Friday, May 28, 2010

Letting Go

No, this post isn't about letting go of Aidan...that's a different discussion all together. This post actually has nothing to do with Aidan.

This post is about me trying to release my iron fist grip on 'having to have control over my life'.

I have always needed the comfort and safety of having total control of my life. I'm a little type A that way. I generally strive to do my best, to achieve the goals I set out, to make sure I don't forget important things and to honour all of my commitments. I know I'm not alone in this. I'm probably like millions of other people out there. I like to have things work out the way I planned them.

My pregnancy with Aidan did not fit my plan.

First of all, as I'm sure all pregnant women do, I planned on having a living baby. My job taught me that while that is not always the case, it is generally a pretty good bet that after a certain point in pregnancy most women are on the greener side of "having baby!". Brian and I, sadly, got stuck on the small brown, crunchy, burnt-out patch of grass. With Aidan, all we got to do was peer over the fence at the chubby babies and happy families on the other side. So close...and yet so far...

However, other parts of my pregnancy did not go as expected either. For one, it took us longer to get pregnant than I had originally 'planned'. I figured 3-4 months of trying, then it 'should' happen. It seemed somehow important that it occur that way because other couples we know got pregnant within their first month or two of trying. Like somehow if they could just 'try' and 'achieve', then it should be that way for us too. I got a teeny tiny taste of what having infertility would be like in the 8 months it took us to conceive Aidan...and let me tell you people, it is NO JOKE. It's awful feeling like a failure month after month. To have your 'plans' of 'getting pregnant by such and such a date' just blow right on past. To have your hopes washed down the toilet, quite literally, each month.

I also did not plan to spend 12 weeks of my pregnancy on bed rest. I had considered that I might need to 'slow down' during pregnancy due to my heart defect...but I in no way expected I would be vegging on the couch before my 'baby bump' came in, before my back hurt, before I had finished with the nausea of the first trimester. I've never watched so many hours of TV consecutively in my life. I felt my body 'de-healthifying' moment by moment.

Aidan's train wreck of a pregnancy and devastating early birth/death is a big freakin' neon sign screaming out the realization "YOU ARE NOT ALWAYS IN CONTROL". And, as much as I feel like screaming back "I AM TOO!!" in a fit of toddler style rage, my inner adult conscientiousness must concur, "Emily, you are most definitely not in control. If you were, Aidan would still be here".

So, with this in mind, I'm doing my best to try to 'let go'. To admit to myself that while I can plan and work hard for some things in life, there is much that I must leave up to chance. That my future, contrary to what popular culture would have you believe "If you can dream it, you can achieve it", isn't always up to me. I'm going to try to 'go with the flow' more, and not worry so much about planning everything out to perfection. It is a little frightening to view my life this way...that while a certain percentage of 'achievement' comes from hard work and planning, a not insignificant amount also comes from pure dumb luck.

So, first and most important on my 'letting go list' is for Brian and I to, for at least a year: Spend No Effort Either Avoiding Or Actively Trying to Conceive'.

For both our sanities I hope to be able to stick to this one. I don't want to avoid getting pregnant but I'm not going to try to either. For financial reasons, it would be best for me NOT to get pregnant any earlier than August or September of this year. But if we 'waited' until it was financially the 'best' time to get pregnant then I would want it to happen right away as soon as we started trying. Just like how I felt after we got home from Europe last year and it was 'baby making time' . I don't want it to be 'baby making time' anymore. If it happens soon...great...if it doesn't I'm going to do my best to not stress about it and just see it as more time to spend with my memories of Aidan.

There are tons of websites and advice books out there that say to wait 'at least' x number of months before trying again or some such nonsense. Physically, I was told by my cardiologist that a 'waiting' period for my heart wouldn't make a difference. This makes sense. My heart will always be different and cause for concern during won't be any 'less' of a concern in a few months or years from now. As for the reproductive parts of my body, I'm guessing they will be ready only when they are ready and not before. Can't rush it, can't delay it. Out of my hands.

Mentally, as Brian so aptly realized in the days after Aidan died, we will never be in the 'before Aidan' pregnancy mindset again. There is no going back. As Brian said "if you told me in 10 years that you were pregnant again, I would still fear that something would go wrong". We will never be 'over' Aidan, so setting a time to start 'trying' again would feel as if we were somehow limiting our time to grieve him.

I never really understood people's fondness for 'turning it over to a higher power'. Number one, I'm not sure any higher power out there really cares one way or the other about our problems. Number two, in my previous mindset, to do so was risking failure. Unless you worked hard for things and attempted to plan, how could you be sure you would get what you wanted? Well people, I have visited the other side, and I'm here to tell you, NO amount of planning can help you avoid dead baby land.

So here I am, letting go. Although I will always have a child that exists solely in the land of the lost, I hope too to one day have a child that I can tuck into bed at night, that I can wrap my arms around in a hug, that I can watch grow up. But, I'm trying to come to terms with the fact that I cannot plan when or if that will happen. I can do what I can to make that happen...but I cannot force it, I cannot will it, and most importantly I cannot worry about it. I must give that up. And maybe, slowly, I will be okay with that.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Went to the cottage this past weekend. It was wonderful weather, warm but not too hot, generally sunny. A much nicer May 24th weekend then us Canadians usually expect. (Usual forecast for this holiday weekend: rain...and more rain). 'The menfolk' in my family all gathered to put the dock in. My brother's girlfriend and I even helped, so at least I felt useful and productive.

However, my sadness and longing for Aidan doesn't escape me no matter where I go. I miss him all the time. It amazes me how people treat me so normally. They talk about things as if my life hasn't changed, as if I am still whole. I suppose this is good, and healthy, but sometimes I feel like screaming "Can't you see how much I'm hurting, how broken I am!!! How can you not notice!!" Right now I imagine my grief as some horrible injury, a hole punched in my chest, an arm ripped off, a leg shattered and gangrenous. I feel as though I am crippled, I have war wounds. I am slogging my way through this battle and have the trauma to prove it. Perhaps someday, my grief will become like a piece of shrapnel, deeply embedded in the skin. I will be able to feel it, move it around, probe the edges, and dicuss the injury that happened long ago. Although this injury will always cause pain, I will not bleed as easily as I do now. I will call it my 'Aidan wound'.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Guilt vs. Failure

I was out with my friend the other day and we were talking about my pregnancy and Aidan. I love this friend. She is easy to be with. She listens. She does not say things that hurt. She is able to be with me in my sorrow.

