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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Joy

On December 12, true joy came back into our lives.

The joy that was supposed to come with you, Luke, came with your sister instead.

We went to the hospital and got there by 5:30am. I went to bed confident, feeling Bowie's kicks as I drifted in and out of sleep. I was nervous. Excited. Scared. What if everything somehow changed when we got there in the morning?

But it didn't. We got there, and got moved into a pre-op room immediately. We were greeted by awesome nurses--who knew us. They knew our story. Total relief. They hooked us up to a contraction and heartrate monitor, and everything looked good. They drew blood. Then we waited for the doctors to arrive. It was just daddy and I, and we couldn't wait till we could meet her. Soon. So so so so soon.

Before we knew it, it was 7:30, and I was getting moved into the operating room for the c-section. Daddy stayed behind in the pre-op room while they prepped me. When we got inside, it was SO COLD. It was a cold morning as it was, and that room was beyond freezing. Soon, our anesthesiologist came in, and it was the same doc that was there that night with you, Luke, when I got my epidural. She remembered us too. We waited for the spinal to kick in, and just like with the epidural, my blood pressure crashed pretty fast. I felt like throwing up, but the anesthesiologist was on it and got me some epinephrine to stop it. And before we knew it, the surgery began.

Daddy was right by my side, and he watched the whole thing. I was relieved I couldn't really see them cutting me open, as the smell from the cauterizing kinda made me sick. Mostly I felt drunk. But it happened so fast--And then, we heard your cries.

Finally. Finally. Finally. She was here, and she was alive.

A delivery that we've been waiting for for almost 2 years.

They took her aside to do all her vitals and to get her cleaned up, and before I knew it, Jeff was leaving the room to go be with her. The docs took their time to get me put back together, and then I was also getting wheeled down the hall--into our room--where we could finally be a family together. I couldn't believe it was finally real.

I got into the recovery room, and there was daddy holding her. She was perfect. 9 pounds 8 ounces and 22 inches long. Almost as big as you, Luke, but not quite. She had a head of hair as well...and honestly, she looked just like you. I cried. Tears of joy and happiness, all mixed together. They left us alone after a few minutes, and I still felt like it wasn't real. But slowly, reality set in. Our baby girl was here and we were all OK. The relief was indescribable.

Lena Bowie was here.

After the baby-moon, the nurse came in to run a blood sugar test to make sure she was eating ok. All was well. So we were to be wheeled up to the postnatal care 5th floor. When we got there, we got to do the thing we also didn't get to do with you, Luke. We got to ring the bell that rings Brahm's Lullaby at the hospital everytime a baby is born and moved up to recovery. Doing that...made everything feel like it was coming full circle. I hate the fact that we didn't get to do that with you, Luke. But we never left the L&D floor. We just went home.

We got settled in our room, and things started sinking in that everything was really OK. That first day in the hospital, Lena met her Nana and Opa, her cousin Ethan, and Auntie Lauren and Uncle Pooter. The general feeling was relief. Everyone was so relieved that everything went right this time.

That first night in the hospital, they checked her blood sugar again, and it was really dangerously low. Down to 13, when it was supposed to be about 40. They took her to get her formula-fed ASAP, and that was single-handedly the scariest part of our hospital stay. Apparently it's common for bigger babies to have issues regulating their blood sugar after birth, but her's was scary-low. They spent the next day checking her sugar pretty often. Sometimes by actual blood test, but mostly by pricking her heels. I felt so bad--her poor little heels were pricked apart.

By Saturday, it looked like her blood sugar was getting more normal, and we were cleared to really try breastfeeding without supplementing. That day was rough. I didn't have much, and even the lactation specialist kinda just told me to wait till my milk came in. She did give a LOT of valuable info, though, and that was awesome. By that night, my milk had come in, and all was well in feeding land.

Sunday, we got checked out by everyone, and were cleared for discharge around noon. The happiness...when we were told we could all three go home--together...welled up in my throat. I still couldn't believe it was happening. We got everything loaded into the car, and finally it came time to be wheeled out of the hospital. This time WITH our baby.

With a full car seat.

And a full heart.

I cried on the way home, driving down the same streets we drove down after we drove home without you, Luke, just 15 months ago. This was was the way things were supposed to be. Last time, so many thoughts ran through my head as we drove that agonizing trip home...How was I going to get through planning a funeral? How was I going to get through losing you? How would my life continue? Every question seemed so heavy. I had no idea what the answers were.

This time, the questions were so different. They were the same questions that every new parent asks themselves as they leave the hospital. How am I going to take care of this baby? Can we afford it? Will we ever sleep again? Questions that will all be answered...in time. But they were certainly not as heavy as the time before.

