Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Another Christmas without her

I cannot lie, this Christmas is easier than last.  Baby Bear is here and alive and wonderful and she keeps me so busy that I am more distracted from the intense missing if Grace.  However the saddness creeps up and bubbles over in the quiet times, early in the morning, nap time and late at night.  When I should have an almost 2 year old up and talking and wanting to do STUFF not rest like her baby sister.  It still boggles my mind that time keeps passing, those few hours with Grace are so imprinted on my mind it feels like they were yesterday.

Dear sweet baby Grace  I miss you so much, I wish you were here with us so I could hug you and kiss you and not just love you from afar.  I love you with all that I am, all that I have and all I could be.  You are my sun and moon and loving you and knowing you make me a better person.




Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Our Family Christmas 2013

Here we are, with our two girls.  Another Holiday season, how I wish she was here in my arms and not just her bear...


Friday, November 15, 2013

Another month goes by and she is still gone

I have thought about posting so many times.  I have had so many ideas for posts, things I wanted to share, to process about my grief, but life is so hectic and tiring.

I have these moments when my grief wells up and I am right there again thick in my loss.  They come at the strangest moments.  I was applying for new health insurance.  We are one of the 5% of families that could not keep their present health insurance because of the ACA.  It has been stressful to find a new policy that we could afford and could keep our current doctors, but I found one.  The application was so easy, but I only could list one of my babies.  Grace could not be included, she does not need health insurance.  To the world we are a family of three, not four.  I cried and cried while entering that information.

My Molly Bear came this week.  We were on the way to an infant CPR class and it was in a big box on the front porch.  It was so beautiful and heavy.  I forgot what 4.5 lbs feels like in your arms.  I snuggled it close to me and cried.  I so wished that it was Grace alive and warm and in my arms.  We used a new sitter this week for Rosabella.  Mark needed to show her how to change a cloth diaper, and all he could think of to use was the new Molly Bear.  He felt bad about it, but I loved that Grace got to act as a big sister to Rosabella.

We have started a bedtime routine with Rosabella and it includes a bath every night.  We have started by using products that were given to Rosabella, but now that we are running out of those I have started to those that Mark bought for Grace.  There was a sale on baby bath when I was pregnant and he had no idea how much a baby would use so he bought 12 bottles of Lavender and 2 of baby shampoo and 2 bottles of baby lotion.  They were all lined up under the sink in the bathroom, waiting.  My Mom found them when looking for shampoo when she was at my house while we were in the hospital having Grace.  It made her cry since we were so ready, over ready for this little baby and she was not coming home with us.  Now I am using them and I am so worried that I should save them since they are Grace's and she doesn't have that many things.  But how silly to have a dozen baby bath products collecting dust under the sink, it won't bring her back.  Nothing will.

My second holiday season without her looms, it does seem easier than last year, but I still don't want to be shopping for a second memorial ornament for the tree, I want a toddler running around getting into everything and being jealous of her baby sister.

I know that this post is disjointed, but that is how I feel lately.  Too much to do, not enough time, but I wanted to share Grace and my grief again.  I needed to.  I hope that I don't take another month to post again.  Although even when I am not writing here she is in my heart and my thoughts always.

Monday, October 14, 2013

I'll be you Mother forever

It has been a hard few days, maybe something about it being Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month, I have been crying a lot and just missing Grace so badly.  She feels far way and right here all at the same time.  My DH said that Grace did not like him doing something and I thought he misspoke and meant Rosabella, but he said "No Grace does not like this, she holds me to a higher standard."  I bought a frame at a discount store for a picture of Rosabella and then felt so bad because I did not buy one for Grace.  I went back later to look for one for her, but they did not have any more.  I wish that I had gotten to be the mother to Grace than I am for Rosabella.  I wish that I did not lose all those little moments.  I wrote this last week when the missing her and the grieving her just overwhelmed me.

I'll be your Mother forever
Not just for the day I held you and kissed you and wished that you could stay

I cannot rock you to sleep, or kiss away your tears
You sleep soundlessly without me.
And there is no pain or sadness to cause tears where you are.

My heart aches for all that we lost
The million gentle moments we should have shared
The ones stolen from us, by that cruel twist

But the most important thing could not be taken...
Our love for each other.

Know this baby, know this deep and true
I'll be your Mother forever

Monday, September 30, 2013

Luminous Grace

You have felt so far away recently.  The time with your sister is blurring the edges of my memories of you.  I need to re-connect with you.  I need to honor you.  I love you so much, my heart expands with the emotion with every beat.  I will try harder.  I will do better.

Thank You Carly Marie for the beautiful image.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Baby Loss all around

I have been meaning to write this post for sometime, but going back to work full time, and trying to be a fully present mama to Rosabella and mourn my beautiful Grace just exhausts me.  I have heard so many stories of baby loss in the last few weeks.  Did you know that Keanu Reeves lost a baby girl 2 years ago with his then girlfriend?  I had no idea.  I heard about a graduate school class mate of a co-worker whose baby died 23 hours after he was born.  Another woman had a miscarriage from an ectopic pregnancy, who then had her fallopian tube burst and during emergency surgery to remove her tube the surgeon nicked her uterine artery and could not stop the bleeding.  She was in a coma for days before going back to surgery and then had severe blood clots in her legs and is now on dialysis since her kidneys are failing.  Now people tell me these stories since I am the woman who lost a baby and I know what to say or do to help.  Oddly I do know what to say and what to do.  I am experienced and wise in the ways of living through the nightmare of losing your child.  I am knowing of infertility.  I inhabit that uncomfortable space of grief, since I have carried my own since Feb 10, 2012 the day my daughter died.

I had a dream last night that Rosabella had died, she was in her car seat at work and she was gone and a co-worker drove me home without her and I told him that we needed to go back because I could not sleep without her.  I woke in a cold sweat with my very living breathing baby at my side.  One of my babies is safe.

I ordered another picture for Grace from the Seashore of Remembrance.   I needed to connect with her again.  I wish that I could do more, I just don't know what more is.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Nursery

I was just laying on the floor of the nursery, waiting for Rosabella to be deeply asleep enough that I could leave.  I was crying, quietly so that I would not wake the baby up, thinking about the first time I was laying on the floor of that room.  It was in the first few days I was home from the hospital, the room was unfinished, no crib, no changing table, and no baby.  Grace was gone and the room looked as if she was never here.  I just screamed and sobbed and shook and hyperventilated on that floor.  So mad at a world that would take my precious miracle baby away, so devastated that I was still here with an empty womb and milk filling my breasts.  Now this room has a baby, and all the accessories and clothes that come with a living child, but even with all that it is empty, because there is another baby who should have napped in there.  My dear Grace, my missing baby, I love you so.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

My First Week Back at Work

I survived my first week away from Rosabella.  Holding her and nursing her and being her Mom has been like a balm on my wounded heart.  My heart that misses Grace every day.  Going back to work this week and being away has been so hard.  After Grace died going back to work helped, it gave me a few hours of the day to be distracted from my grief, a routine to keep my depression manageable.  I had a group of co-workers that supported me and it was a good environment.  Now just a little over a year later only 2 employees are still there from when I was pregnant with Grace.  Most of them don't know about her.  My clients ask about my new daughter and some know that I have another daughter, but most don't know that she is dead.  "Two girls only 15 months apart!  You've got your hands full."  I smile and say "yes I do."  What can you say?  I love that there are people out there for whom Grace is alive and I don't want her to die for them too...  It also makes me so sad because it brings back in that moment that she should be here, walking and talking and making life complicated with her baby sister.  The goneness of her resonates.  I am lucky to have her sister, I know this, but God would I love that complicated life that some people think that I have.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

I'll See You in the Morning

This book was given to me at Rosabella's baby shower.  I had never heard of it before.  I read it to her for the first time last week and I just started crying.  It was what I wanted to say to Grace, what I want to say to her now.  That I was right nearby and I would be with her again.  Here are the words I want to say

I'll see you in the morning.  For now it's time to sleep.
I will stay and watch a while till you are counting sheep.

Don't be afraid of darkness, don't be afraid my sweet.
The night is just a blanket that helps the Earth to sleep.

Creatures great and creatures small will all be sleeping soon.
Under the same blanket, under the same moon.

So close your eyes and go to sleep, by the light of the moon above.
I'll see you in the morning in the light of the sun my love.

