Tuesday, September 14, 2010

29 weeks

I would have been 29 weeks pregnant with Paige today if she were still alive. Why this specific gestation is so haunting to me is that my 3 year old son was born when he was just barely 29 weeks and I feel in my heart that if Paige only could have held on until now that she might still be here with me. Since Trenton is my only point of reference when it comes to birthing babies, 29 weeks gestation seems viable. I know this sounds crazy. 29 weeks is tiny. And fragile. But I saw with my own eyes that life was sustainable outside of the womb at only 2 pounds 10 ounces. It wasn't an easy road by any means, but my son is here, alive, and such a miracle to me that I am left wondering why Paige wasn't allowed the same chance at life.

Trenton - age 5 days

Trenton - age 3 years

Monday, September 13, 2010

Thankful for the Little Lambs

"Our Little Lambs" is an organization for miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant death. They have a support group that meets at Kadlec Medical Center once a month. I was feeling a little anxious about going, but I am so glad that I went tonight. It was validating for my psyche to hear other mothers share their feelings and nod in agreement when I shared mine.

I had tried counseling with a woman at my church last week. She was very nice and definitely has a heart for God. But, I actually ended up leaving the appointment knowing more about her life than she knew about me and my daughter. She kept telling me that I should rejoice because I can grieve with hope and that I am not like those without hope. The problem is that I already knew that. I have a relationship with God. I know that Paige is in heaven and that I will be reunited with her one day. I was seeking counseling because I was feeling stuck in the grieving process and felt I needed some help.

This support group is exactly what I need right now. It is wonderful to know that I am not "going crazy" and that it is okay for me to still be sad - now and also in the years to come.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Babies, Babies Everywhere

There is definitely something in the water. I don't think there has ever been a time in all my life when there were more women with infants, pregnant, or trying to become pregnant. Some of them are friends, family, and others are acquaintances whom I come into contact with on a regular basis. I am genuinely happy for each and every one of them and as a friend I want good things for their lives. Babies are a miracle and a blessing. Yet, with each of their milestones and happinesses I find myself hurting more and more. Most of my nights are spent crying on my husband's shoulder. I try so hard to go about life as normally as I can, but the fact is that I have a new normal now. I am a mother who has lost a child. My feelings aren't something I can pack away in a box and shove away in my mind. They are here to stay. I am hoping that with time things will get easier. But, I am not sure that they ever will.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Pretty Poem

I thought of you with love today, but that is nothing new. I thought about you yesterday and the day before that too. I think of you in silence. I often say your name. But all I have are memories and your picture in a frame. Your memory is my keepsake, with which I'll never part. God has you in His keeping. I have you in my heart.

I shed tears for what might have been. A million times I've cried. If love alone could have saved you, you never would have died. In life I loved you dearly. In death I love you still. In my heart you hold a place, no one can ever fill. It broke my heart to lose you, but you didn't go alone. For part of me went with you, the day God took you home.

Author Unknown

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Old verses can become new again

I woke up this morning on the wrong side of the bed. I was feeling sad and just slightly angry at the world. I really wasn't in the mood to read my bible today. I just felt like I should. And since I really wasn't in the mood, I just began plucking through the book of Psalms with no real direction. I have read Psalm 139 before, but somehow today verse 16 was standing out like a sore thumb. It reads, "Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be."

How amazing is that? God knew my beginning and already knows my end. It was all written in His book before I even came to be. So this must mean that He knew what was going to happen to Paige before it even happened, because He too ordained all the days of her life.

As a Christian, this is something that I already knew. Pretty basic stuff actually. But, today, it really left an imprint on my heart. It doesn't make me any less sad about losing her, however, it is comforting for me to remember that God is still holding ME in His hands and that he knows the days that lie ahead for me.

God was trying to tell me something today even though I was sulking around and in a bad mood. I could have just listened to my feelings of not wanting to read His word and maybe done some laundry or played hot wheels with my son. But I am glad that I took a few minutes out of my day to be obedient to Him. It is pretty awesome what God will show you when you just take the time to listen to His word and be present with Him. All that He wants is for us to fix our eyes upon Him which is definitely not too much for Him to ask. After all, He has blessed me more richly than I ever deserved.