When we got on the subject of guilt she asked me "Do you feel guilty?"

Then she said "You know it wasn't your fault right? You do know that, right?"

And I answered her honestly. No. I don't feel guilty.

I really don't. I didn't cause whatever happened or failed to happen in my uterus. I had sex with my husband and a few weeks later, ta da, I was pregnant. That is about as far as my guilt goes. I did not cause the bleeding, I did not cause the placenta to develop abnormally, I did not cause my amniotic sac to break (if in fact it did...still not sure on that one).

Guilt implies control. I did not have control. If I did, I would have a 27 week + 5 day fetus developing healthy and normally in my belly right now. Trust me...I did not have control.

What helps to assuage me of any feelings of guilt, is that I took care of myself. I got pre-pregnancy counselling with a cardiologist. I ensured my medications were fine to continue while pregnant. I didn't drink. I didn't smoke. I took prenatal vitamins. I was at a healthy weight both before and during my pregnancy. I ate well. I sought health care (probably some of the best in the country), both for normal pregnancy reasons, and for the on-going disasters that continued to crop up during my pregnancy (bleeding, MORE bleeding). I went on bed rest when it was deemed the 'only treatment that might work'. I got good sleep. I drank water until the COWS came home in the last weeks of my pregnancy in hopes it would provide increased amniotic fluid for Aidan. I thought good thoughts for him, even while trying to be realistic. I did my best.

None of this however, keeps me from feeling like a failure. I failed. It was like having a healthy baby was a big test. The biggest test ever. I did my homework. I took notes. I asked questions. I studied. I was prepared. I did my best. Everyone knows it. Everyone agrees that I tried. But, I still got an F. I did not pass. The baby that my husband and I wanted and dreamed of and loved so much, still died.

So no...I do not feel guilt, and for that I am thankful.

But do I feel failure?

Yes...oh yes.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

In the suck

Some days are harder than others. Today I was really in the suck. It started yesterday.

I finally got up the nerve to go and open the little bag that the funeral home had given us with the outfit that Aidan went to the morgue in. I specified that I wanted him redressed after his autopsy. It was my way of making sure anyone taking care of him after he left my arms until he was cremated, would see him as a real baby. See him as someone who was loved and cared for and REAL enough to dress accordingly. I also wanted the outfit afterwards and I had asked the funeral home not to wash it. I didn't want it washed because, although I knew it would likely have stains on it after his autopsy...those would be HIS stains. I didn't want the funeral home to bleach them away. It would be like bleaching away his existence...his life and his death. Getting rid of the stains just felt wrong. There is no way to fix this...there is no way to make it clean...there is no way to make it okay.

So yesterday I finally got up the courage to go and open the little bag. When we went to pick up Aidan's ashes (the first time) the funeral director told me that they had wrapped his little white outfit and blue knitted hat in a plastic bag, then she handed me that bag wrapped in another velvety green bag. I suppose the velvety green bag was supposed to make it more stately and solemn. Handing a client their son's body fluid stained infant sleeper in a plastic shopping bag just doesn't quite have the same amount of dignity I suppose.

Anyway, it being over two weeks later, I figured I had enough strength to open up the bag and see those stains. I had to bear witness to the fact that they cut open my son's body to check to see if it was defective. Don't get me wrong, I wanted the autopsy...I needed it to be done...just in case it could tell us something...but I hated that I had to do it.

So I opened up that bag...and took out my son's outfit. It had the stains on it. But it also had something else.

It was moldy.

The last person to undress my son, put his outfit in the funeral home's plastic shopping bag when it was still wet. Then it went into a dark, airless velvet bag where it sat, damp, for over two weeks. And now it's moldy and looks like a stained dishrag. And it smells like rot and death.

I cried and I washed it.

I hope the stains remain.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

How it all went down (Part 7)

March 4th 2010

This was the first time I met my OB. I was 16 weeks and 4 days pregnant. I thought this was late in my pregnancy to first be meeting with my OB...but that's the way it worked out. Because of my heart condition I had to have one specific OB...him and no other. I was also to be followed by a cardiologist who deals with pregnant women with cardiac defects. You can see how specialized we are getting here. This OB was on the 'other team' from the fetal medicine specialist that we saw at our 13 week appointment. Our shiny new OB was pegged as the one to 'deal' with my maternal medicine 'issue'. Super.

Let me just say right off, that a male, high risk OB was not what I would have wanted. In another dimension where my heart was perfect and healthy and whole, I would have wanted a female midwife or OB, a hospital birth but no epidural, and for the baby to be placed on my chest as soon as he or she was born.

Of course in this other dimension my son was also alive and full term...but I digress.

I went to my first high risk OB appointment with lots of questions. In October 2008, Brian and I had 'pre-pregnancy counselling' with the aforementioned cardiologist to discuss the risks of pregnancy. We were told I had a *small* chance of heart failure, arrhythmias or death. The cardiologist felt, however, that I was 'healthy' enough to attempt a pregnancy. So here we were a year and a half later, and that 'attempt' had become a reality. I wanted to grill my new OB on what to expect both later in my pregnancy, and during labour and delivery. I wanted reassurance that he thought I would do well, and that generally they were expecting a completely normal delivery.

Instead, I felt he made me more upset. He told me that I might only make it to about 35-37 weeks of pregnancy due to the stress on my heart. I was not to labour at home for any length of time. I needed to be monitored in the hospital. I would need an epidural. I would likely have a vacuum or forceps delivery to avoid the 'pushing' part of labour. I would need antibiotics after delivery. All of this I knew before meeting with him, but it still hurt to hear him say it so plainly. Although I wanted the absolute safest thing done for both me and my baby, I also felt that he negated any strength that my heart and my body possess. This OB knew nothing about my heart before walking in to see me, other than my diagnosis. Did he know that generally I function like a normal person? Did he know that I can walk up stairs? That I can run (albeit for short distances)? My heart doesn't slow me down on a day to day basis...was delivering a baby really that much of a strain? He made me more fearful.

