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.

Brock’s Milk: Update

About twenty minutes ago, a courier came and picked up my last shipment of milk for the milk bank.

I have very mixed feelings.  I know I did a good thing, and I know it’s high time I moved on with my life, but I also can’t help but feel like another little piece of me has left with it.  Weaning was really difficult, and even though I stopped pumping more than a week ago and I’m not expressing it, my body seems to be taking a while to get the memo, which is making matters even worse.  I keep getting moments of insanity, where I remember that it’s pretty easy to relactate for a little while, and I find myself thinking, “Maybe it’s not too late to change my mind…” I’m not going to do it, but I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about it.  Being able to donate my milk was a small consolation in all this mess, and I’m going to miss the experience immensely.  I know that sounds odd – who misses being hooked up to a pump for several hours a day? – but it’s the truth.

With all said and done, I pumped for 11 weeks and donated 1,371 oz of breastmilk to a reputable milk bank in need.  My only lament is that I couldn’t do more.  I think, in time, I will be able to look back on this and be legitimately proud of myself for what I did, but, in the meantime, I mostly just feel sad. 😦

At least I can drink as much coffee as I want, now.  This is the first time in more than a year where I am free of caffeine restrictions.  I guess I’ll take what I can get!

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I survived!

I apologize for my absence; the last couple of weeks have been both hectic and trying.  My husband was struggling at work with the holidays looming over our heads, so he took some time off.  I also started my new job shortly afterwards, and have ultimately just been trying to take care of myself (and him) since.

As expected, Christmas was a catastrophe.  We stayed home and avoided interacting with people wherever possible.  We had a Christmas Eve brunch at my in-laws’, and a Boxing Day dinner, and just attending those activities was a pretty big feat –  I doubt we could have handled more than that.  A couple of our friends who didn’t have plans came over in the afternoon on Christmas day and helped us take our minds off of things by distracting us with video games and alcohol.  The night still ended with me bawling into a wine glass, but it beat out the alternative – I’d expected to be a blubbering mess all day, so the camaraderie was actually quite helpful, in that regard.

I typically don’t like to subscribe to big holidays or arbitrary milestones, but I cannot wait for 2015 to get here.  I don’t exactly have any New Years’ Resolutions or anything (again, a silly concept – I don’t feel like it should take a new year to tell me that I should make improvements to my life, I should just make them at my own discretion) but so many terrible things happened to me in 2014 that I wholly look forward to having this year be in the past.  This was easily the worst year of my life thus far, so I look forward to wiping the slate clean and restarting in 2015.  Even if you don’t account for the stillbirth (which is easily the worst part of the year), I also worked the most demanding, terrible job I’ve ever had, made several poor judgement calls in other departments, and did a lot of stupid things.  I keep wishing that I would wake up tomorrow to find that it was all a terrible dream, that this year never happened, and I could redo it all again with the knowledge I have now.  I could make things work out so much better.

I don’t know what the new year has in store for me… all I know is that, whatever it is, it’s got to be an improvement on what this year had to offer.  My present motto is “2015: things can only get better.

Brock’s Milk

People never seem to know what to think when they find out I am donating Brock’s milk.

The reaction is typically positive or, at the very least, neutral.  They are often very curious about the process behind it, or why I decided I wanted to do it.  I’m not entirely sure why I felt so strongly about it, to be honest, but it was the first definitive decision I made after I found out that he had passed.  At the time, I told myself it was because I wanted to make sure that someone got some measure of good out of my terrible situation.  That is still true, and that is what I often tell people when they ask, but I’ve come to realize that it’s not that black and white.

What I don’t tell them is that I like how pumping keeps me accountable.  It gives me a reason to get out of bed on the bad days, and keeps me from overindulging: my desire to make good milk keeps me from taking in too much caffeine, sugar, alcohol or Ativan.  It helps me keep a slightly sunnier disposition, because I often humour the idea that Brock’s milk, forfeit by him when he passed, might very well be saving another baby’s life.  If I can spare another couple from the devastating emotional trauma that my husband and I suffered when he died, that is as close to a consolation as I can get.

Even harder to explain is that the responsibility keeps me sane.  I dropped my whole life — quit my job and moved — in preparation of devoting every ounce of my time and energy to motherhood.  If I weren’t doing something in his absence, I would go insane.  I already find there are too many hours in a day, and not enough to fill them with.  The very least I can do is devote a couple of hours a day to a positive venture.  It, in itself, is a ‘job’.  It doesn’t stop me from having too much time to think, but it’s a bit of help, at any rate.

Furthermore, and easily the most complicated reason why I continue to pump – something which happened gradually, and took deep root before I quite realized what was happening – is the fact that I am not ready to let go yet.  Letting my milk dry up will feel like I’ve admitted defeat, like I have accepted that it is time to move on with my life.  I feel tremendous guilt even when I am late for a pump, like I’m dishonouring Brock’s memory.

About two weeks ago, I realized I had developed an emotional attachment to expressing his milk.  Life has begun to approach a new normal, and I am starting to feel pressure to devote my time to ‘normal’ ventures.  I am falling behind on schoolwork – I quickly ran out after his demise and applied to do correspondence – and I am starting a new job in the next couple of weeks.  (In both cases, I ran out and got involved in them because I needed to fill the void that Brock left with something, and this was my own convoluted way of trying to cope.)  My husband is extremely eager to try and conceive our rainbow baby, something which will likely not happen while I am still nursing.  I share his enthusiasm for a new baby, but I also don’t know how to explain, even to him, that pumping milk is the only thing that keeps me feeling any sense of purpose.  It feels like the only part of pregnancy and postpartum that my body has figured out how to do right.  It’s the only tangible reminder I have of my son, aside from some constantly fading memories and various types of scar tissue.  It’s the only thing that I have left that is here for him, the only part of him that is, in some way, alive.

I pump his milk because I don’t know how to stop.  I feel like the day I stop will be the day I admit that he’s gone for good.  It’s not that I don’t know he’s dead; I realize that nothing I do will bring him back.  I also realize that I can’t pump forever, and that I will need to move on at some point.  All the same, letting the last piece of him go is not something I am ready to do yet.

I have been told I am amazing, and called a saint and a martyr.  People keep revering me for my strength and telling me what an incredibly selfless thing I am doing.  I smile, nod, and thank them for their kind words, because it is a lot easier to take their praise than it is to explain why I’m actually doing it for myself.  It’s great that they perceive it as strength, but, honestly, I have never felt so weak.

I don’t think people would understand if I tried to tell them that pumping Brock’s milk is part of my grieving, and my way of coping with his loss.  I’m slowly learning to wean from the pump.  It might take several more weeks, or months, before I can let go for good, but, in the meantime, I need to have faith in myself that I won’t take on more than I can handle emotionally, and that I will know when it’s time to move on.  I’m awaiting the day where I can feel good about what I have accomplished in his memory, rather than feeling guilty about not doing more than I already have.   I’m not quite there yet, but at least I’m moving in the ‘right’ direction.  Unfortunately, the right direction still feels wrong to me.

A couple months ago, I would never have anticipated a problem even remotely like this.  I was blissfully unaware of the complicated, ugly beast that grief can be.  Oh, what I wouldn’t give to get that sense of naivety back.  I want to go back in time to the 19th of October and scream at my midwife when she told me that he was fine and I should go home.