My daughter may have never been able to take a breath outside of my womb but God knew that before it even happened. Paige's passing wounded my heart and soul and I will bear the scar forever, but it was not the end for me. I am still here, still standing, and God isn't finished with me yet. I have a wonderful husband and a beautiful son to love on and live life with everyday and I have a precious daughter waiting for me in heaven.

If anyone knows the pain of losing a child it is God. He is truly the only one who can help me navigate my way through this roller coaster of grieving. I am truly thankful that even when I am hard to be around, God wants to be around me. He hasn't left my side yet and I know He never will.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

“Little Snowdrop” - A poem that was used in Paige's funeral program

The world may never notice if a Snowdrop doesn't bloom. Or even pause to wonder if the petals fall too soon. But every life that ever forms or even comes to be, touches the world in some small way for all eternity.

The little one we longed for was swiftly here and gone. But the love that was then planted is a light that still shines on. And though our arms are empty our hearts know what to do, every beating of our hearts says that we love you.

Author Unknown

Monday, August 9, 2010

Hopefully not too far behind...

I know that time cannot stand still because I want it to. But some things in life are just simply unfair. This morning was Paige's funeral and somehow it seems completely wrong that life goes on without skipping a beat, while my entire world has just come to a screeching halt.

Part of me feels so cheated that my daughter isn't here with me. And another part of me feels grateful for the short while that I had with her. Feeling her grow inside my tummy and seeing her ultrasounds were both pretty amazing things. I was so excited to be having a daughter. As strange as it may seem, even after she had passed and I delivered her, I felt content just to hold her in my arms. But tonight my arms are empty. It is such a strange feeling to know that her body is in the ground now. I cannot see her face or hold her close to me again anytime soon and my heart aches. I know that her body was only a shell and that her soul is with the Lord, but that little body was hers here on earth and I miss it.

They say that time in heaven is compared to a blink of an eye for us on this earth, and tonight, it helps me to think of my daughter running on ahead of me through a beautiful field of wildflowers and butterflies. I am imagining her so utterly happy and completely caught up in what she is doing, that by the time she turns around to see if I'm behind her...I will be. I can't wait to hold her in my arms again and to tell her how much I love her.

I also cannot wait for her brother Trenton to meet her. Sometimes I feel like she comes to him in dreams. The past three nights he has been laughing in his sleep and I like to think that maybe...just maybe...he is dreaming of the two of them running through the park or going to the zoo or simply playing with toys together on the living room floor.

Friday, August 6, 2010

"Still" - A story I wrote about the stillbirth of my daughter Paige Marie

He flipped the switch and the room darkened. “Maybe now we will get a clearer view” he said.

I stared at the screen and it was still. Nothing. No movement or fluttering at all. “There is no heartbeat is there?” I said, fighting back tears.

“I am so sorry” he said as he sighed.

“What do we do now?” I cried as he wiped my stomach clean and helped me up. What a horrible day I had picked to come to my appointment alone. Just a few hours ago I had been shopping online for her crib bedding and now she was gone. Do I go to the hospital? How can we help her? Defibrillator? Heart transplant? What? Tell me what to do and we will do it, I thought.

He gave me a hug and with tears in his eyes he told me, “It is not your fault. Nothing could have prevented this. Her heart just stopped. It may be something chromosomal. And there does appear to be some fluid around the base of her brain. It is a Friday and you definitely need some time to grieve so I want you to go home, come back Monday morning for another ultrasound, and then we will schedule your delivery at the hospital to get her out. Once that happens we can test her chromosomes, look at the placenta, and order some blood work to get a better understanding of what happened. Is there someone you can call so that you aren’t alone?”

“My husband.”

“Okay. I am going to step out now and will be back in a moment. Why don’t you try to give your husband a call?”

I placed my head in my hands and began sobbing. Why was this happening? I am sick to my stomach and the room feels like it is spinning. After a few minutes and a couple of deep breaths I managed to wipe my tears, grab my Blackberry out of my purse, and dial my husband. I interrupted him in a work meeting but he left immediately to come and get me. Thank God I had left my 3 year old at his grandma’s house this morning. I had brought him to a few of my appointments before and at this time felt very relieved to know he was safe and happy and that I could just focus on what was happening at the moment without worrying about him.

