Thursday, September 29, 2011

Olivia's birthday

It's hard to find the words for yesterday. I started a few different blog posts and erased them, so maybe we'll try pictures instead.

It was a beautiful day. Just like last year. I bought the same happy birthday butterfly balloon and the same heart balloon as last year (but this year decided to write on it), and this year added a pink flower balloon. One for each of us.

 And Lucas was dressed for the occasion but totally uncooperative for pictures, he was fascinated by grass.

Actually, Lucas is a mellow happy baby most of the time overall but yesterday he was especially cooperative (with the exception of pictures and then at bedtime he'd fall asleep for 5 minutes, wake up when I put him in bed, and then was wide awake chattering away like it was the middle of the day. Finally I put him on the floor to play and let him wear himself out.) I was concerned about trying not to cry in front of him much since he's not quite as oblivious now, that was a failure, but luckily he didn't seem concerned about it.

 We left flowers, and broke the rules again this year and left a little doll and winnie the pooh figurine (last year they let the stuff we left stay for almost a year- technically since its a national cemetery "stuff" is against the rules but they tend to let it slide if it is subtle and plus Olivia's grave faces away from the street).

Then we released the balloons (Lucas participated)
I had my eye out for butterflies, but there weren't any. No animals or insects of any kind, but strangely enough, right after the balloons were out of sight, a big orange butterfly flew quickly across the street, past us, and was gone...too quick for me to get a picture and even Joe nearly missed it because it came and went so quickly. If I hadn't been looking around, I would have missed it too.

Then we stopped by the angel/park on the way home (this is where we will be back next week for Lucas's early 6 month pictures- fingers crossed the weather cooperates)

 The angel always accumulates lots of stuff.

We added a baby doll and teddy bear and another winnie the pooh figure to the collection.

And a flower to Olivia's brick,

More uncooperative baby pictures (but at least he's smiling).

I had to go to the bathroom and when I walked back up to Joe and Lucas, this butterfly practically flew into me. (It looks a lot like the same butterfly at the cemetery but I'm sure it isn't since they are 20ish miles apart.)
Then we came home and ate cupcakes. They had sprinkles and tinkerbell on them.  Joe and I went through her memory box and cried a lot more while Lucas played and laughed at us.

It was a nice day, for what it was. We received so many nice messages and texts and emails, and even an incredibly nice and unexpected card. That definitely made the hard day a little easier. But it was definitely still sad and hard and draining. It also definitely helped to have Lucas to squeeze a little extra tightly, poor kid. Although I think being pregnant with him for Olivia's first birthday forced me to keep it together a bit more and this year I tried but really couldn't.

Happy birthday, baby girl.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September 28, 2011

Two years ago today about this time I was getting an ultrasound on my lungs and liver and probably other stuff in the hospital. The tech kept looking at something in particular and then even went and got another tech to help her. I was almost relieved that it seemed like they had found something wrong to explain my pain. When we were brought back to the hospital room, I naively said to Joe, "I'm just afraid that they aren't going to find anything wrong and send me home like I'm imagining this..." (I always morbidly wonder what exactly would have happened if they had sent me home. My OB said I would have likely started seizing by the next day and gone into liver failure within a day or so as well. Olivia was already in distress with low fluid levels by around 4 pm that day, so I don't think she would have lived much longer inside me. They didn't think she'd survive long enough for an induction.)

A nurse came in and asked if I wanted pain meds and I said no. Soon after that, my OB's (now ex) partner came in and checked me over, asked about where it hurt and that dumb rating scale they use. The nurse told her how I had turned down pain meds, the tone in her voice suggesting that "she can't be in that much pain if she doesn't want drugs"...that was when I spoke up that the reason I didn't want pain meds was that I would rather tough it out until I passed out from it than take something that might effect the baby. I think Joe must have been on his way home to let out the dogs by then because he probably would have been even more irritated about that than I was. Someone came in and did more bloodwork and they were waiting for the radiologist's report. I begged for food and they finally agreed to give me freaking broth, which was disgusting, but I was starving. They didn't want to let me eat anything real until they knew what was wrong in case I needed surgery. We'd been there since 3 am or so and it was now about noon.