I've come to the realization that Lena wouldn't be here without losing you, Luke. In some ways, I hate that, but in some ways, it makes me love and appreciate you, and in turn, her, that much more. It makes me feel like there's a part of you living in her. You were the only two who ever lived in the same place. Maybe not together. But that will always tie you together.

Lena is 2 weeks and 2 days old right now, and she is absolutely perfect. When I look at her, my heart feels full, which I honestly never thought that I'd feel again after losing you.

I know our lives will never be perfect, because of all we've been through. But this is a start to feeling like things can be happy again.

Missing you always, though.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

She's here

And she is perfect. Thank god. 

Lena Bowie Watanabe
Born December 12, 2013 | 8:00am
9 pounds, 8 ounces | 22 inches

Relief...at least for now...

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

At this time tomorrow...

Everything will be different.  Again.

At this time tomorrow, your sister will be here with us, Luke.  I can't describe the relief I can already anticipate feeling once we're there.  I've been waiting for that for 9 months now.  I can't believe it's finally time.

This morning I went back through our pictures--of meeting you.  I'm not sure I should have done that, but I wanted to feel connected to you before we jump on this next rollercoaster.  I wanted to see your face again...to refresh my memory so we can see if your sister looks like you.

But looking back at the pictures of you and me and your Daddy...the hurt and sadness and fear and anguish are so visible.  It still hurts to see us like that. 

I never want to feel that way again.  I see those pictures, and I feel those feelings so hard.  But I know that in no way are the feelings as raw right now as they were that very day.  Thank god. 

I still can't believe what happened to you.  To us.  I still can't believe we have pictures of our son in a tiny coffin.

Today it doesn't really feel real.  Today I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that everything will change tomorrow.  That I will finally understand what it means to make it through pregnancy and have your baby alive in your arms.  Something that seems to be a given for everybody else...I'll finally get to understand it. 

Today I wish I ever got to see your smile.  Or your eyes. 

I'm scared, but I know that at this point, there's nothing else to be scared of, because the worst has happened. 

I still miss you, today, and forever.  That will never change.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

To be someone else

There's been so many times over the past 15 months when I wished I could just be someone else.

Someone who's never lost a baby.  Who's never had to go through another 9 months just to have one baby.  Someone who didn't know what it was like to tell people they've lost a child.  Someone who doesn't know what it feels like to literally have a part of you die inside.  To live every day of the rest of life missing that piece of you.

I'm different.  I'm now someone that has survived something that can genuinely fuck. you. up.  for the rest of your life.

I can never have the perspective of a happy first-time Mom.  I won't ever know what it's like to complain about a terribly long labor and have that be the WORST thing that happened to me in childbirth.   This time will be bittersweet.

I've survived the worst, somehow.  I've survived another 9 months of pregnancy while carrying the burden of knowing that everything can come crashing down on you in an instant.

And I'm proud of myself for not hiding Luke.  For being straight with complete strangers who are nosey and well-intentioned, but also oblivious.  I would be lying to them if I'd told them that this was my first pregnancy--the most asked question of any woman who's visibly pregnant.  Why would I lie?  This was not my first pregnancy, nor my first child.  Luke was a full-grown baby when we met him.  I went through an entire 39 weeks carrying him and experiencing all that goes along with that.  He was real.  I have proof.  How could I lie?

A woman last week--an older woman--zoned in on me in a waiting room.  She was clearly obsessed with pregnancy and babies. I thought I would get away from the questioning after she asked if this one was my first and I said no.  But she continued.  And when I told her that we lost our first--Luke--last year, her first question after was "Full term?!" 

When I say yes to questions like that, that's when I want to cry in front of complete strangers.  Yes. That still happens.  It happened to me. 

And there was no reason.  God didn't need another angel.  He's not in a better place.  It doesn't matter how many prayers are said in the world for you.  It just happens. 

She really didn't say much to me after that...And I could tell that she was horrified.  And I bet that she hasn't had to endure such personal, gut-wrenching pain before.  Because if she had, she would probably have learned by now not to ask questions like that to strangers...

That's the thing.  I feel like those who have experienced trauma like this before get it.  They understand that pregnancy is hard.  It's not a given.  Women giving birth is amazing, but there's so much more to it than that.

Life isn't cut and dry.  There are millions of families that can't answer the question "So, how many children do you have?" with a simple number that can be proven with a photograph.

To be someone that is free--To not know this kind of loss?  Sometimes I wish I was them.  I do.  But then other times, I'm thankful to have been given this perspective.  I wish I could have gained it without having to lose Luke, though.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

7 days

If I don't fall apart
Will my memory stay clear?
So you had to go
And I had to remain here
But the strangest thing to date
So far away and yet you feel so close
I'm not going to question it any other way
It must be an open door for you
To come back...


Here we are.  38 weeks.  I don't really know how it all came around so quickly, but I feel like the days are just hurtling me toward next Thursday.  Toward the day we meet your sister, Luke.