I also asked the OB about my current bed rest situation and about my on-going bleeding. The bleeding was dimissed all together as 'likely the clot bleeding out'. Um...ok. But, he said that I definitely SHOULD NOT be on bed rest due to my increased risk for blood clots, which bed rest can cause. However, then he shocked both me and my husband by following this information up with, "but, your job is pretty stressful, so why don't you just stay home for the rest of your pregnancy and take it easy". Looking back, I'm not sure if he said he would keep me off work because he thought that's what I wanted, or if he really thought that would be best for my heart. In any case, the on-going bleeding did not get investigated with an ultrasound...which at the time Brian and I had been hoping for in case they could determine the sex. naive we were.

I left that appointment feeling confused...this was the 'best' why was I so upset? I think I just wanted some choice in the matter. If the OB had approached it as "these are our recommendations..." then I think I would have felt more like I was 'choosing'. Yes, I want an epidural, a highly monitored delivery, a vacuum extraction, lots of antibiotics and the next 6 (!) months off of work in order to have a healthy baby. And I would have chosen question. I was just angry that, once again, I felt like a failure before I'd even tried. That despite my body being able to 'so far' do well with a very stressful pregnancy, my doctor didn't have confidence in my ability to 'handle it'.

In the end, however, that's not what we got. A week later, my whole world would change.

How it all went down (Part 6)

February 13th-March 3rd 2010

These were the best weeks of my pregnancy. I was still on 'couch' rest for most of it, so I watched a lot of Olympics. I think I saw most of the Canadian medal winning was was something to occupy my day.

Brian and I spent a small portion of almost every day during this time wondering whether we were having a boy or a girl. Neither of us REALLY cared what it was...we just wanted to know. I spent a lot of time on the Internet during these weeks, looking at baby things. Since I never actually got to buy anything, I wanted to show you what Aidan's room, and his stroller would have looked like if we had got to bring him home. We never bought anything...but we had big plans.

This would have been the crib bedding:

I had designs picked out for a girl and a boy. For our boy Aidan, we would have painted his room a light blue, probably slightly darker than than the picture, but similar. I did want to try to do a bamboo decal on the wall, although I would have attempted a more "realistic" looking bamboo design, possibly in either green or cream. We wanted a dark chocolate coloured crib and dresser set so that would have been different from the picture. I also might have forgone buying the bumper pad as there are now recommendations out there that you keep any and all padded stuff away from the baby's head, for safety reasons. Ah, baby safety recommendations...if only you could guard their safety in the womb so easily.

I had imagined putting a comfy chair in the baby's room too, so that I could breastfeed him or her comfortably. Hopefully the chair we bought would rock as well, so that I could rock my baby to sleep when he or she was fussy. It's hard to go in what would have been Aidan's room now. I can imagine what it would have looked like so clearly...

This would have been his stroller:

We would have bought it in red, no matter what sex we were having. It's a great colour for either a boy or a girl. I couldn't wait to take Aidan for walks in his stroller. I love going for walks in my neighbourhood. I love the exercise, I love being outside in nice weather...and I couldn't wait to share that with my baby.

I hadn't solidified my crib or car seat choice yet, before we found out the bad news, but they would have been lovely.

As I'm looking at these baby things now, it feels like I was picking them out only moments ago. How can it be that the person I was picking them for is no longer here? No longer needs these things? Will never need these things? It just feels wrong.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

"Love You Forever"

You know it. I know you know it. The book by Robert Munsch entitled "Love You Forver". It makes mommies all over North America cry.

I remember saying this exact phrase "Love You Forever" to Aidan both before and after he was born...because it's true. I will love him forever.

I just found out however, that Robert Munsch wrote this book in the aftermath of his wife's two stillbirths. One in 1979 and one in 1980. He said that it was written out of someone saying to him "write what would have happened"...

So, "Love You Forever" my sweet baby boy.

Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda...

Should have been 27 weeks pregnant today. It's awful watching all these milestones pass with nothing to look forward to.

How it all went down (Part 5)

February 12th 2010

13 weeks and 5 days. Opening night of the Vancouver Olympics. This may or may not be the day that things went from "likely to be okay" to "very likely to not be okay". I will never know for sure. I woke up this morning, and immediately felt like I was about to gush blood again. Went to the washroom and what came out was mainly brackish brown old looking blood...but it was quite watery. At the time I was like "oh good the clot is bleeding out just like Dr. R. said it would". In retrospect however, this may have been when my amniotic sac broke. It kind of amazes me now that I never considered that possibility...but I was so focused on the idea that these big gushes of blood (and possibly fluid at this point) would result in A) a miscarriage or B) not a miscarriage. Since after this we continued to hear a heartbeat on our home doppler, then ergo things were fine. Basically what happened to Aidan was sort of an in between. He kept growing and developing...but his surroundings wouldn't permit him to live outside the uterus.

We don't know for sure if I had ruptured membranes, although with the failure to develop ANY amniotic fluid build-up over a period of weeks makes it somewhat likely. If my placenta looked normal, then pPROM (preterm premature rupture of membranes) would definitely be our front running contender of "what went wrong". But, we also have the added complication of a very odd, blood clot filled, placenta. Could it have been malfunctioning enough to not permit amniotic fluid to be retained or built? If so, then maybe today was just another day in my pregnancy and my membranes never ruptured...but we'll likely never know. We are still waiting to get the placental pathology and Aidan's autopsy I will have to update at a later date as to what my doctors think was the "most" likely cause. I'm not counting on getting many more answers.