Dream your dreams of moonbeams.  Let the night become your friend.
The twinkling stars will keep you safe till morning comes again.

I'll be here if you need me.  I'm only steps away.
So close your eyes and go to sleep and dream of a brand new day.

Good night.
Sleep tight.
I'll see you in the morning.

I'll see you again someday baby, I'm only steps away.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Why I still read others stories of baby loss

I have a support website that I have been going to since 2 weeks after Grace died.  I go there every day.  I read the stories of other mamas who have lost their babies and I cry.  Sometimes I write in to support them, let them know it does get better than those excruciating early days.  Say their babies names and let them know that they are not forgotten.  It is taxing, but cathartic.  I go so that through sharing in these women's grief I can connect to my grief and in some way connect to Grace.  I also hope that in some small way I can help those mamas new to this crappy journey, so that they know they have an army of supporters and that they are anything but alone.  Grace feels so far away sometimes, but those few minutes a day that I read on that website we are close again.  Baby Grace I miss you and love you every day.

Monday, August 19, 2013

New Leaf... New Life... New Blog

I started a new blog last week.  One just for Rosabella.  It is about her journey and life and being a mom to an infant.  It is more of an open letter to her.  I talk about Grace, but she is not the focus.  I realized that I was using this blog for too many things.  It was about my grief, and loss, my anxiety and worry during Rosabella's pregnancy and my trials as a new Mom, but now I found that I was tempted to write more about Rosabella and I felt like it did not belong here.  This blog is called Shattered Dreams and honestly my rainbow baby needs her own place and Grace needs to be honored here.  I also worried that some of my readers could be hurt by all the discussion of Rosabella since my blog can mostly be found on baby loss sites.  So Rosabella has her own space, and Grace has her own space.  It means that I may not post here quite as often, but I still grieve my first born and I still need a place to talk about those feelings.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Grace's 18 month birthday

Today my darling first born would have been 18 months old.  She would be talking, admittedly nothing we would likely understand, walking, we might even be starting potty training.  She would be weaned, eating all solid foods.  So many firsts, so many things we missed out on with her.  We miss her so much, every day.  We watch her beautiful sister grow and thrive and although I would not trade a minute of that for anything it does highlight just what we have lost with Grace.

My beautiful first born, I think of you daily and wish you were here to love on your baby sister.  I hope so much that we will be together again some day, some how, some where.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Breastfeeding Week

As you know I have had my issues with breastfeeding, but now Rosabella and I are cruising.  We nurse in public, we nurse in bed, we can latch at a moments notice :)  There is little discomfort ever and I am so glad that I stuck with it, but I also have so much respect in my heart for the moms that could not and used formula.  Even with support it is hard and for all those who nursed just a few weeks hold your heads up.

I have also been thinking back to what it was like when my milk came in for Grace.  The aching breasts, the torture of taking a shower, wearing two sports bras night and day to encourage my supply to dry up.  The emotional pain of wanting so badly to have my baby back, the uselessness of my lactating breasts.  So that is present in my mind this week as well.  All the mamas who wanted to breastfeed, but were not able to since their babies were gone you are also in my heart.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Are we losing it?

So things have been going better with Rosabella lately.  She is eating well and sleeping well and generally a much more fun baby to be around.  There were a few weeks there that were just rough, when we came to the realization that our baby cries much more than most, although not like a baby with colic.  It was hard and not very fun and made me wonder how people ever have more than one child?  I now think that just like you forget the discomfort of pregnancy and the pain of labor you also forget the constant crying of a 4 to 12 week old baby.  Here we are just on the better side of the crying and thinking about a third child.  Yikes!  My DH is more the driving force for this than I am, but about 80% of the time I am thinking about another baby.  My cycle has not even come back yet, we may have fertility issues again, but I am thinking about it and even planning for it (not getting rid of baby clothes Rosabella has outgrown, not getting rid of boy's clothes that were given to us in case our third is a little boy, etc).  As hard as caring for Rosabella has been I cry when I think that this may be the only infant I get to sleep curled up with at night, the only sweet baby I get to dress and kiss and watch learn about herself and the world.  Would I feel this way if we had Grace here?  A 17 month old and a 2 month old?  I don't know.  I just know these are the crazy thoughts in my head.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Degrees of Loss

Losing your child is hell and you feel like you are the only person in the world whose heart has broken like that.  Then you meet others in the baby loss and child loss community and you hear of other hells that seem just as bad or even worse than what you have lived through and you start to measure degrees of loss.  At first I was jealous of those parents who got to see their child breathe and live only to have them die later.  They got to hold their living baby and whisper sweet words to them, I only got to hold my daughters' body.  Then the parents who had their babies for weeks or even months before they died, I was so envious of the time they got to spend.  Was their loss less than mine because they got to have those amazing minutes, days, weeks or months?  At the time it felt that way, but now having Rosabella for not just minutes or days, but 9 weeks I cannot imagine the hell of losing her.  A new perspective on loss has reached me, having those memories does not make it easier, it makes in harder.  Rosabella has brought me so much understanding about being human, just like Grace taught me how deeply you can love another person, even before they are born, even before they have taken a breath, even if they don't.  What I know now is that losing your child whenever, however is hell, there are no degrees of loss it is all hell, different hells, but hell all the same.  We have all lost our babies and no matter how long we got to know them for they are still gone.  I wish kind thoughts to all those mamas I was jealous of before, I just did not know and I am sorry.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Empty Place on my Walls

We got the prints from the professional photographer of Rosabella's newborn shoot and the print from the hospital photos a few weeks back.  After a trip to IKEA for frames they are now all matted, framed and hung in our living room and foyer.  They look great, but they also make me sad.  We have some small pictures of Grace in my office, in the library and in Mark's studio, but none in public areas of the house.  I have thought about having her pictures displayed more publicly, but would that be too emotionally difficult for us?  Do I want all people who come into my home and be able to see her?  Then I started thinking that we already have so many more pictures of Rosabella than we do of Grace and that will only increase with time.  Even if we hang more pictures of Grace those are the only pictures that we will ever have, whereas we can take as many pictures of her sister as we want.  There is and always will be an empty place on the walls and in our hearts.



Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Learning Curve

The truth is you can read all the parenting books that you want once you have a baby, all that crap gets thrown out the window.  Poor Rosabella has been subject to our learning on the job.  We finally have the breast feeding somewhat down, she is not taking any formula and is doing well.  My nipples are surviving, not perfect, but not bad either.  Now she is refusing to nap so she gets super cranky and cries.  We watched the video "Happiest Baby on the Block" and have been using those techniques to settle her and get her to sleep and so far so good, but it has been a ton of work.  I am tired and so is the DH, but we are happy.  I keep waiting for her to grow up a little more so that she is easier to take care of, but I know that I will miss these early days.

Especially the co-sleeping, waking up with her tiny body curled against mine is one of the nicest things ever.  We never planned to completely co-sleep, we have a side bassinet for the bed that is now used to store blankets.  Now that I think about it we have been co-sleeping with Grace since we got her ashes back.  Her Bear sleeps with us every night.  The missing her just never changes, just like my love for her, it is always there even when I am happy, even when Rosabella takes every bit of energy I have (plus some), it is there.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Praying for naptime

What a crazy time.  My girl is fussing and crying up a storm.  Yikes!  What does she want?  Food?  Comfort?  Basically she only stops crying when she is nursing and my poor nipples cannot do that 16 hours a day.  I love her, but I can't help dreaming about when she will take 2 naps a day and I will have a moment to do something, anything like fold laundry.  How to women doe this who have more than one child?  They truly are super women.  When I start to get really frustrated I just imagine that she is Grace and wouldn't I do anything for Grace to be alive and fussy and crying.

Now there have been good moments, a few, she was a smiley happy baby the morning of the fourth and we got some great pictures.  She has started to play a game I call "Faces."  It started with me mimicking the faces she makes at me, and has progressed to her mimicking the faces I make at her.  The play sessions do not last long, after all she has a busy schedule of crying to maintain, but they warm my heart and give me some patience for the next few hours of screaming.

The truth is I am a tired mom to a beautiful, living, baby girl and I would not trade one tired moment, but I can pray for those naps.....

