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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Weird feelings

I think that maybe the hardest part about being pregnant again is dealing with all of the weird thoughts and feelings that any lucky, unscarred pregnant person would never have to deal with.

The other day, I was reading a pregnancy community online.  I used to get a lot of joy doing that when I was pregnant with Luke--Talking and reading about what other moms were feeling/going through made things easier for me to absorb and deal with (not that I even KNEW what was difficult, back then).  But this time around...I feel like an outsider.  I feel like I don't belong there anymore.

The discussion this particular time was talking about what everyone had REALISTICALLY packed in their hospital bag for when they headed to the hospital for delivery.  Everyone who had given birth before was putting in their two cents about what they really used and needed in that bag.

And I bet I was the only person reading that discussion whose heart broke thinking about packing a hospital bag.

I packed my bag for the hospital, obviously--I was 39 weeks when Luke was born.  That day when we went to L&D, I figured I'd take it, since who knew?!  Maybe we'd end up having him that day!

But everything fell apart so quickly.  And in all honesty, I did not use a single thing from my hospital bag.  Except for my soft fluffy slippers that I used because my blood pressure crashed and my feet were freezing.

My stay at the hospital was the complete opposite of almost every other soon-to-be-mom's.

I didn't get to use a going home outfit for Luke.  Or a nursing bra.  Or baby socks.  Or chapstick.  Or even a birthing ball. Or even my birthing plan.  I left that hospital with my hospital bag pretty much intact.  Except with some added paperwork about mortuaries and contact information for a social worker.

I legitimately had something to contribute to that question.  And yet I found myself holding back.  As if my experience didn't count because I didn't get to bring my son home.

Or maybe I held back because I felt like unless my answer included my story...I'd be a liar. And I didn't want to bring down such a happy discussion.  No one wants to hear a Debbie Downer. So I said nothing.

It hurts my heart that I feel like I can't even have input on these discussions.   I'm still a Mom.  I still had a baby.  I went through 13 hours of labor, was given Cytotec, Pitocin, an Epidural, and experienced giving birth to a baby with shoulder dystocia.  Everything about what happened to me was complicated.  And yet I feel like a complete outsider on these discussions because Luke didn't leave the hospital alive with me.

I hate feeling like an outsider.  I know I'm different now, and I would never give up having had Luke to be who I was before. But I feel weird.  Not normal.  There's a peace to being called normal that I never really understood before...but now I understand completely.      

I shy away from these discussions and message boards now. I see what other girls are worried about, and a lot of times I just sigh. That used to be me. 

And I wish it still was. I hope none of them have to understand true worry. Or what it feels like to be an inside outsider. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The unlikeliest of places

I just hugged a TSA agent. 

I've spent the past week up in Portland--visiting my sister and Andy, and spending time with my new niece Madeline. 

It's been an amazing week...and of course, it's a reminder of you, Luke. Seeing my sister bond with Maddie allows me a glimpse into all the scenarios that should have been for us but weren't. 

Anyway, I'm t the airport right now, and I truly give myself a pat on the back for how well I took this entire trip. 

But maybe I'm hormonal. Or emotional from meeting Maddie for the first time. But it kind of just came out. 

I was sort of apprehensive about security up here because they use those body scanners, and I'm pretty against that being pregnant right now. So I was hoping to be sent straight to the metal detectors.

And amazingly, I was!

But I kept setting it off. And I had no idea why. I was empty of everything. And then the guy mentioned that it was probably the underwire in my bra. Dammit. 

So I got sent straight to the pat-down. 

The woman's name was Debra. I could tell right away she was very nice. She explained everything to me that she would do, and then asked about my necklace. 

I told her it was for my son. My son that I lost. And then the tears came. 

And she told me that she lost a son too. 

She asked what his name was and how old he was. And when I told her you were stillborn at 39 weeks, she said, no--you were 39 weeks old. 

Her son was 23 months old when she lost him. When she told me that I burst out in more tears for her. 

All of this while she was doing her job to make sure I was not a threat to airport security. 

We chatted. She was wonderful and told me that she now has 3 grandkids, and while the grief doesn't go away...it hurts less, all these years later. But she told me to never feel bad for grieving. 

And then she hugged me. 

It's strange how our stories bring us together sometimes. Even in the unlikeliest of places. 