If in fact I did rupture at this point in my pregnancy, I'm glad I didn't know about it. If I had, I would have gone in for a check up, the doctors may have seen very little fluid surrounding my poor little Aidan. They would have advised me at that time to terminate, scaring me with the possibility of infection. We would have likely done it at that point...the risks of infection with ruptured membranes are high and not something to take lightly...especially with my heart defect. So, thankfully we continued on for 27 more days after this in relative surety that we were going to have a baby...and it was bliss. If I can be glad for nothing else, I'm glad I got to see my Aidan. I'm glad we got to know what he looked like, and that I can make it to (at least) 23 weeks of pregnancy without my heart failing on me. Those are my consolation prizes.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Poor Husband

Less than 4 weeks after losing his son, my husband gets a cold. He is currently a snotty-nosed, sore-throat, heavy-chested, mess.

Talk about life kicking you when you're down.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Every night I save you

When Brian and I first moved in together we watched the entire series of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' and it's spin-off 'Angel'. He had never seen them, and they were (and still are) my favourite shows ever. When we had finished watching them in their entirity, over a 7 month period, we almost felt lost without them. I would often say to Brian "I miss Buffy".

We made a deal that, when I was pregnant we could watch them again. At the time we knew it would be a few years before that happened, so it felt like a good bargin. Fast forward almost 2 years and the first thing I said to Brian after peeing on the stick was, "So when are we going to start watching 'Buffy' & 'Angel'?"...and he knew what I meant. He smiled so wide and his response was "REALLY??"

We started watching them when I started bedrest. It felt right. Here I was, needing to lie around all day and keep myself busy. I think I finished the first season in under a week.

I was on the last season of 'Buffy', and the second last season of 'Angel' when Aidan was born & died. It was the last TV show I watched before Brian went to bed and I started to go into labour.

Why am I telling you about this? Well it's my blog so I'll tell you what I want to tell you. But I was thinking today of a conversation that occurred in 'Buffy'. In the 3rd episode of the 6th season, Buffy returns from the dead (oh would that it were so easy) and a man who loves her gets to tell her about the guilt he felt after she died. I have always thought, even before Aidan, that it was one of the most honest, and beautiful, TV conversations I've ever heard.

So here it is:

I want you to know I did save you.
Not when it counted, of course.
But after that.
Every night after that.
I'd see it all again, do something different.
Faster or more clever, you know?
Dozens of times,
lots of different ways ...
Every night I save you.

Although I know in my mind it was impossible, not my fault, and that I did the best I could... my mind I save you...every night I save you.


As I have already mentioned, I worried a lot about my pregnancy with Aidan, even before there was anything to really worry about. I found a good quote today in the paper regarding worry. It's something I will have to revisit in the future.

"Decide whether or not the goal is worth the risks involved. If it is, stop worrying" -Amelia Earhart

Wonder if she would say the same thing now?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A poem that isn't mine...but that I love.

I wish I had written this, but I didn't. It's by a woman named Julie and I ripped it off "Glow In the Woods", although Julie posted it on her own blog which I can't get access to because it's private. But I loved it so much and it so exactly says what I hope one day I will Thank You's nice to see a positive light from all this darkness.


Say you are injured deeply. Cut to the core and then split right through,
so you can see the sky through your middle.

And it really, really hurts, so much so that you're not quite sure you can stand it.

And it keeps on hurting.

Every blessed, pained minute.

Sometimes you have to concentrate on breathing just so the seconds can pass.

Some might suggest that you let the wound be stitched up.
Close it up so that you can't even tell it's there

(well, except for the big scar and the dented-in hollow place)

and try to act like it didn't happen.
Patch it, spackle it, and move on, Missy!

But you have a fascination with what's been exposed.
And you don't want to act like it didn't happen
Or that you are the same.

So you tend and clean the wound, and it does heal.
But you don't let it close up.

And if you do that,
do you then have a special window into your innermost center?
A place you can expose to others, if you have a mind to, and say

Look, I was wounded like this, but I can still walk around, and isn't that cool?

A lens through which you can catch glimpses of the eternal?
Can it be a good thing?
Or even a thing of beauty?

Is the opposite of closure

An opening?

Both sides

My son was not the first dead baby I held in my arms.

Crazy, isn't it?

He was not the first dead baby I washed, dressed, took photos of, or sent down to the morgue. And, if I can ever find the strength to go back to my old job, he likely won't be the last.

There are lots of Babylost Mamas and Dadas out there. I remember a few particularly 'busy' couple of days in the NICU where we would run out, or come close to running out, of the plaster we kept on hand to make feet & hand moulds for the babies in our care who were dying. Nurses would be running around asking each other about the bereavement cart where all the memory making supplies are kept. "Do you have the Bereavement cart? I need it in room 1". Then someone else would respond "Oh, check room 4, I think so-and-so is almost finished with it". Seriously, we would have multiple deaths happening almost simultaneously in different parts of the unit. Multiple Babylost Mamas and Dadas all around me, issued their passports to this 'land of suck' in the space of a few hours or days.

So I knew even before Aidan was a reality, that babylost happens to people. Many people. I just didn't really believe it could happen to me. It wasn't that I didn't think of it happening. I imagined it. Very vividly in fact. Probably in many more shades of technicolour than most first time mommies. My job as an NICU nurse afforded me ample opportunity to ponder what it's like to be in the sad minority who don't take home a baby after giving birth. Add that knowledge to my heart defect, which has never left me with the illusion that bad things can't happen to me.

So it almost surprises me that I can still feel a sense of shock that my baby died. I am surprised at my own surprise. That I still stop short sometimes thinking, "really? No wait, REALLY?...Hold the MUST be joking...MY baby died...really MY baby?!" I really actually thought that because I worried so much about something bad happening, that I went over it a hundred times in my mind, that I imagined how sad I would be, and how painful it would be, that somehow, that worry, would protect me from it ACTUALLY happening.

I know, you are shaking your head at my own naivety. And really, naive is never a word I ever would have associated with me. I am not blissfully ignorant of the tragedies that life doles out willy-nilly to some (and not to others). But, I honestly thought, deep in my heart of hearts, that maybe, just maybe, no, probably, we would have a completely normal and healthy pregnancy. Despite my initial cautious attitude, and guarded happiness, even after the first 2 or 3 big bleeds, I really thought things would be as Dr. R. said..."fine".