The Really Bad News came from a phone call around 2:30ish. I was watching General Hospital (It just so happens that Olivia and Lucas/Lucky are both characters there. We didn't do it intentionally really, and if we have another girl someday, the names that I really like aren't any characters yet.) And texting my friend on my cell phone about how they were trying to starve me and asking her to google pain meds and pregnancy because by that point I was pretty stinking miserable between my hunger and the pain and also sleep deprivation and not to mention I had no idea that I was never going back to Hell City again so I was still stressed out about what the little darlings were doing to my sub and the lesson plan for the next day. I think I called them sometime that afternoon before I found out the bad news and told them that I'd been admitted and still was there and probably wouldn't be in to work Tuesday either and just have them do whatever.

Anyway, my OB was on the phone (note: when my OB calls me herself, it's almost ALWAYS bad news. The only time she called me herself my entire pregnancy with Lucas was to tell me the amnio came back mature which I already knew from my nurse at the perinatal center, and after I had called her when my water broke. She called me twice in my brief pregnancy with Olivia- when my quad screen test results came back bad, and that day in the hospital.) She said my lab work came back really bad, that she wanted me to be transferred to another hospital and stay on bedrest there as long as we could, but we'd probably be delivering in a week or so. And there was a high risk doctor coming to see me and talk to me more. He came and suddenly waiting a week to deliver was no longer an option. (I found out later my OB called around a few more MFM's to get other opinions and try to find something, anything, to buy us a little more time. But they all agreed and said there was nothing.)

Everything was a whirlwind from there although not really. The last ultrasound. Going back to my hospital room after the ultrasound. The nurse asking what happened and crying with us. The ambulance to the next hospital. Talking to my OB at the new hospital. Getting prepped. And then surgery. Then she was born. And died. 2 miserable days in recovery on mag sulfate with our dead baby in the room because Joe wouldn't let them take her away and wouldn't let anyone set her in the little basket/cradle they brought her in. (That's still heartbreaking even in retrospect.) Finally, thank god for Heartprints Maggie who coaxed Joe into letting them take the baby for a little while with the promise they'd bring her back whenever we wanted. We were in bad shape. Finally the mag was stopped and I was brought to a new room away from L&D (but ironically ended up there with Lucas-thankfully not in the same room- b/c the hospital was so overfull with mom's and babies that they had to use 2 floors.) A few days later it was suddenly October, and we left without our baby, with a bag full of Olivia's "stuff", a scrapbook, some little books and stuff.

And here we are now, two years later.  Still missing her as much as ever. I made the mistake this year of trying to think of this day as little as possible. It's been quite a long while since I had a good hard cry. Heartprints Maggie says grief is like a cup that builds up overtime until you empty it or it overflows...and it is overflowing for me today. I don't remember last year being this hard, not that it was easy. This may be a multiple post day.

Oh Olivia, I wish you could have stayed.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

That Question

Today my friend Jackie and I met for lunch at McAlisters with our rainbow boys (who are getting to be fairly high maintenance now that they don't just sleep through our meal like they used to, but they were still both pretty good.)

This older lady came by to bring us our food and touched baby Zackary's head which totally would have earned her a dirty look from me if it had been Lucas but Jackie is not as spazzy about that stuff as me- and I always try to keep Lucas strategically away from strangers as much as possible.Anyway, so she asks if the boys are related (at least she didn't ask if they were twins), how close they are in age, the usual stuff...and then came That Question.

"So are these your firsts?"

I pretty much froze and stared at Jackie who gave a strained "mmhmm" as she met my eyes. The lady babbled on for a second or two longer and then left us.