The strength to keep going.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Growth Spurt Blues

My baby girl is growing again.  At least that is what I am hoping for, in the past 2 days my easy darling Rosabella has turned into red devil baby and is only happy when nursing, and even after a long nursing session she is still hungry.  Yikes, it has been a LONG few days.  I hope that she calms down again to her normal sweet self.  Also I feel nervous about my milk production, since she ALWAYS seems hungry. If this continues past this weekend I plan to head off to my lactation consultant and see if anything is going on.

I went to a breast feeding support group at the local children's hospital yesterday.  I have never gotten a lot out of in person support groups, but I thought that I would give this a try.  It was actually the first time that Rosabella and I ever went anywhere by ourselves and the first time we used the stroller.  It was a better support group than I have been to in the past, but still not my cup of tea.  Rosabella was the skinniest baby there, but the most alert.  They have you weigh your baby at the start of the meeting, the feed during the meeting and weigh again at the end.  Rosabella did not feed well, she was lazy at the breast and fussy, so she gained less than an ounce after feeding.  It was depressing and I worried that this is common for her.  Rosabella was fussing and the RN running the meeting said that she still seemed hungry and I should put her back to the breast.  So we did that, but then she unlatches and cries and just wants to fuss.  Ugh.  The good news was that she weighs over 8 lbs now (8.5 lb completely dressed with a diaper on).  I don't think that I will go back, but I am glad that I went once.  Maybe the La Leche League next week....

A smile before the growth spurt started

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Day of Firsts - June 18, 2013

So today my darling girl is growing up.  I have wished for these milestones, but now that they are here they remind me that time is passing and I am going to blink and her babyhood will be over.  Today she smiled at me for the first time and looked like she really meant it.  She also has been discovering her hands belong to her and managed to suck her thumb for the first time.  She is also getting too big for her newborn clothes and is in a 3 month onesie today.  She is too big for the few items of clothing that belonged to her sister...  All the things we did not get to have with Grace, all the milestones, all the sleepless nights.  God do I miss her.  Rosabella helps, I cannot lie that having her has not been a balm for my soul and healing for my heart, but I still miss my first born girl with every heartbeat.

Thinking about my fur kids

On Glow there was a recent blog post about getting a dog after losing a baby.  The whole issue of having a dog as a baby substitute and how that affected you and your relationship with the dog and any paranoia about the dog's health.  I wanted to comment, but after reading the other comments I did not.  My perspective about pets acting as a child substitute is so colored by my profession and my loss that I was afraid what I had to say would upset others.  I love my pets, I spend crazy money on them and deal with issues that most people would euthanize before even thinking about living with (a 65 pound fecally incontinent dog).  You know that I never thought that I would have children?  I was going to be this professional woman with dogs and kids held little interest to me.  Obviously that changed!  However my pets have always held a higher place in my life than many people's.  My DH used to tease that I loved my German Shepherd more than him, I told him that I had known her longer.  I used to worry that when my dog died I would need to be hospitalized from the grief, but I found out that there are wounds that cut so much deeper... losing my baby was so much more painful than losing my dog could ever be.

After Grace died I actually became a little intolerant of people grieving excessively over their pets.  Telling me during a euthanasia that this is worse than losing a child or like losing a child did not go over well.  I stayed closed lipped and maybe seemed closed off, but better that then scream at them that my baby is dead and your dog dying is nothing compared to the heart break I feel every day.  Fortunately that has gotten better with time.

I have not gotten any new pets since Grace died, I have lost one, my sweet cat Louie, but not added any.  I know that my Audrey dog is old, really old.  She will turn 15 at Christmas if she is still with us and her age is showing.  Her hips are shot, she has bad arthritis in both knees and now is limping on one of her front legs as well.  She has inflammatory bowel disease, low thyroid and dementia.  She poops in the house 3-4 times daily.  She licks her legs at night and the noise drives me crazy for some reason.  I cannot tell her to stop since she is almost completely deaf.  I worry about her quality of life.  I worry that I am keeping her alive for the wrong reasons.  However, she eats, pees outside, loves to bark when she is in the yard at people she sees walking by.  If she is awake she follows me every where I go, even if she struggles to get up.  She has been with me through my entire adult life, I was 22 when I got her.  She has been with me through vet school, my internship, my failed business partnership, my marriage, the death of Grace and now the pregnancy and birth of Rosabella.  I cannot imagine life without her, but I know that I will have to experience that soon.  I will grieve her when she is gone, but it will not hurt like losing my daughter.

I will probably get another dog after she is gone.  Our pit bull is turning 9 in the fall and we need a dog for Rosabella to grow up with.  I could not have even conceived of getting another pet after Grace died, I could barely care for the ones we had, but when our pets die I like to think that they go to wherever Grace is and that she can  play with them and be loved and protected by them.  Maybe that will help me when Audrey passes, knowing that my favorite dog, the dog of my young adult life will be watching over my lost baby, the way she watched over me all these years.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Few of My Favorite Things

This post is just regular Mom blog stuff.  I have been feeling pretty good and normal the last few days.  Grace is with me, I miss her, I always will, but Rosabella is the main focus of my days, and nights.  I have a living baby to care for and honestly this is what we have been hoping and praying for.  So here are some of the baby items we have been given or purchased that I absolute love!

1.  My Brest Friend Nursing pillow: This thing is fantastic, I mean I thought who needs a nursing pillow?  Then I tried one at my Lactation Consultants house and what a difference!  I mean the baby is positioned perfectly, no cramping arm and you can even go hands free and do something (like type on your blog) while nursing.

2. Baby Hawk: This baby carrier rocks, it looks cool, is easy to use and Rosabella loves riding in it.  It also keeps prying hands away from her when we are in public.

3. Aden and Anais blankets: These are muslin, but super soft and big enough to swaddle her for some time.  I love that they are not heavy since Rosabella often needs to be swaddled to get to sleep and it is HOT here.

4. Thirsties diaper covers: We have not had a single leak or blow out yet using these over pre-folds.  They have lots of fun colors and are so easy to clean (other than the white cover).

5. Snappis:  We love these, no diaper pins, easy to use and work so well

6.  My home-made hands free pumping bra.  Take an old sports bra, mark where your nipples are with a Sharpie marker, then cut small holes over the marks.  Your pump flanges fit through the holes and keep them firmly against your breast while you pump.

These are some of the services that I have used that I cannot recommend enough

1. Home visit by a lactation consultant.  Without our lac consultant I doubt that I would still be breast feeding, she made a huge difference.  I read on the Rookie Mom's blog that you should have a home visit set up with one before leaving the hospital.  I completely agree.  The consultants in the hospital just don't trouble shoot latch issues and nipple soreness like one doing home visits.

2. Doula.  She made labor so much easier.  I felt supported and safe and I could not imagine having an un-medicated birth without one.

3.  Placenta encapsulator:  We debated on whether to have my placenta encapsulated or not.  In the end I did not see a down side, but now I am a huge advocate.  I really was close to having some PPD and I believe that the placenta capsules helped balance my hormones and bring me back from the edge.

4. Diaper service.  We will eventually launder our own cloth diapers, but this was a gift from my Dad, and wow how nice it is to just put out the diapers every week and then wake up the next morning to a bag of clean diapers.  Love it.

That is all for now.... and to end a cute picture of my second girl, the light of my life, who lives and breathes and reminds us daily that life can still be good, even when crap things happen to you (like your beautiful first born dying).

Nap time with Rosabella and Banksy

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Rosabella Grace's Birth Story

I cannot believe that my little Baby Bear has been here for more than 3 weeks already.  The time is flying by and not moving all at the same time.  I want to remember all these beautiful moments and forget about the fatigue and sore nipples!  But first and foremost I want to record the story of how I brought my second child into this world...

