the worry that every decision I make is potentially going to offend or anger people.  I can’t handle more than I can handle, though.  I hope they will understand. 😦

Scan Results, and Dealing with Difficult Feelings

Whoops – I was supposed to post over the weekend, wasn’t I?  I apologize for my tardiness, but I had a rather chaotic weekend, and, as it turns out, I had too much to say about our results to just make a quick post about it.  I decided to wait to write until I had a reasonable amount of time to ensure that I didn’t rush through it.  So, here I am.

I am finding more and more to like about my hospital as time goes on.  Sure, it sucks that it’s such a long trip and my husband keeps having to swap shifts at work to attend them with me (and every visit is $20 in parking and another $10+ in gas), but they treat us so well that it’s hard to be annoyed or upset by it.  It’s just money, after all, and you can’t put a price on a healthy baby and a safe pregnancy.  So, once again, my husband was allowed to sit in on the whole scan with me, and I was kept amused/at calm by chatting with him and watching him watch the screen.  I guess our baby was being an acrobat, because I kept seeing him smile at things that the baby was doing during the scan which gave me the impression that things were going well.  It was a long scan, taking nearly a full hour (and I was told to get up and walk around at one point to try and get them to move), but our tech eventually had all the pictures she needed and sent us back out to wait for the results.  Like our last tech, she was nice enough to leave a photo up for us to snap before we left.  It’s quite the beautiful profile, if you ask me (but I might be a tad biased).

Jellybean 19+1Another great thing about being at a high-risk clinic is that they process your results almost immediately.  Whereas I had to wait several weeks to discuss the results of my scan with my midwives the first time around, the results of this scan were processed and brought to us about 45 minutes later.  Our OB went over them and told us the news we were most hoping for: baby was looking perfectly healthy and happy, and we had no reason to suspect anything at all was wrong with him/her.  Woohoo!  With appointments concluded, we got a copy of our report (the gender was on the second page, which we hadn’t looked at yet) and headed home to do a gender reveal shoot with a friend of mine.

For our reveal, we decided we wanted to do something that was both a little bit silly and not too expensive.  I originally wanted to do a paint fight, but opted for the less-messy option of a silly string fight.  We gave my photographer friend the report with four cans of silly string (two pink and two blue) and told her to give us the correct colour of string to spray one another with.  It was a lot of fun.

Without further delay, here’s the reveal we posted on Facebook.  We’re excited to announce that we are expecting another boy!

Reveal Strip Final(Yes, that second shot is me hiding my face after being sprayed in the mouth.  Silly string does not taste great.)

Here’s where we move on to the difficult feelings part.

I wasn’t honest originally when I said that I had no hopes for the gender of this baby.  With both of my pregnancies, my husband and I have both been in agreement that we would really love a little girl – not that we wouldn’t be happy with a boy, but we both thought we’d have a blast with a girl.  While I’m not 100% on his motives (aside from the fact that little girls are adorable), I think that I mostly craved a girl because I wanted to draw a parallel between my baby and myself.  I had a crappy childhood and have been tomboyish for as long as I have been able to make the decision to be, and my inner girl has been fighting to get out for the last few years.  With it comes the desire to dress something up in cute little jelly sandals, frilly skirts, and pretty hair berets.  (Never mind that this is contradictory to my gender equality impulses… the heart wants what the heart wants.)  I also figured that, since I knew the types of experiences I would have liked to have in my childhood, I’d know how to give a girl a better upbringing than I had got.  I wasn’t so confident with a boy.

Anyway, my desire for a girl was even stronger this time around, because I had myself convinced that a girl would be easier to process because it would be a lot more different.  Not that I think it would be without its struggles, either, but I dread the heartache and sorrow that will inevitably come from putting a different little boy to sleep in the onesies and blankets that were meant for Brock.  We wouldn’t have bought a new stroller or bassinet or anything for this second child, so I’m sure those moments would still have stung regardless, but I’m now worried about how it’s going to feel to spend the first few months watching this boy use everything that was meant for his big brother.

There are lots of secondary fears, too.  Of the four families that make up my husband and I, two of them are extremely boy heavy (one on each side), one is pretty evenly split, and one favours girls a little bit.  I’m now battling concerns that we’re never going to end up getting a girl because, if all goes well (knock on wood), we’re only planning to have one more child after this one.  I suppose that the order of the children doesn’t matter so much, but I do really hope I get the opportunity to raise both genders at some point, and right now the odds aren’t looking to be in my favour.  At the same time, if it had been a girl, I’m sure I’d still be wondering if the next would be a boy, and worrying that my only chance to have a boy had passed with Brock, so there’s really no winning in this category: neither answer would really have pleased me.

I spent the first 24 hours or so after getting the news feeling really upset, and the main reason I felt upset was because I had the audacity to feel disappointed.  Our baby looked happy and healthy, and I knew that was the important takeaway and what I should be most concerned with – and it was – but I also have residual anxiety because I remembered being similarly, mildly disappointed when we found out Brock was a boy.  When we later lost him, I blamed myself for every bad thought or feeling I had ever had towards him, like somehow occasionally being a little disappointed by his gender or complaining about backaches made me lose him.  Now that I was having thoughts like that again, I was somehow convinced that my disappointment was going to find a way to kill this baby, too.  Not only was I sad, but I was anxious and upset with myself for daring to be anything but happy.