I gave myself permission to answer however I need to in the moment and my answer is totally different every time. There are times I've said no and made the person keep prying for details, I've said yes (I look at it as although he's not our first child, he's the first that we are getting to raise-which is sorta what the person is really asking I think), there are times I've said " no-our-first-baby-died" in all one breath. No matter how I answer, I usually end up feeling pretty crappy about it.

This was the first time we were asked together. And it would have really freaked the lady out, probably. And I will always hate that question.

It has almost been two years since Olivia came and left.  The day after we lost her some idiotic chipper young resident came into my hospital room and apparently missed the heartprints sign taped to the door which is the head's up for them to know that the baby died. I asked her how many days I had to stay and she assumed since I was in a recovery room (for the extremely close monitoring because of the meds I was on and my still wonky labs) that my c-section was that day and gave us a totally wrong answer. Then she asked me brightly, "how is your baby doing?" I answered flatly, "dead". She did the gasp of surprise "oh I'm so sorry blah blah" routine that I've become used to now. Joe, ever the protector, had a (probably not very nice) little talk in the hallway with her and the poor nurse who was standing there shocked. His intention was good and that made for an easy target to vent some anger at the entire crappy situation, but really, that was just the start of That Question. Here we are, nearly two years later, blessed with a beautiful, healthy, happy baby boy, and STILL that question comes up. I guess it will probably haunt us forever, "That Question". It isn't so much that it makes us think about Olivia, we are always thinking of her. It's that it always smacks you in the face randomly, usually when I'm least expecting it, and there never is a good answer.

Stories of hope and perseverance

I started following Courtney's blog about the time she became pregnant with her rainbow baby after losing twin boys due to pre-e/HELLP around 22ish weeks if I remember correctly.  And I was so excited when she passed the 22 week milestone with no sign of trouble. And then disaster struck, and baby Wyatt was born much too soon at 23 weeks and passed away. (This was about the time we were struggling to get pregnant.) As if that wasn't enough for one couple to deal with, they also suffered from infertility and needed IVF/donor eggs from her sister to conceive. After they lost Wyatt, they had to go through another full IVF cycle which resulted in a chemical pregnancy. At long last, Courtney and Jason welcomed their fourth baby boy, Carter Evan a few days ago at 38 weeks. No pre-eclampsia or HELLP or anything else went wrong. I'm always very excited to hear about a rainbow baby being born, but there are no words to describe how happy I am for them.

Another blog that is incredibly inspiring and also heartbreaking is another Courtney at EB'ing a Mommy. Courtney's son Tripp was born with a rare and incredibly painful skin disorder called EB (which stands for something else). It basically causes his skin to blister whenever it is touched, so his body has to be wrapped up to protect him and things like baths and teething are extremely difficult. Tripp was not expected to live beyond his first year, but he is now two. If you are the praying type, Courtney and Tripp could surely use them.

That is all for today.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Totally random stuff

Bullet points seems like a fun idea for today, my thoughts are scattered.