On the other hand, I sometimes can't believe how prepared I was. When we found out about my placenta condition, we turned to Dr. Google. However, beyond telling us that it affects about 0.05% of all pregnancies, and that the outcomes were "poor", Google kind of threw up his hands and said "I got nothin'". When Google can't find happy stories for you, you know you're screwed.

So, I research Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep photography, something I had been familiar with in my job, but now knew that I might need it myself. I ordered the smallest baby clothes I could find off of a preemie website. Just so my baby would have something to wear that I picked out, and I prayed that the little package would arrive in mail in time (they did). I packed a hospital bag at 21 weeks, "just in case". I researched how far along in pregnancy you have to make it in order to qualify for maternity leave (2o weeks). I'm sad to admit this, but I looked into cemeteries and cremation, while I was still pregnant. I started reading dead baby blogs, just to know what to expect, in case, while Aidan's heart was still beating. I did all this while still arranging and discussing doctors appointments for weeks 24 and 26 of my pregnancy. I did this while still signing on to check my "Due in August 2010" baby board. I imagined Aidan being born, if not healthy, at least with a chance, while still planning for him not to be here.

I guess what I am trying to explain, in my round-about kind of way, is that Aidan has shown me how worry/optimism, shock/acceptance, agony/joy can all exist in the same space at the same time. Although I worried about this pregnancy, and will likely worry more about the next one, I also had hope for Aidan, just as I will have hope the next time (please please please) the pregnancy test shows two lines. Just as I am having a hard time coming to terms with the fact my baby died, I have also searched for knowledge and wisdom from mommies out there who have experienced it too. And just as much as it hurts deep in my soul (or whatever you want to call it) that Aidan is gone and won't come back...I would never, ever, no never, trade the time I had with him for anything else in this whole world.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I found out about this from reading the awesome blog Glow in the Woods. It's a Wordle and it compresses all the words in your blog and puts them into a picture based on the frequency of how often they are used. Since my blog has so far covered only three weeks of the joy/pain of having/losing Aidan, I figure I might have them created on a reoccuring basis. See how my journey of words, appears in words, over time.

I think this picture is a fairly accurate representation of what has happened over the past few months. It is fitting that the words "Aidan" and "Baby" are the most prominent, because that is currently what is most prominent in my head and in my heart.

I also think it's interesting that the word pregnancy, supposed, and ultrasound are so large. My pregnancy was 'suppose' to end ultrasounds were not 'suppose' to look so, well, wrong. I am getting caught up on the word 'suppose' alot these days so it's fitting to see it that way here.

Wordle: Baby Aidan

It's Wednesday again

I birthed Aidan three weeks ago today...and 54 minutes later he died.

I want to go back to three weeks and 1 day ago...when he was still alive. Still possible, still inside, still the in the future, not the past.

Wednesdays are hard.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Milk for the Babylost

I have been ravenously reading other 'Babylost Mama' blogs and postings these past few days. It makes me feel not so alone. And as you can see, I'm even starting to learn the lingo. As my husband and I quickly came to realize, there is no word for people who have lost a child. People who have lost spouses are widows or widowers, children who have lost parents are orphans, but the English language does not have a word for people who have lost children. Perhaps because the experience is so one could think of a word fitting enough to call it. Writing this makes me wonder if any other language has a word for what I am now? 'Bereaved mother' doesn't seem to cut it.

However, no matter, English speaking bloggers have had to come up with a word for it. So I am now 'officially' a Babylost Mama. I wish I could figure out how to return my badge. Unlike in Girl Guides, I feel I did nothing to deserve it.

On these blogs or postings from others who are Babylost, there is often a common practical element. What does one do with baby things that have been bought? Does one return shower gifts? How do you send a notice to people to cancel the baby shower? How does one go about shutting down the popular 'pregnancy ticker' one has posted on facebook or other Internet sites? However, the most commonality of all, is what does a Babylost Mama do when her milk comes in? You can probably read HUNDREDS of postings from women who are devastated when their milk comes it. To them it is a slap in the face. It is a horrific reminder that you no longer have a baby. It also hurts like hell, in the very real physical sense...that part kinda sucks too.

I realize I may be in the minority on this one...but I LOVE my milk. I LOVE that my boobs got all hot and bothered two days after Aidan was born. It did hurt, don't get me wrong. My breasts were ginormous (and they aren't small to begin with), and felt like bowling balls. But I loved seeing my body work right. My pregnancy, really almost from day one, did not go off as planned. In fact it kind of went off the rails, and ended in a bit of a train wreck (although Aidan was perfect and adorable). So for me, seeing my milk come in, seeing my body respond the way it was supposed to, was almost a relief.

In my earlier posting today I wrote a letter to my heart, really trying to make peace with my perceptions of its inherent shortcomings. I am working on this...probably always will be. I was afraid for years before getting pregnant that something bad would happen, because I was afraid to trust my body with something so important and physically challenging. I feared that I would die, or that my heart would fail and it would be a choice between me or the baby, or that I would have a baby, but my heart would be forever damaged. I imagined miscarriages due to my body's inability to adapt to pregnancy. These were my initial fears. With my job in the NICU, I learned to fear so many other things. Genetic defects, congenital defects, prematurity. I personally didn't consider these things quite as likely for me though. I thought anything that went wrong with my pregnancy would statistically likely originate with my heart. That this is not what happened, is in turns making me furious (How the HELL could I have SOMETHING ELSE go WRONG??), but also helping me cope (It was NOT my heart's was not something I could have foreseen or avoided. I did not knowingly place my baby in danger).

So seeing that milk come in, right on schedule, and with a vengeance, made me happy. As I said to a few people (jokingly...but really deadly serious), "My placenta and my uterus get a failing grade...but by golly wow, my boobs are going to do their damn job!". So if I could add a side thank you to my earlier posting regarding my heart..."Thank you boobs" did great. Hopefully (please, please, please), we will be in need of your services again.