The nurse brought me a bottle of water and a new box of Kleenex. She hugged me. I could feel that she was truly sorry that this had happened to me. She held my hand for a moment while I cried and then said she was going to go keep an eye out for my husband and left. I felt so sad and lonely. My husband finally arrived and after a moment in the room together we left out the back hallway of the office and drove home.

He put his arms around me and we sat on the couch talking and crying with the TV off and the blinds closed tightly. How do you deal with something like this? I was 22 ½ weeks along. We had seen her in ultrasounds many times, felt her kick, named her Paige, and were so excited to have rounded out our family. It was going to be the four of us. It was going to be perfect, or at least as perfect as anything here on earth could be. Earlier in the week we had won the bid on what was to be our first home. 1654 square feet to call our own. It had 3 bedrooms and a den. There was going to be enough room for all of us. But now there are only 3 of us here and it doesn’t feel right.

This was a high risk pregnancy. We knew that going in. That is why I had been getting weekly progesterone shots and was on a sort of modified bed rest. Our son was born prematurely at 29 weeks and our biggest worry was that she too would make an early entrance into the world. Never in my wildest dreams did I envision miscarriage.

I became a Christian in my early 20’s and since then God has always been on my side. I communicate with Him on a daily basis. I read my Bible and pray. I thank Him when I rise in the morning and throughout my day for simple blessings like my son’s laughter, a pretty sunset, or a good cup of coffee. I also pray for family, friends, and things I want or need and ask for peace within my heart when His will is done. I normally feel very blessed to have the life that I do. It is not perfect or without hardship by any means, but overall I definitely have a pretty great life. However, this does not seem like it could possibly be His will. How could it be? My heart is aching and I just don’t understand.

Getting pregnant was not easy for my husband and me. I had prayed my heart out for months because I longed for another child. We tried for a long time with no result. I finally was at peace with the fact that it wasn’t the right timing. After all, our time is not God’s time and if another child is what God wanted for me, then He would make it happen. So, I made the choice to be content with the family that I had been blessed with and we stopped trying. A few weeks later I found out that I was pregnant. I couldn’t believe it! My prayers had been answered. At least that is what I thought at the time.

But now I am left here wondering why He would allow me to become pregnant and carry this baby for 5 ½ months only to take her away from me? It doesn’t seem fair. People trying to comfort me have said things like, “She is in a better place now,” and “Take comfort in the fact that you will see her again one day because she is with the Lord.” I feel horrible saying this, but it does not make me feel better. Not right now. Not even a little bit. I mean, of course I want to think of my daughter being in heaven surrounded by His grace in a perfect and wonderful place. Don’t we all want that for our children? But the fact is that I am not in heaven yet. I am here. I know it is selfish, but I want her here with me. She should be here with me.

It is Saturday now and this weekend is going by so slowly. I have a permanent headache from crying so much and Tylenol isn’t even beginning to bring me any inkling of relief. I barely slept at all last night. My mind would just not let me rest. I was in bed with my husband and son who were both sleeping soundly and outside the rain was pouring and the thunder was rolling (which seemed fitting – almost like God himself was letting me know that He too was hurting for my loss) yet despite all of this, I could not find rest. I do not feel hungry. Nothing is able to distract me. Not even for a short while. I have been mostly just lying on the couch holding my belly. She is still physically inside of me and I can feel her there, but she is not alive and my heart is broken.

I am so full of emotions right now…

I am scared. Scared of being induced, scared of actually delivering her, scared of seeing her, scared of holding her, and then scared of having to leave the hospital without her.

I feel guilty. Guilty because my body gave me no warning signs to let me know that she was having problems, guilty that my body wasn’t strong enough to support her and keep her alive, and guilty that I just want to be alone right now even though I have family and friends that want to be there for me.

I am sad. Sad for myself, sad for my husband, sad for my 3 year old who just doesn’t understand at all, and sad for my extended family and friends who are sharing a part in this with me.