  • Last night a horrible thought occurred to me. What if I end up having one of my former students in my community college class?  That is pretty unlikely.  The kids from Hell City are still in middle school/high school. My alternative school kids, were mostly not college-bound, and the ones who were should hopefully be done with A&P by now. Fingers crossed. That would be just my luck.
  • Mailed off my application to start volunteering yesterday. (Rethought my timeline and decided it will be easier to get those hours over with, or mostly over with, before I start classes.) Also applied to community college for the first time ever, which is really weird to put in that I have a bachelor's degree.
  • I almost had a heart attack in the car today. Since it was pretty warm, I opened the doors for a few minutes before I put Lucas in to get a breeze in there. So then I put him in, closed the doors, and pulled out of our court. Then I hear a buzzing sound, which for a second I dismiss as one of the baby's toys that he was playing with in his car seat, until it occurred to me that none of his toys buzz. Luckily I was stopped at the stop sign when I looked over my shoulder to see a GIANT WASP at the window in the backseat, a few feet away from my BABY. I hit all the buttons to lower all the windows as quickly as I could, and to my horror the wasp flew across/over the baby to the other window and then went outside. Lucas was totally unaware of the whole drama, but I think my heart stopped. 
  • Lucas has gotten over his hatred of "being worn". Just in time for him to move out of his infant car seat. I've worn him around the house a few times and he just chilled. Today we tried it for the first time out in public, in a store. I got a few bewildered looks, but it worked out really well. I think he liked having so much to look at. And bonus, it keeps strangers away from him. He's still too wobbly to sit in the cart and strollers are not nearly as convenient as snapping the baby carrier on and putting him in it, (especially to just go into a store, if we were spending the day at the zoo, then it would be worth the hassle to deal with the stroller for the shade) so this is perfect.
  • I think the Cardinals are gonna win the World Series this year. Just sayin'. 
  • I wrote a really long blog yesterday about the challenges of trying to raise a normal kid after losing a baby. And then I decided it was boring and deleted it. (Not that this is full of excitement today either.) But basically, my mantra is, "how much will this affect him?" Since he has no idea he sleeps with a breathing monitor every night, I could pretty much keep using that forever, if I wanted. But someday soon, I'm going to have to let someone besides Joe watch him without me, and I know it will be good for him, but I'm going to totally hate it. It's not about me though.
  • We did the drive-thru at Starbucks today, for the first time ever. (I know.) I've had those glass bottle frappacinnos  (love them!) but I've never actually been to/through an actual Starbucks before. The guy was totally creepy weird nice. Like, "Oh, I see you have your baby with you today." "Yep." "So how is motherhood treating you?" I smiled and said, "Good." In hindsight, I totally should have said something to freak him out instead just to see how he kept up the creepy nice routine. Are people that work at Starbucks all creepy nice or was this just random? Also, I got a pumpkin spice *light* frapp and it was disgusting. I'm not a big coffee fan and I had to force myself to drink it. As much as I could, at least. (I actually went through to get a gift card, not really for the drink.) The glass bottle drinks are way better.
  • We still do not have Lucas's 3 month picture prints back. (The photographer we used turned out to be a nightmare.) His 6 month pictures will be next month, and we are doing them at the park where the Angel statue and Olivia's brick is. I can't wait, I think it is going to be gorgeous there in the fall, and I love the little ways we can incorporate Olivia without making Lucas JUST "Olivia's little brother". Which is hard to explain, but I feel like his milestone pictures should be mostly about him, not about being Olivia's little brother.  Which is very hard because the two things aren't really separable,but Lucas is more than a tribute to Olivia. Anyway, I'm probably not explaining it well, but what 'm saying is that its another tough thing about parenting a rainbow, trying to find that balance of incorporating the baby we lost into our family now. So I think doing the pictures at that park, even if we don't do any at her brick or with the angel, will be a nice way to include her.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Why not teach?

So, I have this fabulous teaching degree that took 6 years and as many schools to acquire (luckily thanks to my grades and being a poor military wife, it wasn't too expensive.) I graduated summa cum laude with a 3.9 GPA (damn Moby Dick and that one A-). *Not really. I actually had a couple of B+ over the years, but grades don't transfer so they didn't ding my GPA at my last school.* I have glowing letters of recommendation, a couple of years experience teaching and subbing, and I might even be a better interview these days since I wouldn't be as stressed out about wanting the actual job. (My mom ended up in a graduate class with someone on one of the interviewing committees for a job that I almost got. The girl actually remembered me from the year before and told my mom they didn't pick me because  I came off as too they gave the job to someone who already worked in their building.)

A couple days ago I was telling my mom about my sonography school plans for the second time, I guess the first time she thought I was just tossing the idea around, and she says, "I think you should give teaching another try."  It took lot of restraint not to hang up on her, out of all people, I'd think she'd understand getting away from teaching the most since she's on the verge of retiring and always says if she could go back, she would have never become a teacher. But apparently she forgets that.

