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Saturday, March 29, 2014

To Come Back

I was recently asked by a friend what to think about a situation she was in. One of her good friends lost her baby last year. And she told me that she felt like she was distant. Maybe even avoiding her. My friend had a baby of her own very recently...and just wanted to understand. 

It's so hard. So so hard to explain. 

But the short answer...if you ever feel like a friend or family member is being distant after losing a baby...is yes. Yes they are being distant. 

I hid Facebook friends who had babies. The truth was that seeing their perfectly normal lives and babies made me incredibly jealous. Envious of their lives. Of how simply it came to be for them. When we'd lost so much. It broke my heart watching their babies' milestones when my Luke should have been right there alongside them. But he was gone. 

It wasn't their fault. I didn't blame them for what happened. And I would never wish what happened to us on anyone. But watching it come across my newsfeed triggered so many hard feelings. Tears. The unfairness is unfathomable unless you've been there. 

It's so hard to comprehend what it feels like to watch your entire life crumble before your own eyes unless you've been forced to live through it yourself. It's hard to even put into words, really. 

What's so hard for others to understand is that when you lose a baby, especially far into pregnancy or after birth, you will never be the same person you once were. Never. 

I think so many of my friends expected me to just...come back. Come back to work--you're OK again, right? I haven't seen you in a year...you're all good now, right?

The truth is, the pain of losing Luke will never go away. It's always there, lurking in the back of my mind and heart--no matter how amazing my life is going right now. I will always carry him and his memory with me. 

And I'm only a year and a half out. There's still so much life left to be lived. Without him. 

But the thing about life? It is always changing. It's always different. I can say now that I'm happy. I am not in the same place that I was last year at this time, when we'd started trying again. Or 18 months ago, when I found out just 2 months after losing Luke that both my siblings were having a baby.  My experiences have brought me here. I wish the road had been different. That things had been easier. But I'm still standing. Somehow. I was knocked down for awhile, but I'm here now. And I realize that my journey is different from any other mom who's lost a baby. We are all in different, lonely boats. Trying to find our way back. Sometimes we're lucky enough to be led back toward who we were by a rainbow baby. Sometimes it's really soon after, and for others, it's a long time after. And for some, there will never be a way back. 

So if you're a friend--of someone trying to find their way back--please know:

It's not your fault and we don't blame you.
But sometimes, it's easiest to hide in the fog that's covered our lives. 
And some of us may seemingly bounce back. 
But some of us can't. And won't. 
Some of us will want to stay lost on our lonely boat. 
It doesn't mean that we don't want you as a friend. 
It's just that it's hard. 
Unfathomably hard...to return to what and who you once were. 
We have to look toward the rest of our lives... without our own flesh and blood. Without ever knowing them. We've been robbed. 

And that's just incredibly hard to bounce back from. 

So be their friend. Try. Give it time. In the end, they may not be the same person. And things will be different. But try not to be hasty. Because that mama probably needs a good friend like you. 

I'm lucky. I have so many people that weren't hasty with me. I knew I had to do something to get through this. Therapy. Trying again. It all takes courage. When I'd already been through so much. But my friends and family held me up, and I could never repay them for that.  My courage came from them. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Down the rabbit hole

I couldn't fall asleep the other night.

And it wasn't because of Lena.  I'm not sure what triggered it.  It might've been that I realized yesterday that I'm going back to work on March 10--What should have been Luke's 18 month birthday.  It might have been because last week, I found out that Jeff lost all of the pictures from Lena's birth and delivery somehow on his phone.  The only ones we'll ever have of that event--gone.  And then it made me think about how I'd feel if we'd lost those of Luke.

Obviously, I would feel much, much, much, MUCH angrier.  And sad.  And hopeless.

I feel like thoughts of Luke have taken a back seat in the past 2.5 months.  They're not gone. But with a newborn, it's understandable that my brain is somewhere else.  It's completely focused on the growing, needing baby in front of me. 