I'm actually enjoying my milk so much, I'm having a hard time letting it go. My breasts no longer hurt on a regular basis. I could easily stop poking and prodding them, and then my milk would dry up completely and be no more. But this, in my heart, is sort of like letting go another part of Aidan. If my body stops producing milk for him, then my body has forgotten him. It's funny I feel no attachment to my baby weight this way. I look forward to fitting comfortably into my old jeans again. My milk however is a different story. Perhaps it is because it's ONLY tied to him, I would not be producing milk if it wasn't for him. I could however, pile on weight all on my own.

Maybe letting go of my milk would be easier if I had one stretch mark to show from this pregnancy. I know this is a typically un-postpartum thing to say. Most women complain "oh my God I HATE my stretch marks...they are so hideous/ugly/unsightly" etc. In my previous life, I would have agreed. But now I know different. Stretch marks are proof you made it far enough in pregnancy to have hopes of a living child afterwards. They are proof your child grew inside you. They are badges of honour (okay, okay, ugly, unsightly badges of honour...but still...). Therefore I wish I had at least one stretch mark (I'd taken a million if it meant I could have Aidan back). If I could have just one however, I would name it "Aidan's mark". So because I have no stretch marks to show for my pregnancy, I cling to my milk. It's all I have left.

How it all went down (Part 4)

February 8th 2010
This day was not special in my pregnancy per say. It was just another Monday where I was lying around in the warm winter sunshine, on my blow up bed which we decided to leave inflated since my last big bleed in case I needed to lie on something soft yet washable again, on my TV room floor. It was however, a special day for a few of my best friends. Their baby was born late in the afternoon. All natural delivery, drugs not included, after an 18+ hour labour. She was perfect and beautiful and they named her Ava. Although I was happy and excited for them...I cried. I cried because I wanted that assurance for my baby. I wanted my baby to be here, to be okay, to know that everything was going to be all right. Perhaps I knew, even at that time, that those assurances were never going to come for my Aidan.

February 10th 2010
I will forever remember this as the one and only "good doctor's appointment" in the entire pregnancy. Brian and I arrived at the Special Pregnancy Program building and were taken in almost immediately by nurse Kristie. She went over everything that had happened in my pregnancy so far. We discussed my heart condition, all the bleeding I'd had, all my medications etc. Then for the fun part...she had me hop up on the ultrasound table and got the squirty goo going. She started rolling it around and there was Aidan! He looked great!

We did not know it at the time, but this was the last time we would see him looking 'normal'. I'm so glad Brian got video of it. We have about 45 seconds of video of Aidan sucking his left thumb, with his right hand up near his forehead. It was so cute and amazing, because, not only did it look 'just like a real baby thing to do' but that is how Brian often relaxes before going to sleep. We were in love. He not only WAS ours, he was doing things that were recognizable to us. Even Kristie, the nurse, said how cute he was. The senior ultrasound tech came in to check on Kristie's work. As a nurse, Kristie is not a formally trained ultrasound tech, so the two of them checked out my pictures. This ultrasound tech confirmed to us that, no there was no 'second sac' present...(she scoffed at the idea...I'm sure thinking thoughts like "what stupid radiologist would think this was a blighted ovum??") The tech confirmed I had a large SCH. It measured at 8.5cm x 7cm x 2cm (yikes!).

Next we spoke with Dr. R. who is a fetal medicine specialists. After reviewing everything, he turns to us and says "So why are you here?" At first we were a bit confused. What did he mean why am I here? What we eventually figured out, was that he was curious as to why I was in the FETAL medicine clinic? I fit more in the MATERNAL medicine clinic due to my heart condition. He didn't feel that the large SCH required a consultation with him. He felt that the clot wasn't affecting the placenta, it would likely "bleed itself out" and that while he couldn't promise anything, "things would likely be fine". He wanted to keep me off work until at least mid-March in order for everything to heal properly, but he seemed hopeful. We went home that day with our spirits flying high. We were going to have a baby! Oh, Dr. R, how I wish you had been right. How I wish everything had turned out just fine.

After our appointment we went home and later that night people came to visit. My in-laws and my mother both dropped by, and were excited to see our short video of Aidan. Our friend Edward also came over, with his new baby Ava, my friend, her mommy, being too sore to visit. We would have gone to see them, but bed rest law states that visiting friends is just asking for trouble. So I got to cuddle Ava for the first time, sitting on my own couch instead of theirs, in my TV room. It was nice, thinking that in a few months this would be me. I would be cuddling my own baby.

The nicest part for me however, was not the cuddles with Ava (although those were nice), it was seeing Brian with her. Picturing Brian being a new Dad in a few months. Picturing Brian changing diapers, and falling asleep with his baby on his chest. Picturing Brian kissing and cuddling his baby son or daughter. I love seeing Brian with children...he really is amazing with them. He deserves to be a Dad. We would have made awesome parents. We did make awesome was just too short.

This day marks the beginning of the best 29 days of my pregnancy. Although I was still on bed rest for most of it, I spent hours each day looking at baby bedroom furniture, bedding sets, strollers, car seats. We paroled me off bed rest for an hour or two a few times in order to go baby stuff 'looking' (I refused to buy before 24 weeks). We began to talk of "when" the baby arrives rather than "if".

Our parents started to bug us about "when can we tell people?" Perhaps a part of me knew not to get too excited. We never gave them permission to tell anyone until after the bad news arrived...and mostly they adhered to our wishes. I oscillate between being grateful we did this, and sad. Grateful because when we did finally tell people it was easier not to have to take our good news back. We never had to run into a situation where someone asked "So how's Emily doing? Do you know the sex yet? When's the baby shower?"