So now I sort of feel like a weird hormonal wreck, but I have a plane to catch....

Saturday, August 10, 2013

11 months...or one month away from a year

How have we come to August 10 already?

How has it been almost an entire year since we both met and said goodbye, Luke?

I remember this month last year so well.  We were so busy getting ready for your arrival--we had your baby shower.  And we worked hard on getting all the things that you supposedly NEED for a newborn.  We ordered a rocker from Babies R Us.  And we hoped it'd get here in time for your arrival.

It got here the same day as the last time we heard your heartbeat.  Two days before we lost you.

I don't know where the past year has gone.  So much has changed.  In so many ways, you've caused a lot of that change.  We sold our house, and we just moved into a single story house.  It's awesome and perfect, and I wish you were there with us.

And then there's the fact that I'm 4.5 months pregnant.  We found out about 3 weeks ago that you're going to have yourself a little sister, Luke.  I was torn either way, about what sex this baby would be.  But I think I've come to the realization that I'm glad this one's a girl.  I won't ever ever feel like this baby is replacing you in any way.  You will always be you, and she'll always be herself.  I will have a son and daughter.

What sucks is that we could've had the perfect family--Everyone dreams of having both a boy and a girl and calling it a day.  I know I did.  Now...It is what it is.  We'll always be missing our boy, but we'll have our girl.  Strangers on the street won't know that...and that's what's going to feel the most hollow.

The first year...almost here.

During the next month, I'm going to make it a point to raise money in your name for The OC Walk to Remember.  I hate that we won't be able to spend your first birthday together--eating cake and opening presents.  So this is all that I have left--Raising money to help others who have been put into the same terrible situation as we were with you.

A couple of weeks ago, I received a letter from the Office of Vital Records in Sacramento.  I've been waiting for this letter for a long time.  Since last November, when I submitted the form for your certificate of stillbirth.  I'm sure no one really knows that when your baby is born without a heartbeat,  you don't get a birth certificate.  You walk away with just a death certificate. It's like you were never alive.  And that hurts.  so I submitted for the certificate of stillbirth--mostly because that's all we have left to ask for.  I sent in the form, and the $20 for a copy.

So when I opened that envelope, and saw the sentence "NO RECORD FOUND", obviously, my heart broke.

I was expecting the certificates enclosed.  And I was greeted with that.  No reason why.  Nothing.

I called up the office Thursday.  And I sort of lost it on them.  I asked them how it was possible for me to be receiving it.  We HAVE a death certificate.  How can there be NO RECORD?  No record of your existence that day in the hospital? I gave birth to you at 5:29am on September 10. 

I was given the standard bureaucratic answer.  And then more explanation that broke my heart even more.  There are so few stillbirths in each county, that they're gathered up and submitted by the county they occurred in in one batch every six months.  I must've submitted it on the end of the six month cutoff.  And so your birth/death probably didn't get submitted to Sacramento until the NEXT 6 months cutoff.

When I told him it's been almost a year since your death, he told me that it's possible that Orange County hadn't submitted them for either period, and maybe they'll just submit a year's worth of these records...THAT'S how few there are.

I started choking up when I explained to him that that was disappointing...that I'd hoped to have the certificate for your birthday.  I told him that it hurt to feel like your birth/death wasn't even submitted yet...like it was incredibly unimportant.  Like it never happened.

He said he totally understood and told me he was very sorry...

You were important to us.  So important to us.

It hurts that our situation is so rare, the county doesn't even care enough to submit them very often.  Especially considering how much more this means to me than just a normal parent that gets their alive-child a standard birth certificate.  I understand that they need it more than me.  But I think my heart my need this more then they do.

Anyway.

11 months.  I wish I hadn't learned so much about stillbirth in these past 11 months.  But if there's anything I can do, it's to help raise money for a cause that supported me when I needed it most that day in the hospital and after.

For Luke's first birthday, I'd love to be able to raise at least $1000 for the OC Walk to Remember.  I'm trying to liken this to getting him a first birthday present.  But instead, you'll be helping others in my area and beyond (now that they're associated with the STILL Project) who need this help.  You can find our donation page by clicking the picture below...


And thanks to all of you who have supported us this past year.  It's been a year of a lot of downs, but even some ups.  And we couldn't have done it alone.