Thoughts of him have come rushing back in the past couple days.  And I sort of went down the rabbit hole of emotions.  I thought about delivering him again, and I thought about how horrible his birth was...In retrospect, with perspective...How incredibly traumatizing it was to deliver a baby with shoulder dystocia. 

I Googled it again...like I have so many times before.  And frankly, every time I read about it, I still don't understand how I lived through it.  Every article I read about it mentions potential "fetal or maternal demise." Many of them--from journals of medicine--talk about how it's literally an obstetrician's worst, unforeseen nightmare in the delivery room.  That it's frightening to even a seasoned OB.  That it's unpredictable, and can turn things south SO easily.  It's listed as an "obstetric emergency."  And?  THIS only happens in about 1% of deliveries.  It's like I won the shitty lottery of possible birth stories.  The odds of stillbirth at 39 weeks are less than 1%...And then we added ANOTHER 1% chance onto THAT.

I lived through all that.  And I still don't really understand how. 

Then I think about the what ifs of that scenario.  We didn't have a great idea how big Luke was in the womb.  We had no clue what was coming with his delivery.  What if he hadn't already died before delivery?  Would something have happened to him then?  At that point?  What if he'd been born alive...but then gotten injured because of the shoulder dystocia, that we were given a baby who could grow up with cystic fibrosisErb's Palsy?  Paralysis?

I could have been the mother of a baby who was paralyzed at childbirth.  He could have died DURING childbirth.  I could have had a post partum hemorrhage and...I don't even know.  Thinking about it blows my mind.

I think about all these things, and then I look at Lena.  Who's perfect.  And somehow, I'm fine too.  And I think about my OB, who, the more I think about it, I probably had more of an effect on than I initially believed.  She told me once that our delivery with Luke had given her PTSD, and I think now I've come to understand why.  Not only did she have to deliver the news to me that my baby had died inside of me at 39 weeks for no foreseeable reason, she then experienced what might've been one of the worst possible deliveries she's ever had to do.  I feel like we have a relationship that not many patients have with their OB.

I remember blacking out somewhat during labor, and that moment when what seemed like every nurse on the floor came rushing into our room to help her deliver Luke.  I had no idea what was going on, and it was my first delivery.  I had nothing else to compare it to.  One nurse pushed Jeff aside, and was literally on top of me at one point, pushing from my pelvis.  I knew it wasn't good, but the only thing I knew was that I had to get through it so that I cold meet Luke.  So that we could finally meet that boy that we'd waited 9 long months to meet.  Even if he was already gone.  And I held on for that. 

And now that I know more, I realize what we may have been subjected to after his birth, if he'd been alive.  Our lives could be so different.  I always picture Luke as a perfect, healthy baby.  Who doesn't picture that for their child when they're pregnant?  But what if he wasn't?  What if he was disabled from all of that?  It's entirely possible.

It's also entirely possible that none of that would have happened during delivery because had he been alive, he may have helped himself out.  He would have wanted to find his way out...And maybe he would have been just fine.

But I'll never know.  That was the moment my life was at a fork in the road.  One where Luke had died, and the other where he could have lived.  I suppose there were actually more forks in that road.  I could have died.  He could have developed paralysis later down the road.  But none of those sideforks ever came to be.  We hit a dead end.

In a way, I feel like I dodged a bullet.  I can never know for sure, but it's possible.  Not that I would love him any less had he been paralyzed.  But the thoughts about what could have been...I don't even know.

So now I sit here, with Lena.  Both my OB and my MFM foresaw the danger in another delivery for me, and insisted on a c-section this time.  And I can't thank them enough.  I trusted them in their decision for me from the beginning, but the more I read about what happened to me, the more thankful I am. 

Thankful that this is where I'm at right now.  Thankful that this birth was the exact opposite of Luke's.  It was calm and beautiful.  There was no panic.  There were happy tears.  There was relief. 

I hate that I'll never know what would have been for him, but because of him, I'm here, now. 

And I'm thankful to have had and held him the most.