So then yesterday when we were on the way out to do some baby stuff shopping, I was talking to Joe about if he'd prefer me to take evening classes or weekend classes, and he sighed and said, "Can't you just teach?" Even though he'd already said he was okay with it, I guess when I started talking class schedules and prereqs it seems more real now.

I told him, sometimes things in life don't turn out the way you had planned (I think the babyloss community knows this more than anyone), everything is different now. My priorities are different. In some ways, I am different. I am incredibly lucky that this is a feasible option even, but it is. It makes sense for our family, it makes sense financially, and the job market is very strong with many different options, and best of all, it is something I really really want to do. That's *why* this.

If I'm being honest, teaching was never something I really really wanted to do. I mean, I like kids (er, most of them, not all.) I liked working with them. But it was never something I loved. Mostly, it was comfortable. My mom is a teacher, I thought I knew what I was getting into. And school, I've always LOVED school, I've always been really good at school. And I've always liked English and writing. I started working on my degree right as I became a child bride (a month shy of 19) and moved overseas with Joe, becoming a teacher was a safe, comfortable choice when everything else was a bit chaotic. Plus, I'm persistent and stubborn and not easily dissuaded, so once I had made up my mind, that was it. (My parents both tried to talk me out of going into teaching.)

But the real, deeper reason is that fairly or not, I still partially blame my working environment and the spawns of satan in Hell City for ruining at the very least, my last months pregnant with Olivia. At worst, they/it contributed to how severely and how quickly I got sick. I was teaching middle school reading. I found out I was pregnant in May, the same day I got and accepted the job offer. I waited until I was "safely" in the 2nd trimester, about 13 weeks, to call my principal over the summer and let her know. She was nice about it, and oh, by the way, the teacher across the hall from me was also pregnant. She was due in late October, I was due in January. I was never given any sort of curriculum. The previous reading teacher became the 7th grade English teacher and she just kind of shrugged and said they mostly did this Reading Academy computer program in previous years (which they decided not to do anymore.) The principal told me the class sets of novels that they had ordered for me at a meeting a few weeks before school started and said they should be there in time. I had no textbooks and a crappy hodge podge mix of novels in my classroom that weren't really interesting for middle schoolers. I collected books all summer and brought in several boxes of books for them to read. The school year started in early August and the class set of novels that I had planned to start teaching still weren't in. At first, the principal always had excuses "the order got canceled but was resubmitted, it should be here next week." They were always supposed to be in the next week. And then she just got annoyed with me asking about them. Last I heard, as of October of that year, the books still weren't in. So I was a reading teacher with no class set of textbooks or novels (but expecting those novels in every day), without really enough of an interesting classroom library to do anything with given the kids that I had, and no curriculum to follow either beyond the state grade level expectations. I was pulling stuff to do out of my ass every day. I took the question words from the state tests "assess, evaluate, describe, list, compare, contrast" etc. and turned them into a few lessons. I borrowed magazines from other teachers that had plays in them and we read those. I found articles and short stories and made 8 million copies. But basically, I was constantly and desperately trying to figure out what the hell to do. I was working from an hour after I woke up until I went to bed. We had to eat with the 6th graders (who I had to constantly watch, lest they start throwing milk cartons and food at each other), and I usually even ate dinner while working most nights. It was rough.