I worked on Tuesday May 21st as usual.  It was not a hard shift, I had a few surgeries and some regular appointments, but nothing excessive.  I was tired and having on and off contractions, not Braxton hicks, but the real deal.  Between surgeries I told my Office Manager, Michelle, that I was not sure that I was going to make it another 2 weeks when my maternity leave officially started.  She asked if I needed to go home and I told her no I was just having contractions and was tired.  I finished the shift and told every one that I would see them the next day.  I went home and was tired, we ate dinner (frozen pizza with added toppings, oddly the same dinner we had before going to the hospital to find out that Grace had died).  I did not eat dessert, which was strange since I had been doing so for the last few weeks.  We went to bed around 8:30 pm, again pretty typical for us, since Mark gets up at 5 am for work and I get up 3-4 times per night to use the bathroom.  I got up at 10 pm and midnight, nothing unusual there, but when I woke up at 3:30 am I felt this great urgency to go to the bathroom.  I jumped out of bed (well as much as you can when 37 weeks pregnant) and while rushing to the toilet I felt a gush of liquid down my legs and onto the floor.  I told Mark "Oh crap, I think I just wet the bed!"  Then when I wiped after using the toilet I noticed blood tinged mucous.  I started to get worried and Mark asked if my water had broken?  He then being the good husband that he is smelled the wet spot on the sheets that I had left to see if it smelled like urine.  When it did not and I continued to have a slow trickle of fluid down my leg we decided to get some advice.  We called the hospital and spoke with a triage nurse.  She said that it was impossible to say if I had wet the bed or my water had broken, but recommended that we come down to get checked out.  I had my hospital bags packed and ready, but Mark, despite my nagging did not have his even close to complete.  I got dressed and let the dogs out to go potty while he packed and then showered.  I was getting more and more anxious and kept doing kick counts to make sure that Baby Bear was okay.  We finally got all our bags into the car and were off to the hospital.  We got there and were checked in pretty quickly since I had just been in for an NST.  They tried to put us in triage room 2, but I refused since that is where I found out that Grace had died.  The nurses were understanding and put me in triage room 1 instead.  All during the drive to the hospital and while in admitting I could feel Bear moving and was having infrequent contractions.  Once in the triage room they asked me to change into a hospital gown and as I stood up a huge gush of fluid wet my pants and the nurse said "Well I am pretty sure your water broke at home."  I got hooked up to the fetal monitor and Bear was doing great and then the contraction monitor.  I got the lovely cervical exam and my cervix was soft, and 4 cm dilated.  Bear was ballotable, meaning that her head was not firmly affixed to my cervix.  We were told they only had one open bed in Labor and Delivery and they asked if there was room I would not use.  I told them that I refused to use room 10, and luckily room 6 was the one that was available.

Then hospital time set in, the hour to get the room ready stretched into 5 hours in triage.  At 5:30 am we called our doula, my parents and our respective work places to let them know we would not be in.  Mark did some sketches of me, since he promised to do some pregnancy drawings and had never gotten around to it.  I was starting to worry about the delivery, something that I had thought very little about.  We made some arrangements to have the cats fed, the dogs let out again and the dogs medicated.  I asked if I could order breakfast once in my real room and was told I was not allowed to eat!  Yikes, I really wish I had dessert last night.

Finally we were able to get into our real delivery room.  As we were getting settled I met our delivery nurse.  She said that she had spoken to our OB and he had seen my contraction monitor and he wanted to start some pitocin since my labor was not active.  I told her that I wanted a natural childbirth and would like to wait before starting interventions.  She said that she would let me go for a walk and see if we could get things started.  My parents and my doula arrived all around now.  The nurse was showing us the options on the TV in the room, Mark immediately asked if they got the NBC Sports network since there was a Penguins game that night.  Before he could even finish asking the question she said "No we do not get ESPN!"  After the TV tutorial I walked in the garden for 30 minutes, I had to go off monitor since the telemetry unit was in use with another labor.  She checked me when we got back inside, I was now 5 cm, and Bear's head was affixed, but my contractions were still only every 8-10 minutes and mild.  My doula suggested some nipple stimulation to try and get some natural oxytocin going which I did for 30 minutes, to no effect.  I took a shower to see if that would help and then we tried some other labor positions, using a peanut ball.  I went for another walk, but my contractions were strong enough that I did not feel comfortable off monitor.  At around 3 pm my OB came in, he checked my cervix it was 6 cm and 90% effaced, he tried some digital dilation of my cervix (yikes did that hurt).  He said that it was time to start pitocin and I consented.  They started the IV drip and my contractions picked up frequency and strength in 30 minutes.  Bear had been doing so well, but she started to have some heart rate decellerations during contractions.  They upped the pitocin and things really got moving.  I was doing well through the contractions, using relaxation techniques from hypnotherapy and yoga.  My doula told me to relax into my bottom and to be soft.  The contractions were getting more and more uncomfortable and frequent.  Mark was kind of oblivious, we kept having visitors and finally my nurse and Rose (my doula) were sending people away.  I was no longer able to talk through contractions and I knew that I could not take a whole lot more.  My parents were in the room, but not really talking or doing anything.  At one point they looked like they were really bored and at a movie.  At just before 5 pm transitional labor started.  The contractions were painful and intense and frequent.  Rose held my hand and told me to let go of the pain, and be in that moment and then to let it go.  They started me on oxygen since Bear was starting to get pretty stressed during contractions.  They sent my parents out of the room and got the delivery table ready.  I was told my OB was in the building and it was going to be soon.  I looked at the clock and knew that I could not take the pain for much longer I figured I could go until 5:30 pm, but after that I could not keep going.  I told everyone that I did not want to do this anymore, they laughed since what were my options?

Then the nurse said I was 10 cm and it was time to start pushing.  I was bewildered, since with Grace I felt the need to push, but this time I felt nothing like that, just the pain of the contractions.  I started to push, but my efforts were not effective and I was not making much progress.  The nurse and Rose and Mark were all coaching me and I was trying so hard, but I was so tired.  I would start pushing and just end up screaming from pain and frustration.  At one point the nurse asked if I wanted to scream all day or have this baby.  I really bared down and pushed as hard as I could, Mark told me that he could see Rosabella's head, that she was almost here.  They put the O2 mask on me again, I was so out of it with exhaustion and pain I did not even know why.  I asked if the baby was okay and they just told me I had to push her out.  I pushed again and her head came out more, and then again and her head was out, her shoulders were trapped and our OB had to manipulate her, but then with one more big push she was born.  I wish that I could tell you I heard her cry and felt safe, but I was so tired it was like everything down there was happening to someone else.  Dr Tutt allowed her cord to stop pulsing and then clamped it.  Then they laid her on my chest.  She was so big and pink and beautiful.  She looked at me and cried and I spoke to her and she quieted, she knew me and knew my voice.  She was here and so lovely.

I delivered her placenta and then Dr Tutt started to suture me up.  The nurse took Rosabella for her measurements and to examine her and apply her eye ointment and give her an injection of Vitamin K.  She was wrapped up and given back to me.  Mark was by my side and we cried with joy and amazement.  Our girl was here, alive and perfect.  Grace was with us in spirit, and Rosabella was safe.  We did it.  I did it.  My family was allowed back in and they held her and wondered at her.  So much healing happened in that hour.

Walking during labor

On O2 during transitional labor

Placing Rosabella on my chest

First look

Our Family on Earth

Our family with Dr Tutt

We did it!

Diagnosis: Resolved Failure to Thrive

So we finally had a good pediatrician appointment yesterday, Rosabella gained 7 oz in 4 days!  So she is now 7 lbs 5 oz, and only 5 oz less than her birth weight.  I do think that she had a growth spurt the last few days, she has been wanting to nurse hourly, which has taken it's toll on my nipples!  Thanks Em for the advice about the lanolin and cling wrap, it is saving my ta tas!  The pediatrician said that we could stop the formula supplementation and then we weigh her next week to see if she is continuing to grow on my breast milk alone.  We were a little tentative about cold turkey stopping especially since she has been feeding so much the last few days, so we decided to offer her a bottle if she has nursed for a long time and still seems hungry until this growth spurt is over.  If she is satisfied after a feeding then no bottle.  We feel a little more relaxed knowing that if she takes in enough calories that she can grow, although I am still sad that my breast milk alone could not accomplish that.  We will keep working towards our goal of exclusive breast feeding.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Who to believe?