I am worried. Worried that the hurt and pain won’t ever subside and that I won’t ever be able to really be happy again.

And lastly I feel confused. I just don’t understand why this happened?

Monday morning finally came and we went to the doctor’s office. The second ultrasound confirmed what we already knew. She was gone. They had a room waiting for us at the hospital so we went over there to begin the process.

When we got off the elevator, walked to the desk in the birthing center, and said my name, they all looked down. At first I found it to be strange that none of them looked up at me, but I guess I can understand. It is a completely uncomfortable situation and to be perfectly honest, right now I do not know what to say to others as much as they do not know what to say back to me. Finally a nurse came from around the corner of the desk. She had a welcoming smile on her face and a motherly look about her. She led us to our room. There was a small sign on the door that read, “Quiet. No Visitors.”

I got undressed and into a gown. She took my vitals, a brief medical history, and placed an IV. Then she sat by my bed and explained to us how this process was going to work, what to expect before and after delivery, and that any and all feelings we had were okay to have and okay to feel. She explained that at 22 weeks gestation she is a “real” baby and that she had a life and a purpose here and that she was going to be treated with dignity and respect. That is what I wanted most of all. You hear about women having abortions in their second trimesters and that the remains are just disposed of. I didn’t want that for my little girl. She wasn’t a tumor or a piece of waste. She is my daughter and I love her with all of my heart. I know that others may forget about her as time passes, but I never will. She is a part of me.

We got to meet with the hospital chaplain before labor was induced. She stayed with us for almost an hour. She talked with us about our family, faith, and the grieving process. It was nice to be able to get all of my feelings off my chest and validated. Just then my mother showed up. The chaplain prayed with my husband, my mother, and I and then she left. The three of us didn’t talk much. We tried, but there just weren’t many words to say at the time. It felt strange to talk about current events and when we talked about the baby we just cried. So for the most part we just sat there quietly and together. I think we were all trying to find that place of strength within ourselves to prepare for and help get us through what was to come.

The nurse came back in with the doctor. He explained to me that since the baby was not alive and her safety was not a concern that I could have whatever pain medication I wanted or needed since this was already a very emotionally painful time for me. Why add insult to injury? He inserted 3 crushed up Cytotec tablets into my vagina. This was to induce labor. He said it can sometimes take up to 3 doses of this medication to actually get to complete dilation. The nurse said that they could administer the second dose in 4 hours if needed and that nothing much would probably happen with this dose but to call for her if I felt any discomfort, wanted any pain medication, or needed anything else.

I was starting to get really hungry. My stomach was hurting and I had a headache. I had drunk a glass of Ovaltine around 6:45 that morning, but had thrown up 3 times since then. I wasn’t able to eat anything but clear liquids now, so I ordered a lemon flavored Italian ice. I ate it faster than I had ever eaten anything before. Either it was simply delicious or I was starving. About an hour later I began to feel a lot of pressure in my pelvis. I was up and down between my bed and the bathroom for a while and soon my labor had progressed to the point where I had to really concentrate on my breathing to get through the contractions. I called for the nurse. I was in pain. I asked her for some medication. She administered a shot of something into my IV. It did nothing. She put on a glove and checked my cervix for dilation. She said she wasn’t sure what she was feeling and went to get another nurse for a second opinion before calling the doctor to come back in. She didn’t think that I could have progressed so quickly. None of them did.

The other nurse came in and said I was at 3 cm, 100% effaced, and had a bulging bag that was at a plus 2. One nurse quickly went to get the anesthesiologist while the other called my doctor. I was in extreme pain at this point. I was lying on my right side with my eyes closed trying to focus, when all of a sudden my water broke. Then my body just took over. I didn’t mean to begin pushing. It just happened. I couldn’t control it. I could feel the baby coming out. I yelled for the nurse and began crying. I wasn’t crying from the pain. I was simply overcome with emotion. I couldn’t believe that this was actually happening.