But even worse was the spawn of satan children. I had 2 classes of 8th graders (they were fine), a class of 7th graders (one really bad-"the bomb threat" kid and the rest really chatty but not too bad), and 3 classes of 6th graders (they were awful, all 3 classes.) The sixth graders weren't just bad for me, but for all of the sixth grade teachers. The other teachers, veterans who had been teaching 10+ years, were at a loss for what to do with them and even went to the principals asking for suggestions because they had never had a group of kids that bad and were out of things to try. They never shut up, they were mean to each other, they were unphased by everything. I joked to the 7th grade pregnant teacher across the hall from me that Olivia's first words were going to be "Stop talking!" because I yelled it a hundred times a day. (Talking didn't work, ignoring them and waiting for them to shut up on their own didn't work, turning the lights off didn't work, giving them extra homework didn't work, I spent hours after school calling parents and assigning detention which also didn't work and was extremely time consuming when I had no time to spare, yelling over them generally did work at least for a few minutes until they started up all over again.)  The principal had a special assembly just for 6th grade, and spent a half hour yelling at them and telling them she was going to start calling the police because it is illegal to interfere with other people's right to an education, blah blah blah. (She put on a nice show but was two faced and useless if it meant more work for her. She ended up getting fired, long after I was gone.) There was one day that they were really good. It was the week before we lost Olivia. Apparently some girls complained to her about this particular 6th grader who was out of control in all of his classes and especially mine. I wrote him up and sent him to the office, they sent him back. I called his mom and gave him detention numerous times (mom yelled at me for giving him detention). I sent him into hallway (weren't supposed to do that either).  He also sexually harassed female classmates regularly, I sent the girls to the office to report it, and got a phone call back from the principal screaming at me for sending them to her. Anyway, so some of the kids went to the principal to complain about this kid. Principal calls me into her office on my plan time and chews me a new asshole for letting this kid be so out of control. I point out how many times I've written him up and given him detention, sent him into the hall, all to no avail (even my neighbor teachers had talked and then yelled at this kid)..she says she's never seen them...then looks it up on the computer as if I'm lying about it and low and behold...there are all of the incidents which "must have been a glich in the computer system" because she'd never seen them. (BS.) Anyway, the day before I had had what turned out to be my last appointment and growth ultrasound with Olivia. Her growth was falling way too far behind, my pain was severe and my doctor was talking about maybe having to deliver very early if her growth didn't start catching up. I asked about bedrest, but there's no research out there to indicate it helps or would have hindsight, it sure as hell wouldn't have hurt. So I pretty much had a breakdown-stressed out and miserable- and spent the entire day crying and trying not to cry while teaching. Some of the 6th graders saw me and spread the word around and they were freaking angels that entire day. They were back to their normal selves the next day. And that was when I called my ob's office on my lunch break while the other teachers watched my 6th graders, crying, and begged them to pull me out of work. I didn't have enough time to call off on my own, and I was afraid to quit because I didn't want to risk losing my teaching license. I talked to my ob's nurse, my ob was out that day and was going to call me on Monday. At 3 am Monday morning I was in the hospital.

I still can't believe I let that bitch (principal) in our home. She tried to talk me out of quitting and brought food after Olivia died.  She said how much she'd help me and that she'd talk to the kids, blah blah blah. On Saturday, we went to school and packed up most of my stuff that we could take without it screwing the next teacher over too much (like I left the turn in trays, but took the 6 crates I had bought for kids to leave their journals in.) I've heard (the pregnant teacher ended up being in a different grad school class with my mom) that the principal and kids got worse as the year went on.It's hard for me to imagine how that's possible.

I have a lot of regrets from that. And I will always wonder if it would have been different if I'd stopped working. But that was why I was for sure not going to work when I was pregnant with Lucas. I know not all schools are like hell city, but for one, I don't ever want to risk getting stuck in a school like that again. And two, being an English teacher will almost always require me to take work home, and now that I have experienced just how fleeting this time with my kids can be, I'm not willing to sacrifice that much time away from them. Even when I taught at the alternative schools with computer based programs, I assigned them writing work regularly and was too busy working with the kids all day (no plan time or even breaks, kids were there for 9 hours) to grade it, so that came home. If I'm going to have a job away from them all day, no way am I willing to bring work home regularly. Especially not for a crappy teacher salary. Losing Olivia changed my priorities, and teaching is no longer one of them.