Well I have to say that I am feeling better.  Our little girl loves to sleep and so getting 3 hours in a row once, sometimes even twice a night is very possible.  This also leads me to worry that she sleeps too much... I guess sometimes you cannot win :).  I took Rosabella to the Lactation Consultant on Saturday to weigh her, she was down about an once from the pediatricians office.  However she was not concerned at all, she said that she looked perfect: no dehydration, pink, alert, responsive etc.  She said that babies gain at their own rate and not to worry.  She said that Pediatricians want fat babies and push Moms to over feed to meet this 1 oz per day of weight gain and then spend the rest of the kids life trying to battle childhood obesity.  She said that I have plenty of milk and there is no need to supplement with formula.  So who to believe?  I have to say that before I had fertility issues and then lost Grace I considered myself pretty mainstream medically, but I have come to learn that I don't think doctors know all that much and that they rely so much on statistics and don't look at the patient.  I still have concerns about who to believe my pediatrician or my lactation specialist, but I lean heavily towards the lactation consultant, because what she says sounds more reasonable, but then I worry that I am disregarding mainstream medical opinion completely.

Then a little after I wrote the first paragraph our weight check with the pediatrician, she is down to 6 lbs 14 oz, despite our marathon of nursing for the last 3 days.  I am discouraged and worried.  He says that we should start giving 1 oz of formula after every time she nurses and then we check her weight again on Friday, if still no gain then blood tests and other diagnostics (stool examinations etc).  I feel such a sense of defeat now, whereas when I leave the lactation consultant I feel uplifted and capable.  I guess that I would like to just keep nursing and add in a pumped bottle daily, but my DH is too worried and wants to start the formula supplementation.  Honestly I will try the mainstream way for this week, it is not intended to be permanent,  but I am not happy about it.  It feels awful like I am force feeding her this mass produced fake food, instead of what nature intended.  I also know that supplementing with formula statistically decreases the chances of long term breast feeding success.  I know that I should just be happy that she is here, would I care if Grace had been fed formula or at the breast if it meant I got to keep her?

To end on a lighter note here is one of the pictures from Rosabella's newborn photo shot from a few weeks ago.

Sisterhood - Grace and Rosabella together

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Due Date

Yesterday was Rosabella's due date, and I had a horrible morning that I wrote about here.  The rest of the day was calmer.  I was calmer.  We focused on feeding her every 2-3 hours and monitored her wet diapers closely.  She ate 8 times and wet 6 diapers.  All normal.  I was amazed and how much a part of our lives she is and how I could not imagine that she was supposed to be born yesterday, not with us for over two weeks already!  If she could just gain some more weight...

Last night was limited on sleep and she has not had a really wet diaper yet causing me to go into panic mode.  I keep trying to remind myself that babies are pretty strong, especially my girl and I need to have faith in her and in myself.  It is hard.  I did some reading on PPD yesterday and I think that I likely just have the baby blues, but mixed with my anxiety about Rosabella and all the grief that keeps resurfacing about Grace I am kind of a mess.  I am trying to get out of the house at least once a day, it seems to improve my mood.  Yesterday we went as a family to Starbucks to buy coffee for the DH (none for me and baby!).  Today we go to my work to show her off and pick up dog and cat food.  I also need to call the lactation consultant and see if we can get Rosabella on a weighing schedule.  I would like to have her weighed at least twice a week and I feel more confident in the LC's scale than the pediatricians office.

I also joined a Facebook group yesterday of local nursing Moms.  They have a meet up twice a month and I would like to start going.  The more I connect with breastfeeding Moms, the more Rosabella seems normal.  So many do not grow as formula fed babies do.  Does this mean that we need two growth charts: one for formula fed and one for breast fed?  It is hard enough to breast feed and then feel like you are not giving your baby adequate nutrition.

I have also not written Rosabella's birth story yet.  I came home from the hospital without Grace and started writing like a mad woman, like if I did not get it down on paper the few precious memories that I had of her would disappear and I would have nothing.  With Rosabella I am so consumed with other issues I have not had time to write and then since I am emotionally low at the moment I don't want that tint on what was an amazing and beautiful experience.  I promise that I will start working on it soon to share.

Well it has been 3 hours since her last feeding and she is still sleeping so time to wake up my girl and make her MAD.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Doubt

I have to admit that I have not been coping very well with being a mom to a newborn.  I am stressed and anxious and cry frequently.  I feel isolated and alone even though my DH is here with me.  I suspect that I am having some post partum depression, but lack the motivation to do anything about it.  Rosabella seems fine, but is still way off her birth weight, at just under 7 lbs.  The pediatrician wants to weight her again Monday and if she has not gained 1 oz per day then he is talking about further testing for failure to thrive.  I am a wreck about this.  I nurse her round the clock, my breasts hurt, my nipples hurt and still she does not gain the way she should.  I feel like such a failure, like I am going to lose her, they are going to find something wrong with her and I will lose another baby...  I am overwhelmed.  I am really thinking about giving up on breast feeding, I am not sure I can emotionally handle it and it does not seem like Rosabella is doing well with my milk.  I am so scared.  I know how to be pregnant and how to give birth, but I don't know how to get my baby to thrive.  FAILURE to thrive.  God I hate that phrase,  I just need to know that she is going to be okay.  Grace please keep watching over us and protect your sister.  I cannot lose another baby.  I cannot fail at this.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Her Perfect Skin

I have been having a lot of emotional breakdowns recently.  These first 11 days with Rosabella have been a roller coaster of emotions.  Joy, wonder, amazement, but also bone chilling fear, anxiety, inadequacy, failure and sorrow.  When I look at Rosabella she looks so much like Grace it stops my heart.  Holding her reminds me of the weight of Grace in my arms.  Sometimes when I look at Rosabella when she is sleeping she looks dead like her sister.  The difference is her skin.  Rosabella's skin is smooth and perfect and pink, with no tears or wounds.  Grace's was blue and bruised and torn.  The pictures that I share of her have been photo shopped to hide these imperfections, the signs that her sweet body was breaking down inside me while waiting to be born.  I have cried over those wounds, those signs that she was gone, that she had been hurt.  My perfect sweet Rosabella, and my darling Grace with her imperfect body and perfect soul.  How I wish I could have both my girls in my arms tonight and every night.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Baby Whisperer

So we had our lactation consult yesterday.  Doris is in her 60's a Grandmother and has 30 years experience as a lactation consultant.  Rosabella did her red devil baby routine, and she just swaddled her up and got her latched on my breast in no time at all.  We then switched sides and again no issues.  Like Rosabella knew this person was not going to take any silliness and she needed to get down to business.  After she left we had several more good feeds, until late last night when all the techniques were not working, maybe she was not hungry, but we couldn't tell.  Then a good feed at 6 am, but a bad one at 8:30 am.  Mark is rocking her right now.  Wow this is HARD.  Worth everything of course, but I feel like I am in way over my head.  We will keep trying and keep working to learn what she needs.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The womanly art of breastfeeding?

The first week with Rosabella has flown by.  She is amazing.  So beautiful, so perfect, so MINE.  I made her and now here she is her own little person.  I see Grace in her so often, and it makes me feel like Grace is here with us again.  However, not all is sunshine and roses.  There have been panic attacks, crying jags, flares of anger at my husband, the animals, friends, the world etc.  I have felt off kilter and afraid and just plain sad sometimes.

My biggest source of anxiety has been oddly enough breastfeeding.  Something that I thought would be so simple and natural has turned my world on it's ear and scared me to death.  At first I had crazy bad nipple sensitivity, literally toe curing pain when she would latch, or attempt to latch on, then constant pain while she nursed.  Then my nipples cracked, even more pain with a bad latch.  Then I became terrified to let her latch.  Then she realized that I was anxious and she became anxious.  Also the hospital wanted me feeding her every 2-3 hours, but she would be asleep and I would spend an hour waking her up to eat.  I gave up that since it was impossible to wake her up anyway and I would not get any rest at all.  Then I was waiting for her feeding cues, rooting in her sleep, opening her mouth like a baby bird etc.  However she would go from these cues to screaming with hunger in literally seconds.  She would then flail her arms, hit me in the sore nipples and not even try to latch when I would get the courage up to put my nipple in her mouth.  My DH would have to hold her arms and I would have to shove my nipple in her mouth and wait until the screaming stopped and she would try to nurse.  This could take 30 minutes or more of trying with my anxiety getting worse every minute.  We called her "red devil baby" and when she would have a bad latch, she would sometimes have my blood on her lips further adding to the devilish effect.  The whole process left me exhausted, sad and worried.  It was taking 2 hours for a feeding and she was wasting so much energy that she would then not be able to nurse long before falling asleep.