But it's kind of sad too, because Aidan didn't get the celebration from people that he deserved. They only heard about him shortly before, or just after, he died. Although I know people were greatly saddened for us, a part of me now wishes they were sad FOR THEMSELVES. I feel that if they had known about him weeks in advance, if I had been one of those pregnant women who proclaims outloud "I'm having a baby!!" the minute she sees double lines on the pregnancy test, that they would miss him more. I feel like he was cheated somehow, that people we know aren't more sad that they never got to meet him. Sad that the baby they would have met, and held, and cuddled, is no more. Sad that there will be no looking forward to a baby shower, or seeing my hugely pregnant belly, or waiting around to find out if it is a girl or a boy (we were going to find out the sex for ourselves, but hadn't decided if we would tell others yet). Sad that our little family will, for now, remain two instead of three. I want them to miss him like I do. I want him remembered in others hearts instead of just mine.

Okay, getting sad now...will continue the chronology later.

A thank you letter to my Heart

Dear Heart,

I heard yesterday from the doctor that you did well during our pregnancy. You showed no signs of failing, no signs of tiring, no signs of 'acting up' or getting us into trouble. Although you needed to beat faster which sometimes scared me, and I did feel a little more tired than usual, you responded to Aidan's growing needs wonderfully. You pumped the blood to our body and to our baby in a way that allowed him to grow and me to remain healthy.

So I just wanted to say "Thank You". Thank you and "I'm sorry". Why "I'm sorry"? I'm sorry, because I never put much faith in you. Heart, you were formed differently. So differently that you would not have continued to beat unless doctors stepped in to fix you. Because of this, you scare me. I have always been afraid to count on you, that despite the many years of faithful service you have provided, I fear one day you will just stop keeping up with the rest of our organs. You will go AWOL, you will quit, you will fail to show up to the big game, dressed and ready to play. I'm scared to count on you, fearing you will throw in the towel and say "naw, I just don't feel like it..."

But Heart, I owe you an apology. You stepped up. You did what I demanded of you. Aidan got good blood flow. Aidan grew. Despite the challenges of our pregnancy (and there were many), you kept up. You never failed, you didn't let me down. You stayed strong during our natural birth (and yes I know that was difficult). You may have required a bit of oxygen and fluids afterwards, but no matter, you kept right on pumping. By the next week you allowed me to climb hills and go for long walks. The doctor did not feel that you contributed to Aidan's early birth. She felt that if it had been up to you Heart, Aidan would have stayed with us much longer.

So thank you Heart. I must learn to have more faith in you. I must remember that you are stronger than I imagine, tougher than I need, more trustworthy than I have ever given you credit for. I hope that this experience will bring us closer, that you and I will continue to work well together, and that it leads to a beautiful new friendship. Thank you Heart...I appreciate your continued dedication and service. I hope that one day we will be able to work together on a new baby. One who we will feel strong and capable of physically nurturing, who will be able to grow inside for many more weeks, and who will be born healthy and capable of living. I love you and thank you my Heart, you are a truly remarkable organ.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Revisiting Mother's Day

Okay, there was something else that I wanted to touch on in my post from yesterday regarding Mother's Day but just didn't have the stamina. I'll do it now because I've found another person's words who gave me the energy to do so.

It's regarding the boy who I looked after in the NICU. On his mother's comment of "he must know how much he has to live for". As a bereaved mommy, it's hard not to feel utterly crushed reading a statement like that. Because if her son is still alive because he has a lot to live for, then what does that say about Aidan? What does that say about anyone who doesn't die happy and content and full filled in their beds at a ripe old age? Did all the rest just give up?

I found a posting on a blog entitled Glow in the Woods,
written by a woman named Kate who is so much more eloquent than I. She writes:

Baby A is such a fighter. Baby B—what a miracle! Baby C? Which Baby C? Oh, that one. He did not survive. He just wasn’t exceptional enough. When it was all done Don Cherry asked him what happened out there on the ice and he shrugged and said “I guess the other guys just wanted it more than I did.”

Why the hell did Aidan end up as Baby C? What did he do wrong? Why did he, and me, and we, get a failing grade? We worked hard to keep him here. We did everything right. Why didn't Aidan and I 'prove them all wrong'? Why is life so monstrously unfair? Because I can tell you, that woman's son is not alive because he wanted it more than Aidan, that woman is not a better, or more deserving mother than anyone else. Her son is alive because of all the oxygen, blood transfusions, medications and tube feeds that have been pumped into his little body (me being one of the pumpers). Her son is alive because of the millions dollars that have been spent on medical technology, and in employing medical personnel (me again!) to care for him. Her son is alive because someone else's child DIED so her son could have a liver. Her son is alive only because his body is not badly damaged enough (yet) to fail. Has he survived a horrible ordeal last 11 months? Hell yes...but not because he (or his parents) wanted it more.

You see, that is all that ever separates us from those who have died...those who are living just have bodies that are not yet at the point where they no longer work. I learned that much as a nurse. It doesn't matter how much you want to live, how much you are loved, or wanted, or needed...if your body doesn't conform to the laws of biology, and medical technology does not exist, or fails, to make up for your body's shortcomings, then you die. Simple as that.

So because that didn't happen for my son, I will only ever have "if only..."

A beautiful foot

Oh I also forgot to mention the nicest thing in my post today. On Friday we got two photos from Ashley who is a photographer from the organization "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep". For those of you who don't know they are professional photographers who donate their time to take photos of babies and small children who are likely to die or who have already passed away.

Ashley came to the hospital on the afternoon of Aidan's birth & death and took some lovely photos of us with him. We are still waiting to get all the photos back. It takes awhile because they have quite a bit of touching up to do. Aidan was quite bruised and floppy and well, dead looking, when Ashley got there. I'm not expecting miracles...but I'm hoping they can touch at least a couple of photos up enough to make him look presentable.

So, she sent me a couple of them just as a preview. The first one she sent was kind of sad. Although beautiful, Aidan does look quite 'dead' in it.

The second however was perfect. It's amazing how his big toe looks JUST LIKE BRIAN'S! At 23 weeks Aidan had many of his daddy's familial traits. I can't really see anything of me in him physically...but I like to think he would have had my winning personality ;-)

A Monday's musings

This morning I had to make sure I was awake by 10am. This is the first time I've had to be awake for anything in a long time. The reason was because my cardiologist was going to call me to go over my last ECHO results. I haven't gotten to it yet in my pregnancy story, but I had an ECHO done on my own heart when I was 19 weeks pregnant. I had a cardiology appointment booked for the week after Aidan died which I never attended where I would have got the results, so my cardiologist very nicely agreed to call me at home today in order to go over them.