I will say that the first part of this pregnancy was long...and hard.  And confusing.  The middle was muddled by a lot of back pain and physical problems that I didn't have with you.  Sometimes I was thankful for that--for something being SO different about these two pregnancies.  It gave me hope that the ending would be different at the time.

But this last trimester has absolutely flown by.  It's been a blur of happenings and emotions.  In a way, I'm thankful for that. 

Over the weekend before Thanksgiving, Daddy and I went to two Pearl Jam concerts.  When we bought these tickets back in July, I was hesitant how I would feel about being 36 weeks pregnant and going to a rock concert.  But going to shows is what we do...so we went.

In some ways, I feel like you were there with us.  First, there was the show Thursday night, that I didn't go to because it was a work night, and all the way down in San Diego.  But your crazy Daddy went to that one too.  And he called me during the show.  Unfortunately, I couldn't make out what was happening or playing, but when he got home, he told me that they played your song.  Light Years.  The song we had printed in your funeral service card...Because it meant everything that we felt about what happened to you.  And you have to understand...they never play this song.  They've played it one time this tour--the show your Daddy was at.  It's not pulled out very often...and then there it was that night he was there. 

And then there was Saturday night at the first show I went to.  There are really three songs in their gigantic catalog of music that I think of whenever I think of you.  Light Years is one.  The other is a b-side called Other Side.  And the last is a song called Come Back.  I've written about it here on this blog before--How it kills me to listen to now because it only makes me think of losing you. 

And they played it that night too.  A song that's hardly ever pulled out as well.  Oddly, this is the same exact song that was playing the night your Daddy proposed to me at that PJ concert in San Diego in 2006.

Everything's connected.  It was like you were there, telling us you were there.

This week is already filled with anxiety, but relief.  Relief that this stage of grief will be ending somehow.  But it's filled with anxiety about everything. 

The 39th week. 

Ironically, I will be exactly 39 weeks--to the day, when we deliver your sister via c-section Thursday morning.  The same exact day of my pregnancy that we met you after it was too late.  I will give birth to each of you on the same exact day of my pregnancy, and yet I will have exact opposite experiences.  The same, yet different.

Every day this week, we'll get closer to the day we meet your sister...and closer to the same exact day in your pregnancy that we said goodbye to you. 

To say I'll be relieved next Friday is an understatement.

I won't miss having to compare the two of your pregnancies.  I won't miss having to tell complete strangers that no, this is not my first child.  I won't miss telling them that you're no longer with us when they ask me how old you are.  Now people will just see your sister and assume.  Which I'm OK with, because it doesn't require me to drag down their day with a horrifying reminder that full-term stillbirth still happens in modern-day first-world societies.  And I'm living proof.

But what I will miss is you being the only child.  From here on out, there are two of you.  And I know grief will probably get more complicated when we get to experience the joy that she will bring into our lives.  As we get farther away from that day with you.  

Just know that you'll always be number one.  Wherever you are. 

And the days they linger on, yeah
Every night I'm waiting for
The real possibility that I may meet you in my dreams
Sometimes you're there and you're talking back to me
Come the morning I could swear you're next to me
And it's OK

It's OK.  It's OK
.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Creeping fear

At 37 weeks and 3 days pregnant now, things are getting real again.

I've been here before, and the feelings are the same. 

That's what sucks. 

Every first time mom has the same fears. There's the fears about actually delivering the baby. Drugs or no drugs?  Will I be able to breast feed? Will we get everything we want done before baby gets here? Will I have any clue what I'm doing when baby gets here?

Will I be a good mom?

I think most would say that that question is more easily answered the second time around. But for me...I'm still asking that question. And I feel like I've been asking it for the past 2 years. Because I have been. 

This time, I feel like the fear is heightened. I've already been through the delivery part. Labor. Seeing my child for the first time. But I don't know what comes next. I've dreamed about it for the 39 weeks I was pregnant with Luke, and now another 9 months with Bowie. I've had over 76 weeks to plan and dream about what my child would become.  Who they would turn into.
And I still don't have the answers about what comes next.  Because I'm still not parenting either one of them.

Right now, I almost still don't feel like this is real. Like there is no end to being pregnant--or at least an end with a crying baby. That's the part of full-term stillbirth that screws with you the most. You have everything...and then nothing, just like before you were pregnant. 

One part of me feels like there's no more to come after this. But the other part of me yearns for all that I don't know. 

We're so close. I wish I didn't have to carry around the burden of these feelings--Of knowing what it's like to leave the hospital with an empty car seat.  I wish I was just a normal mom who gave birth and went home and became a Mom.

I feel like there's so much more riding on this, this time.

Because I can't possibly fathom going through all of that all over again. 

December 12, 2013 has to be different than September 10, 2012.  It just has to be.