Then our first pediatrician visit.  I am terrified that they will find something wrong with her, that I am not feeding her enough, caring for her enough, that my babies die and I am doing something wrong.  Rosabella is well, but she lost 14% of her body weight, so she was not getting enough calories.  He says to pump my milk and feed her 2 oz every 2-3 hours, supplementing with formula if I do not have enough.  I was devestated to think that I would not be able to completely breast feed my baby, worried about my milk production, etc.  I was also relieved to feed her from a bottle and have her eat and be happy and not screaming and biting and just.... well just happy.  I guess I am not very good at this womanly art, and it has been really hard on me.  I have been feeding her any expressed breast milk that I have: usually 1 to 1.25 oz, then try to get her to latch on and nurse, if I can let her nurse as long as she would like, then offer 1-2 oz of formula, then pump each breast for 20 minutes.  I am exhausted.  I have been reaching out for support since Tuesday and finally starting to get some. My doula came by last night to help me get her latched on, she referred me to a lactation consultant, who will be at my house tomorrow at 9 am, I have started Fenugreek capsules to boost my milk production etc.

I know that babies can be raised on formula and be healthy, but I really believe that breast milk is significantly better than formula and part of my dream of motherhood involves breast feeding.  I have some good support and I know that I can do this.  Of course talk tp me at 4 am, when she is screaming and won't latch and I am crying and you will get a different answer.  I love this little girl so much, even when she is screaming, she is my girl and I love her completely.
At the pediatrician we found out that she had lost 14% of her birth weight, too much for a healthy baby.  We talked about out breast feeding issues and he recommended that we supplement with some formula.  He felt that she was not getting enough calories and then would not rouse when she was starting to get hungry and would only wake when she was completely starving.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Rosabella Grace is Here!!!!

Baby Bear, now called Rosabella Grace, arrived May 22, 2013 at 5:56 pm, crying and perfect.  She was 7 lbs 10 oz at birth and 20 inches long.  My beautiful baby overwhelms me with emotions: love, wonder, gratitude, fear, but mostly love, pure deep baby love.  It is our first night home, and I want to write more, and will later and with pictures!  Love to you all for all the support you have given me.  I know that Grace was watching over us the entire time, my love for her is ever expanding, just as it is for her baby sister.

Snoozing with Dad

Just finished eating

Two minutes old

Monday, May 20, 2013

Hibernation

I am getting the feeling that these last few weeks of Bear's pregnancy are going to be really hard.  I feel like I am on the edge of a break down all the time.  Everything makes me want to rage or cry or just be unhappy.  Our friends are pissing me off, my FIL is pissing me off, my closet is pissing me off.  I want to go into seclusion until she is home and safe and we are all doing well.

I have been fussing around the house trying to make everything perfect for her, like if everything is perfect then she will live and get to come home with us.  But then that brings on strife with my husband.  All the accommodations that need to be made seem to be on me.  I lost 1/4 of my side of the closet for a file cabinet that was in Bear's room, but obviously could not stay there.  He wants to put tons of his stuff in there, but it takes up my side of the closet.  He also has complete use of the closet in the guest bedroom, so it is not like he is wanting for storage space.  I asked him to get rid of some things to make room and it is like I am asking him to cut off a limb.  So today I am going through stuff and getting rid of a ton of things, some mine, some his to just feel free of these possessions.  They hold you down and I don't want to be held down by anything.

I also just miss Grace so much.  I see pictures of her and I just cry and want her here in my arms so badly.  The grief mixed with the overwhelming fear that it could happen again are just wearing me down.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Scare at the OB's Office

I had a completely terrifying OB appointment yesterday. Bear was moving up a storm and I thought that was a good thing, but her heart rate was too high at 180. Her ultrasound was normal, my blood pressure was improved from last week (112/84), UA normal, but because she had a high heart rate we had to go to triage at the hospital for an NST. Our OB said that this was just protocol and that she was moving and active and looking great. However it was the first time we had been back to the hospital since Grace died. I drive by it every day I work, but I have not set one foot in the building (I had my OB take the donations we made for other BLMs). I was in the same admitting room (they only have 2), thank god I was not in the same triage room for the NST. We listened to her heart for 45 minutes, it sounded so fast the whole time as she was moving NON-STOP. I was begging her to calm down for a little while and let her heart rest. We were so afraid that this was it, she was in distress and we would lose her. I honestly almost wished for a C section so that she could be out and monitored even more. After the 45 minutes were up, our OB came in, she passed. Her heart rates were at the high end of normal, but still in the normal range (180 was her absolute high,her low 150). She had great movement and good accelerations and decelerations. We were sent home. I had a chiropractor appointment afterwards which I went to (the hospital bed and stress did a number on my mid back and I already had the appointment scheduled). She said that the baby was in a strange position (head down, face turned to my right hip) and she thinks that maybe she got into this weird position and panicked a little bit. All I know is that it was a LONG evening. She is moving good now, not crazy baby, but back to normal. I am glad that we went for the test and that she was okay, but can I take up to 5 more weeks of this?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Almost there

Survived another Mother's Day.  I got a 2 phone calls and an e-mail from 2 friends acknowledging me as a mother which was nice.

I am kind of obsessing about the house now.  I keep working in the nursery, but it never seems quite done.  I want the whole house to be ready for Bear.  Like if everything is perfect then she will come home with us.  I know that I am being silly and superstitious, but honestly that is kind of all we have.  I do kick counts almost hourly when I am awake and I do one before I go back to sleep every time I get up to use the restroom during the night (4 times on average).  I know that I am doing everything that I can, but I just need her to come home so badly.

Last night my FIL, the jerk called.  Not to wish us a happy Mother's Day, just to ask if we are getting anxious about the baby.  WTF, of course we are anxious, we HAVE been anxious.  Then he criticized the name we have picked for our girl.  The DH has a new name for him, Steamer (when he is acting like a steaming pile of dog poo).  We love the name we have picked for her and I could give a flying fig if he does not like it.  I know that he is not worth my ire, he is not a normal person and he acts poorly, I just hope he never says stuff like this around Bear and hurts her self esteem.  Then he will meet Mama Bear and he had better take cover!

Here is a pregnancy photo from a few weeks ago, I look HUGE, but it was a happy moment!


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day #2

So this is my second Mother's Day as a Mother.  It is better than last year, but the missing of my first born just echoes inside me today.  There should be a little 15 month old toddling around for me to hold and kiss and love, as well as a baby about to be born.  Baby Bear does help so much to take the soul shattering sorrow out of the day, but she is not Grace and I want BOTH.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Caption all photos please

As many of you know I am the responsible person for my Grandmother with Alzheimer's disease.  She turned 88 on Sunday and we had clown cones with her.  She loves chocolate ice cream and asked about the baby and generally had a very nice time.  Such a difference from last year, when she was strong enough that we took her out for hamburgers and root beer floats.  I always want to make it a nice birthday since I am painfully aware it could be her last with us.  Caring for her in her later years has been hard, choosing the right assisted living and then memory care facilities, watching the Alzheimer's steal so much from her, watching her body deteriorate with the ravages of time.  However it has also been the greatest gift I could ever give her and I am proud and honored to be able to do all the things I do for her.

My Grandmother was a bit of a hoarder.  She liked to shop, at dollar stores and the like, and HATED to throw anything away.  I have literally spent years getting rid of what to her were treasures and what to most of us was junk.  She also collected nurse figurines, dolls and stuffed animals.  She has probably 800-1000.  She loved photographs and always got doubles, or triples of any roll of film she had developed.  She then would get dozens of reprints of favorites.  The vast majority of these pictures are not captioned.  None are organized, they are just in box after box in my garage with the nurse collection.  I have spent the last year slowly sorting her pictures, throwing away the myriad of duplicates, throwing away hopelessly damaged pictures, ones where I could not identify a single person as a family member and finally hundreds of pictures of flowers, snow storms, the same crab apple tree flowering year after year.  It was hard and sad at first and by the end I just wanted it DONE.  Two weeks ago I thought I was at the finish line, I had sorted all the boxes of pictures and organized them into one storage box.  The box was then subdivided into folders of who was the main subject of the picture.  I felt so accomplished.  I knew there will still likely doubles or triples in there, but I could enlist the folder's person to help sort and it was manageable.  Then we finally had our doll sale.