So that's why not. (This got much longer and deeper than I intended, but oh well.)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Big stuff

As my teacher friends began gearing up for a new school year, I found myself in a bit of a funk a few months ago. Because I didn't have the slightest desire to go back to teaching, not now, not ever. But I'm also not the stay at home mom type (I suck at cooking, and cleaning, and all things domestic. Lucas still mostly naps with me holding him- often napping at the same time- because who needs housework when I can be cuddling with my baby who won't be a baby forever?) I do want to stay home with our kids for the first year or so, and maybe work part time until they are in school, but that almost seemed like a pipe dream. So teaching is out (yay for that 6 year teaching degree). Not being sure of what is next had me super unsettled.

After some self-reflection and some research, I have a new path. Losing Olivia completely changed my priorities and my tolerance for all of the bullshit that goes with teaching. I never thought I would want to be a SAHM, for any length of time beyond maternity leave, until she was gone and I realized just how fleeting time can be.

One of the most important memories with my pregnancy with Olivia was the last ultrasound. We knew by then that I had HELLP syndrome, and the doctors were already saying we had to deliver her. She was too small to pick up on the fetal monitors so the took me to the high risk ultrasound place in the hospital to get an idea of her size and condition. We had been there the month before when my quad screen had come back off to rule out spina bifida. Anyway, I remember silently praying that she would suddenly magically be bigger as they wheeled me there, but already feeling pretty defeated and hopeless. As we suspected, she was way too small. And then the high risk doctor came in and confirmed it. He started talking about delivering soon, and I played along, saving my breath for when it mattered. They both left the room for a few minutes, and that was when I hugged my belly and stared at the tv screen which had a still image of our perfectly healthy but too small baby girl and told Joe, "I don't care what they say. I don't care if it kills me. I am not having this baby today." And he said ok.

Joe was in shock at that moment, he was at home letting the dogs out (we had been in the hospital since 3 am while they tried to figure out what was wrong-I talked him into going home to let the dogs out and get food around 1 pm, since they wouldn't let me eat,) when I called him and told him to come back immediately, in tears telling him that my OB had called and something was wrong with my bloodwork (which had been pretty much normal 6 hours before, but because she's on the ball, she had it redone and the second tests came back dramatically worse.) My OB had talked about transferring me hospitals and me staying on bedrest for a couple of weeks until we could deliver, and that a high risk doctor was on the way to talk to us. So Joe flew back and got there in the middle of the high risk dr talking to me. But I still always wonder how far he would have let me take it. I was ready to rip the iv out and go home against medical advice, in that particular moment. My mom, the voice of reason, showed up, and was absolutely horrified at our discussion and told me later that when she saw the resolute look on my face, she thought for sure she was going to lose us both.

Sometime later, the doctor and tech were back.  The doctor figured me out, I think, and must have known I was not going to deliver her to save myself so he better change his approach. When he said her fluid levels were low- a sign of fetal distress- and that she would be stillborn if we didn't deliver soon, I knew suddenly it was over. I did talk him into waiting for another round of bloodwork, and if everything stayed stable to wait and see. (He grudgingly agreed to that, knowing it wasn't going to get didn't.) But sitting in that ultrasound room, watching my baby girl move and her heart beating and knowing that she was probably going to die,(the NICU gave her a less that 1% chance),was one of the worst moments of my life. The doctor left and the ultrasound tech was still there, so incredibly compassionate. She said, "I just want you to know, that none of this is your fault. Nothing you did or didn't do caused this." She gave us the pictures in an envelope and told me that she put another set of pictures in my file that would always be there if I ever needed them. Even though Olivia was delivered at another hospital a few hours later, by then everything that happened was a foregone conclusion, the real worst moments were in that ultrasound room of the first hospital. But it was also the last time I saw Olivia alive, not dying.

So anyway, it turns out that my path is sonography. Mostly because of Olivia, but I would never be able to do it if it weren't for Lucas, too. It's still not a good enough reason for Olivia to have died, but I think I'm in a unique position, having gone through a pregnancy/neonatal loss, and then also a high risk pregnancy. It will also probably be good for me, to see normal pregnancies where babies don't die, too (even though I'm almost more comfortable with "loss people" now.)