She pulled back the sheets, helped me roll to my back, and with the doctor’s help Paige Marie was out of my body in only a couple of pushes. I had done it without the pain medication that I was planning on and I know this might seem strange but it almost felt better this way. I had been feeling kind of numb for days, so I was happy to be able to feel everything. This wasn’t supposed to be easy. It was supposed to hurt. It hurt fiercely, and yet the physical pain was no match for what my heart was feeling. I was completely broken.

My husband and mother were on one side of my bed crying. The nurse was on the other holding my leg. I looked down and through my stream of tears I saw my daughter for the first time. Despite the fact that she was lifeless and purple she had a perfectly formed little body. She was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. The nurse carried her to the corner and wrapped her in a blanket.

The doctor was still tending to me. At only 22 weeks the placenta does not want to detach easily from the mother’s body. The doctor tried for a while with a few tools and also with his hands, but it wasn’t budging and was extremely painful. He decided to give me a few more Cytotec tablets, this time orally, to try and force the placenta out. I took them, they laid Paige in my arms, and then they left the room.

I sat there in my bed holding my daughter for the first time and even though she wasn’t alive, for a brief moment I felt content. It was a relief to have her out of my body. But now that she was out of my womb and in my arms I didn’t want to let her go. Her skin was sticky to the touch, reddish purple, and she was limp. And still, somehow, it seemed as if she was only sleeping and that at any moment she was going to take a breath and open her eyes. Oh how I desperately wanted her to. But she didn’t. I knew she wouldn’t. It was only the desire of my heart.

I began to feel another contraction and called for the nurse. Another gush of water came out. I handed Paige to my husband. I pushed with all of my might and the doctor tried again to remove the placenta. Finally with much compassion he called for anesthesia and I was given a shot to numb my pelvis so he could do his job and I was a bit more comfortable. In a few short minutes the medical part of it was over and all that was left was physical and emotional recovery. But to be completely honest, at this point in time, the latter part seemed impossible.

My grandmother and aunt came to the hospital to see my little girl. I hadn’t wanted any visitors at all, but for some reason now that she was physically here I wanted my family to see her; to see the beautiful creation that God had knit together in my womb. I wasn’t ashamed or embarrassed like I had felt a few days ago. I was just saddened and my heart was burdened.

Once my family left, I held her to my chest, placed her tiny hand around my finger, and my husband and I lay there in the hospital bed talking and crying. I am thankful that the 3 of us were able to have that time alone together and I feel lucky that my husband is as strong as he is. I need him to be strong right now because I feel I have no strength left in me. Paige had to be kept cold and unfortunately the longer I held her, the warmer she got, and she began to bleed from her nose. I didn’t want to call the nurse to come and take her but I knew that I had to.

Leaving the hospital the next morning without her was awful. I hated being wheeled down the hallway to the car alone…without my baby. I had also had to leave the hospital alone when we had our son 11 weeks prematurely, but that paled in comparison to what we were facing now.

The next morning we got up and met with a director at the funeral home. We picked a cemetery plot for her and also one for each of us beside hers. We have chosen to have a graveside service with family only. We have picked flowers, bible verses to be read, songs to be sung, and met with our pastor. Yet still, I want someone to pinch me because it doesn’t feel real. In her casket I am wrapping her in a soft, lavender colored blanket, alongside a pink teddy bear, a picture of her father, brother, and I, and a letter I wrote to her letting her know that I love her deeply and now know that heaven will be that much sweeter because she is waiting there for me.

It’s hard to believe that a week has passed since this nightmare began. Today was the first day I was able to have a conversation with God again. I know in my heart that He is the only one that can restore my spirit and I need Him desperately. However, He and I have a slightly bumpy road to get back to where we once were. I feel okay saying this to Him because He is a big and loving God. I know that He knows my heart and is willing to meet me where I am and walk beside me through this valley. He did not do this to me. As hard as it can be to understand sometimes, it is the just the way of the fallen world that we live in. I am praying that in time I can come to terms with her death and thank God that I do have my faith and am not without hope. I want her back and in my arms with every ounce of my being. I miss her so much. I feel cheated because I had plans for us that will never come to be and I wish I knew when this heartache will subside. But until then, I am going to try to love myself enough to allow myself to grieve and give myself time and space to recover but I will never forget my daughter Paige. Never.