We have been trying to have a yard sale to sell some of the nurse collection for the past year, but something had always come up.  Finally this Saturday we did it.  We did not sell that many items, but we sold some and were able to consolidate the collection from 15 boxes down to 10.  It was nice to see people enjoying looking through the nurses and laughing at the funny ones and genuinely having fun with them.  My Grandmother loved them so, looking for them, buying them and then decorating every room of her house with them.  Over the years they have become more of a burden to me and I have stopped seeing the joy in them.  I got some of that back Saturday.  Except when we were getting the boxes of nurses out to put on display in the driveway I discovered, to my great horror, that 3 of the boxes I thought had nurses had more pictures in them!  I felt so deflated, the never ending project was seriously never ending.

For any of you with older relatives with boxes and boxes of pictures here are my suggestions: sit down with your older person and start to sort the pictures while they are alive and not senile.  I should have started this with my Grandmother when she could remember more, now I am on my own and it is really hard.  Suggestion number two: caption and sort all the pictures you are taking so that no one has to do this for you in 50 or 60 years.  Be selective about what you keep, even though with todays digital pictures you have like a million on your hard drive, none of us needs 300 pictures of our cat, or photos of every snow storm to hit our town, or pictures of every flower that ever bloomed in our garden.  Pictures of family, especially kids and babies are the exception, but still CAPTION them!

Two more boxes to go through, then really organizing the photos in them..... Bear maybe in college before I am done with this project.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Changes all around

Today I am 34 weeks, 2 more weeks than I have ever been pregnant before.  Little Bear is active and moving and wonderful, I am puffy and swollen and have acid reflux a good portion of the time, but these little troubles are a small, small price to pay for getting to be pregnant again.  We are nesting and getting ready for her to come into our lives.  I am reading books on baby care and development, we are trying to make appointments to get car seats installed, I need to inventory the freezer one last time and see what meals I should make and freeze, we are having  a yard sale tomorrow to sell some of my Grandmother's nurse collection to make room in the garage.  Six more weeks to go and I want to be as ready as possible (although I know that bringing her home will feel like flying without a net no matter what I do or read now).

So many changes, good changes, I am happy.

However work is a dark storm cloud on my sunny outlook.  They fired my good friend a month ago, the woman who planned Grace's baby shower that had to be canceled and the one of planned and co-hosted Bear's.  She is an excellent doctor and a good person and letting her go was bull sh#t.  Then my schedule was completely changed, twice, for the month of May to accommodate the new doctor who starts Monday.  Now yesterday another doctor showed up for an interview at the clinic.  We don't have any open positions unless they are letting me go.  This was our first clue that my friend's job was in trouble, when doctors came to interview.  I have worked for this company for 8 years.  I have had one raise in that time.  I get 12 paid days off per year.  I am not provided with health insurance, I don't get a Christmas bonus.  If one of my 6 paid holidays falls on a day that I am not scheduled to work, I do not get another day off to compensate or any additional pay.  I point blank asked my boss after they fired my friend if they were planning on making any other staffing changes and he said no.  I suspect that he was dishonest with me.  Since my DH is taking early retirement our ability to pay our bills is completely dependent on my income.  I am scared, but mostly annoyed that after so many years I am looking over my shoulder waiting to lose my job.  There are not that many jobs in my field, the economy has hit my industry hard like so many others.  I know that I am good at what I do, but finding a new job could take time.

Oh well, maybe it is time for a change in that part of my life too.  Honestly as long as we have Bear I think I can make it through anything else.  Hang in there baby only 5-7 more weeks to go!

My girls... together.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Belly Shoot

I had my maternity photo shoot Wednesday this week.  I was worried that the pictures would not turn out, mostly because I weigh so much more than I ever have!  I realized that I weight 75 lbs more than I did my freshman year in college, ugh.  I know that I did not weigh enough then and now I am healthier and 33 weeks pregnant, but body image is a tricky thing.  Our photographer posted some preview shots on her blog and I think they look great, and so does Mark.  I hope to see the rest of them in a few weeks when she sends us our cd.  We had some photos taken with Grace Bear since that was the only way we could get a sisters picture.  I cried a little as we told her about Grace so she could honor the Bear the way she needs to be, after all my baby's urn is there.  She told us that she lost a son 10 years ago.  BLMs we ware every where.

Here is a link to some of our photos:  http://saracoralphotography.blogspot.com/2013/04/mark-amanda-az-maternity-photographer.html


33 weeks, only 5-7 more to go.  Baby Bear keep growing girl!  Mommy loves you so much.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Bear's Baby Shower

It has been a crazy week of ups and downs and fear and joy and hope.  After 31 weeks and 5 days came and went with this pregnancy, the clouds broke a little and let some light in.  On day 32 Bear did not wake up when she normally does and I had a crap first morning kick count.  I was starting to completely freak out: I drank the damn cold juice, laid on my left side, rubbed and shook my belly and prayed to any god or spirit or deity that would listen.  I prayed to Grace.  I was getting ready to head to the hospital for that dreaded check.  Then finally Bear woke up and started her morning kicks and rolls, just an hour behind schedule.  I cried some more, made lunch, ate breakfast and went to work.

This weekend was Bear's baby shower, which I was kind of looking forward to.  We had started to get gifts in the mail last week and seeing all the items I picked out coming to life was making bringing a baby home seem more real.  Saturday was also the 1 year anniversary of Grace's EDD.  We did not commemorate it in any way.  We knew that was the date, but her month is February not some date that a calculation predicted she would be born on.  However the day of the shower I got very panicked and emotional.  This should have been a day that we got to have for Grace.  Many of the items on the registry I had originally picked out for Grace.  This was just another milestone we missed with our first born girl.  I missed her, I missed what should have been and I was so terrified that if Bear died now we would have so many more physical reminders of what we lost.

I  pulled myself together and got dressed, the DH and I headed out to our friend's house where the shower was and put on our happy faces.  So many friends, family and co-workers were there.  Bear got so many gifts (seriously I think this kid has more clothes than I do right now).  A co-worked handmade a beautiful baby blanket and booties for her.  Another made a cake in our nursery theme (down to fondant forest animals).  I was overwhelmed by the generosity of the people we know.  Bear is such a lucky girl, and so is her Mom.  I am lucky to have her, lucky to have such nice people in our lives, and if the universe is at all just hopefully I will be lucky enough to bring her into this world alive in 2 short months.  I am not healed from Grace, last week was a startling reminder of how much healing there is still to be done, but this week I feel stronger for my second daughter, who I love just as much as my first.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The broken me inside

It has been such a hard couple of days.  I have been spiraling down into a depression and have not been  there for my baby as I should be.  I want things to be different.  I want so badly to be a good mother to this baby, but I feel like I am failing already.  My grief for Grace and the life I should have had with her, overwhelms everything.  My therapist says that I need to put my grief away and focus on Bear.  I need to visualize the wounded, broken me inside as a separate person and the capable, strong me as moving forward and caring for the broken me.  I am trying, but it is so hard.  The strong, capable me is tired of being present for so many people, my family, my clients, my co-workers, my pets... The broken me just wants to sleep and cry and wail for Grace and just stop the world from turning, she is sick and needs time to heal.  How can I give her the time that she needs and still be a good mother to my new baby?

I am so grateful for Bear, I am so glad  that she is here, but for the first time I wish that I could have not gotten pregnant again so quickly.  I wish that I could have dealt more with my grief so that I could be stronger and better for this baby.  At the time getting pregnant again seemed like the only thing that would stop the horrid emptiness from losing Grace.  I thought that I would get the joyous feeling of that first pregnancy back again, the wonder and amazement, but with a happy ending instead of my baby dying.  And for the first 7 months it was kind of like that, but with so much worry about her.  Now everything is just such a mess.  Of course I still love Bear, I want her to keep growing and be healthy, but I want to be happier about it.  I don't want this dark cloud of grief hanging over me.  I want the joy of Grace's pregnancy.  I want to live in a world where babies don't die in the third trimester.  I want the sick me to be healthy again.

I see the sick, broken me as the way I was when I was 18 or 19 years old.  I was struggling at the time, emotionally.  I had left college after the first semester, I was living at home again, in a relationship that needed to end and my dreams for the future were all on hold.  I weighed only 95 lbs, which at 5'8" is not a great look.  I had so much ahead of me, but it all seemed to be slipping away.  I see that thin, depressed, broken version of myself as the part that grieves Grace and the life we should have had.  She is taking over everything and I need her to let the rest of me care for and love Bear with the same whole, open heart I had for Grace.