At first, Joe rolled his eyes. I got my Bachelor's degree while he was in the Air Force. My schools were UMSL, Mizzou, City Colleges of Chicago and University of Maryland (while we were overseas), Wichita State (when we were stationed in Kansas), and then finally UMSL again once he got out. It took 6 years and nearly 200 undergraduate credits. (And it is a PITA to track down all of those transcripts. Luckily they are all on my UMSL transcripts.) So me going back to school won't really be anything new (I would love to stay a student forever, really). When we got an idea of how much sonographers make and that they generally have a part time option with still a decent wage, he got much more on board with the idea. I've researched the programs in our area, there are only 3, one is a hospital based program which doesn't let you earn any credits, one is Sanford Brown which is outrageously expensive tuition with the reputation as a diploma mill, and the other is through the community college. So it looks like I'm going to community college for the first time ever. The crappy thing is that I have to do 120 hours of volunteering and take 4-5 classes before I can apply to the program. I also have to talk them into not making me retake Biology. (They waive it if you took a year of high school biology within the last 5 years. Well, I took Biology, Advanced Biology, and Anatomy and Physiology all full years in high school, plus college Biology...but that was 2002 and sooner.) I have it roughly planned out, I will take a class or maybe two starting in January and start volunteering. Take the third class (or maybe last 2 classes) over the summer and finish my volunteer hours. Take the last class in the fall and get my application in, to hopefully start the actual sonography program in Fall 2013. Most of the classes I can take online or over the weekends so I don't have to sacrifice my time with Lucas except for studying. Once the program starts, it is fulltime, but "college" fulltime so not 40 hours of class and stuff, it's only 2 or 3 days a week. He'll be 2.5 by then (oh no!) and definitely a good age to start daycare. (Having worked in daycare for a long time, I won't put babies in daycare--too much going on and babies don't get enough attention, IMO. But I think it's good for toddlers and up, because they learn so much from being around each other.)

So, that's the tentative new plan. I have been feeling much better since Joe seriously got on board with it and then even better now that I've emailed the director of the program and gotten the information I need about what I have to do.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


This year will be the first September in two years I won't be pregnant (uh, pretty sure.)  Last year, September was my first month pregnant with Lucas, and the year before, it was the last month of my pregnancy with Olivia. Even though we were elated to be pregnant after trying for so long, my first month pregnant with Lucas was pretty rough emotionally. It didn't help that it is Olivia's birthday month. I was petrified that I was going to lose another baby in September, so I mostly held my breath and expected a miscarriage every other second or so. And the year before, everything went wrong in September. The entire month was one problem after another, first the quad screen, then her growth, then the pain, and then it all blew up and was over.

I'm still not much of a fan of September. We have to decide what to do, or not do, for Olivia's birthday.

I know a lot of babyloss moms like the term "angelversary", so I occassionally use it if I'm talking to another babyloss mom who I think prefers the term, (and I'm not offended or annoyed when someone else says it), but I honestly really hate that term. It just seems like a much too cutesy/happy/nice way to describe something that still really sucks. Like, oh, it's okay that she died because now she's an angel. Screw that. It's not okay that she died. It will never ever be okay.

This month is just rough, emotionally. I've spent the last few months dreading it. But here it is. In most ways, it's so much better than last year,  as I'm holding this 4.5 month old blondish brownish haired blue eyed baby boy peaking up at me from his nap and probably wondering what the heck is wrong with mommy. He gives me a big sleepy smile and drifts back off to sleep. He is big (95%ile for height at 27" and 92%ile for weight at 17 lbs 10 oz) and healthy and perfect and the light of our lives. But it's complicated this year, I almost feel guilty for being sad and still grieving, though I know it's normal. We are so lucky to have him, but damnit, on the other side of the coin, it still freaking sucks that Olivia is not here. I tend to dwell mostly on the "we are so lucky" side, because its easier, but sometimes it's impossible not to still be sad, too.