My advice to you, now that I’ve had some time to sort through my feelings?  Feel how you need to feel!  Don’t put yourself under unnecessary stress by believing ridiculous things like these.  If you feel sad, don’t repress it, and for goodness sakes, don’t feel bad about having feelings, even if they’re not the ones you wish they were.  Pregnancy after loss is a plenty scary and treacherous path without us adding artificial worries to it.  Complaining about a sore back, stretch marks, or feeling a little disappointment over the gender of your baby is never ever going to affect the outcome of your pregnancy, and even though I rationally know that, I still got hung up on it for a while.

I have mostly conquered my disappointment today (it was mild to begin with), and am having an easier time focusing on the good feelings today.  I am mostly relieved that everything is looking good, and even if I do have occasional lapses, I know that I have another 18+ weeks to work through any other feelings that might come up – and, of course, that I’m going to love the heck out of this baby when we meet, regardless of their genital configuration.  Gender doesn’t mean a whole lot of anything, anyway, in the long run. 🙂

Change of Heart

You probably remember me posting not too long ago about how I was planning not to find out the gender of our baby this time.  Yeah… I’ve completely flip-flopped on this decision for several reasons.

I think I started second-guessing my decision about six weeks ago (holy crap, has it already been that long since we shared the news?!) when I found the courage to share the news of my pregnancy with my bereavement support group.  I asked the other women who had went on to have other successful pregnancies afterwards what the genders of their following babies were, and how that felt to them.  Both the women I asked had had stillborn girls; one went on to have a boy, and the other went on to have another girl, and both described the news as very difficult to process.

The woman who had a boy afterwards was upset because she’d grown accustomed to the idea of a girl, and immediately began to worry that she would have nothing but boys from there on, and the opportunity to have a girl would have eluded her forever.  (Fortunately for her, she had another rainbow girl later, but I can totally understand her concern.)  The woman who had a girl found herself frustrated that she was having another girl at all – why did she need to lose the first girl only to have another girl?  Why couldn’t the first one simply have survived if she was just going to get another girl anyway?  Both women told me they were primarily frustrated that, regardless of the gender, the new baby they were expecting wasn’t going to replace the one who passed, and finding out the gender somehow helped to drive that point home for both of them.  Having a new child doesn’t replace the one you lost, as much as you might wish that it did, and that’s it’s own horrible thing to need to process during your pregnancy after loss, but I digress.

After these honest discussions with women who had been where I was heading already, I pretty immediately began to worry if finding out in the thick of everything would end up overwhelming me, and if I might benefit from having the time before the birth to process the news myself.  I remember how my first birth went, and how completely, totally uncomfortable I felt.  Since Brock was my first, I don’t know how much of the discomfort in that room was related to the fact he was stillborn, and how much was just me feeling uncomfortable in general.  I remember feeling that people were sitting in on something that was very intimate to me, and feeling stifled – but would I have still felt that way if our baby had been alive?  I honestly have no idea.  Either way, it was a tense room, and I felt like I didn’t have the privacy or presence of mind, with all those people watching me, to work through my feelings about it properly.  I wonder if I will feel the same way when our second child arrives.

I’ve decided not to find out the hard way.  I already see myself having to process a lot at the time of birth – the fact that this baby will (knock on wood, please oh please) come out screaming where I’m used to silence, the fact that this baby will not be Brock (no matter how I might wish that they are), and that I will finally be done with this long, scary pregnancy.  Then I’ll have all kinds of normal new mom stuff to deal with – latching, cuddling, photo taking, visitors.  Do I also want to throw in the added stress of having to try to decide, in the moment, how I feel about the gender of the baby?  I will be perfectly happy with either, I’m sure, but I also don’t doubt that certain anxieties and doubts, like the ones I listed above, will still find a way to be present.

So, at the moment, we’re hoping to find out the gender at our anatomy scan on Friday.  I don’t really know if I’m hoping for anything in particular – I don’t think so? – but I also have absolutely no intuition on what our baby will be.  Heck, I was all but convinced Brock was a girl, so I know better than to trust my mother’s intuition on this one – this is one area where it was let me down before.  I have had several people tell me they think it’s a girl, but I think they are simply betting that because we’ve already had a boy, so they think it is more likely to have the opposite this time.

I am also hoping that finding out will help me bond with our upcoming baby a bit better.  At the moment, I’m still finding it hard to believe I am pregnant at all, and I would really like to move on to trying to make a proper connection with our baby.  I am going to love the hell out of our child, regardless of their gender and what they decide to do with their life, but there’s something frustrating about having to call our child ‘baby’ or give it a pet name (I have nicknamed him/her Lipsmacker, because they made a show of it on our last ultrasound) and having to call them ‘they’ or ‘it’ all the time.  It feels terribly impersonal.  When I know the gender, I’ll also know their name, and knowing our baby on a first-name basis feels like a really good idea right now.

I will check back in on Friday or Saturday to let you all know how it went!  I’ve already got a friend ready to take reveal photos for us, but have yet to decide on exactly what we want to do for it.  Either way, I will share photos when it happens.