Why was this so much easier last week?  Will it be better next week?  Can I be the mother that Bear deserves?

Monday, April 8, 2013

On the Edge

I have been having a really hard time lately.  This is the week of pregnancy when Grace died and I am just a mess.  I have been crying often, my mood is black most of the time and I am quick to anger.  I am expecting Bear to die at any time and then upset that she gets to love longer than Grace did.  Why did Grace have to die?  Is this all the time I will get to have with my second daughter?  Why can't my husband understand how hard this is for me?  Why is he such a jerk lately?  I need him to completely be there for me even with my crappy moods and tears.

Right now I yelled at him when I got home, he did not ask me how my day was, there was no dinner even planned much less ready when I got home and then I asked him about one of our dogs and he was a jerk.  This dog has been vomiting lately.  I think she is eating stuff in the back yard, since she still eats her dinner and never vomits that.  I even took her to work last week and took an X ray which was normal.  I just asked if she vomited today and he said yes, and I asked it it was on our comforter (like last time) he said no since I did not make the bed this morning.  Then I blew up at him, I make the bed every morning and the damn dog digs at the blankets and unmakes it.  It drives me nuts and now I am getting blamed for his stupid dog?  He never finished the laundry from yesterday it is draped all over the house since he can't fold the damn clothes.  There are messages on the machine that he checked and did not do anything about.  I am at my wits end and now he went to sleep in the guest room since his feelings are hurt and I am left to cook my own dinner after an 11 hour shift, feed the dogs and the cats and do all the night time chores.

ARGHHHHHHHHHH

Then I am reading the pregnancy thread I am a part of on a baby loss website and one of the mamas has a dangerously shortening cervix and doctors that won't do anything, and another just lost her rainbow for unknown reasons at 15 weeks.  My baby is alive, but I can't be happy about it right now, while all these other lovely women are losing their babies or their babies are in serious trouble, and I am just barely holding it together.

I feel like I am going crazy, my emotions are all over the place and I am losing it.  I am having all these body issues and fears about breastfeeding and caring for a newborn.  I was so prepared for Grace and then she died.  I am even more prepared for this baby and I could still bring home an urn and not a living baby.  Then if I do bring home a baby will I know how to take care of her?  Every option is terrifying and I am so unsure and unhappy.  Nothing comforts me, not the baby moving, but then when she doesn't move I am even worse.  God it is too much, it is all too much.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Deja Vu

I have been here before.  29 weeks pregnant preparing to have a beautiful baby girl come into my life fully and change EVERYTHING.  It still doesn't seem real, after all the years of infertility, that I could be this pregnant.  Sometimes I think that Grace dying was just a bad dream, see I am in my third trimester, my baby is not gone!  But it is not the same baby.  This deja vu is a real trip.  Then the crushing reality that my baby Grace is still gone, and the baby that kicks me and charms me is her little sister.  Then the horrific thought that something could still happen to this baby.  I could lose another little girl.  That my life would still not have a living, breathing, crying, pooping, nursing, cooing baby in it.  I try to think positive.  I try to remember the odds that this could happen again are small, that this baby is strong.  We were talking about interventions at childbirth class today.  I just kept telling myself that my birth will be fine and my baby won't need any of these things.  I hope and pray that is true.  I hope that I can make good decisions for her in the face of paralyzing fear that she could die.  Eleven more weeks to go, maybe twelve depending on when she is ready to be born.  I can do this, we can do this.  Bear's story will be different from Grace's.  They are sisters, but not the same.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Escape from the NSTs

We had our monthly OB appointment today.  It was good, despite all my worry my blood pressure was normal and my swollen feet were just normal pregnancy stuff.  We talked about whether to pursue NSTs or not.  I was reluctant to have them, but wanted to know that if anything happened to Bear I had done all I could to save her.  The specialist said that they were highly unlikely to find a cord accident, so even if we had them with Grace we would not have been able to save her.  I finally decided last week that I would have them done and tried to schedule them with the perinatologist, but I did not have the right kind of referral (damn referrals and high risk pregnancy clinics!).  My OB said that there were several ways to measure fetal well being and suggested that we just start to some in for weekly appointments and U/S with him starting at 31 weeks, they could measure Bear's heart rate, amount of amniotic fluid etc and if anything looked off we are literally down the street from the hospital and the perinatology clinic.  This sounds like a good compromise to me, I get to be at the office I know, where the staff knows me and Bear is getting monitoring that is just as likely (perhaps even more so) to find any issues.  No more than 13 weeks to go!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Anxiety creeping into my daily life

I officially entered the third trimester Friday and the anxiety about this baby dying just jumped into the forefront of my world.  I do kick counts obsessively.  I have started some hypnobabies affirmations trying to deal with the anxiety.  I am also just trying to take everything one moment at a time.

As a fun side note, my ankles and feet have started to swell like crazy, of course I am freaking out that I could have pre-eclampsia and that this could be bad for the baby.  I see my OB tomorrow and will find out if my blood pressure is out of whack or not.  I have ordered some graduated compression socks and stockings to help with the swelling if it turns out to be just the normal pregnancy swelling.  I am trying to be proactive about everything, but the fear is there always in the background.

We pray to Grace to help bring Baby Bear to this world safely.  I wish so much that I could have brought her home safely too.  My baby girls... will I get to keep either?  Why couldn't I have both?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Baby clothes

I spent the day sorting through used baby clothes that we were given for Grace, outfits purchased for her and clothes purchased for Bear.  I realized I have no idea what I have, what I need or how to actually take care of a baby.  I am freaking out a little bit.  I have thirty 0-3 month old onsies, but no pajamas and almost no clothes in any other size.  I then spent a few hours adding items to our registries to hopefully make sure that she won't have to wear a diaper only once she weighs more than 12 lbs.  All this and part of me thinks that she will not get to come home like Grace.  My heart would die if that happened.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Just a quick post

Well we turned off cable last week.  It has been an adjustment in the way we watch TV, but I have to say that generally means that we are watching less of it and getting more done.  I am still working on other ways to save money and prepare for the 3 months this summer with no income, but hopefully a beautiful baby to take care of instead.  Everything will be worth it, as long as she comes home with us.

Here is one of the 3-D Ultrasound pictures I mentioned in my last post.

Doesn't she look like she is laughing?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Level 2 U/S Take 2

So today I had my second level 2 u/s for Bear.  Our new perinatology office would not accept the ultrasound from the first perinatology practice.  Of course the first practice refused to let me schedule a perinatologist consult without a referral from my regular OB (who sent the paperwork twice and called three times).  Ugh.  So today first thing in the morning off to have an ultrasound, immediately followed by a consult with a MFM specialist.

For some reason I found this ultrasound harder.  I was crying almost the entire time.  Bear of course is perfect, no cardiac abnormalities, measuring a few days ahead of predicted, weighing in at 2 lbs.  As an added bonus we also got some 3-D images, which I was completely not expecting.  We have pictures of her crossing her ankles and some face pictures.  Her face pictures look like she is laughing and smiling.  Our happy baby!  She looks a little like Grace, but mostly like herself.  I think she may have Mark's nose.. we were both hoping she would have mine!

The consult was difficult.  The MFM was compassionate, but some of his analogies were pretty awful.  "A cord accident is like someone on the gallows, everything is perfect until the floor drops and the noose tighten"s... Wow I don't think I needed that image.  Luckily he says that I am going great and so is Bear, he recommended once weekly NSTs starting at 31 weeks, and another ultrasound at 34 weeks, and basically that means we never really need to see him again.  He advised against induction prior to 39 weeks and when Mark asked about waiting for natural labor, he felt that was a great idea, as long as we can psychologically handle it and I don't go longer than 41 weeks.

We also started private childbirth classes this week.  It was really hard for Mark, but I did pretty well.  I would rather be prepared and act like this is going to happen just as planned.  I am also thinking again about hiring a Doula.  At first I was completely set on one, then I thought I would rather it just be Mark and me and now I am not so sure again.  Our childbirth educator is also a Doula so if we like her she would be a natural choice since she knows us and our history.  She seemed pretty amazed that we had Grace without an epidural despite being induced and all the emotional trauma.  I guess I am tougher than I thought.