In short, my heart is its usual totally abnormal, but totally normal for me, self. What does that mean? Basically at 19 weeks pregnant my heart was actually coping with the extra load of pregnancy pretty well. It didn't show signs of starting to fail. Yeah! So the years and months prior to becoming pregnant that I worried about my heart causing my baby harm were all for naught. My baby likely died because my uterus, placenta and amniotic fluid gave out and not my heart! Super.

All sarcasm aside, this is good news and I was happy to get it. It's really the first good news regarding my pregnancy I've heard in a long time. What it means is that some day, hopefully, with any luck, I'll be able to get pregnant again (please please please), and my heart will be able to get me and my baby to the end of a healthy pregnancy. Now all we have to do is get the rest of my body on board...yes I'm talking to you uterus.

After this happy news, I moped around for awhile...then started cleaning my bathroom, which progressed to me sweeping our upstairs hallway ceilings for dust bunnies. (I'm not sure I've ever actually done it was quite productive). This progressed to sweeping away the cobwebs in Aidan's room...or what would have been Aidan's room. This led me to look around at this almost empty room and wonder "what the heck are we going to do with it?"

This is one of the practical considerations when you lose a family member...what do you do with their room? Since 'the bad news' at 17 weeks, we haven't really even gone in what would have been "the baby's room". Brian had almost completely emptied it out in the weeks prior to that and we had hoped to start buying baby stuff when I got to 'viability' at 24 weeks. Since that never happened, we are now at a loss of what to do with this empty room. Do we paint it and put a chair and bookcases in it and call it 'the library' or 'the reading room'? Do I give in to Brian's desire for a treadmill and make it a workout room? Do we just put back the junk that was in there in the first place? Do we leave it empty and hope that in another few months we'll be pregnant again and begin to fill it with another baby's stuff? It's just another heartache to decide. Right now I keep thinking of it as Aidan's room. Perhaps when I stop thinking about it that way, I'll be able to see it as something else.

It makes me really glad we didn't buy any baby stuff yet. What would we have done with it? Would I have been able to use "Aidan's things" for another baby? Would we have had to return things to the store...that would have been awkward and depressing. I'm glad we have a few things...but I'm glad that the things we had he actually USED...a blanket and the small clothes I got from an online preemie store. If we'd had a stroller or a crib just waiting to be used at home, I'm not sure I could stand looking at those representations of the hope we'd had and lost.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day to me.

Yep, it's that Hallmark inspired, somewhat contrived, but still monumentally painful holiday for all of us bereaved mommies out there. Mother's Day.

I got a bouquet of pinky-white roses and a nice card from Brian (& Aidan), and a gift certificate for the movie theatres from my own mother.

I wish my boy was still here though...I was suppose to be 26 weeks pregnant today. This was the week we were aiming to get to in order to have an MRI to see if Aidan's lungs had developed at all. It was also the week I was going to consider hospitalizing myself if an emergency C-section would have helped Aidan's chances. I keep thinking of life that way: "suppose" to vs. "not suppose" to. I'm suppose to be x weeks pregnant, I'm suppose to be decorating a nursery, I'm suppose to still be working and looking forward to maternity leave. I'm not suppose to be able to fit into these jeans, I'm not suppose to be planning our summer vacation with only Brian and myself in mind, I'm not suppose to be this sad. It's hard to get over that. It's so hard not to imagine the rest of our future in terms of suppose to vs. not suppose to. Aidan is suppose to be here...he's not suppose to be dead.

On a totally different note however, this week in our city's paper there was an entire section dedicated to the children's hospital where I work. They do it every year around Mother's Day/Nurse's Week. It probably helps to draw big donors, and it provides convenient heartwarming/uplifting/never-say-die stories for journalists to write about. Plus the photo ops are WAY cute.

In the section it had two stories that interested me/really bothered me. The first one was about triplets who were born at 25 1/2 weeks gestation (2 weeks more than Aidan) and are now 2 1/2 years old. All three of them have significant cerebral palsy and require intensive therapy. These children were featured with their parents who expressed how much these children are loved and how much they have invested into taking care of them, and how happy they are to have them alive. All three children are described as likely to need wheelchairs, two of them haven't started to speak (likely because they can't hear), and all are described as 'not having much control over their bodies'.

The second story that affected me I had a more personal interest in. It was about a little boy I took care of in our NICU, who was also born very prematurely. He is almost 11 months old now and has never left hospital. He had a number of problems resulting from his prematurity that caused his liver to shut down. He ended up needing and getting a liver transplant just before I went off on sick leave in January. His mother wrote in the paper how she tells people who are amazed at her son's continual ability to recover from near death episodes by saying "he must know how much he has to live for".

Of course, both of these stories made me think of us and Aidan. How, with a few more weeks of pregnancy we may have been in that situation. We may have had a child with special (and time consuming and expensive and heart wretching) needs that we would be responsible for the rest of our lives. We may have had a son whose day to day future was uncertain. We may have had to watch Aidan struggle and depend on medical technology to keep him alive, only to watch him 'code' multiple times or be faced with making the decision to 'stop' treatment.

I read these articles and while I wish, more than anything in my whole life, that we still had Aidan with us...I wouldn't bring him back if it meant he had to live like those children. As much as I want him back...I want him back with a future that has possibilities...not one that has him (and us) struggling so much. But it's also hard to watch these mothers and fathers, SO HAPPY that their children are alive, even with all their trials and tribulations. Am I missing I horrible mother to be 'glad' my son is dead, rather than suffering (but living) in a hospital, or confined to a body that will never do his bidding. I mean, don't get me wrong, the last 2 1/2 weeks since Aidan died have been the most painful of my life...but were they worse than watching my baby spend 11 months in hospital hooked up to machines? Were they worse than taking care of my wheel-chair bound child for the rest of my life? It makes me wonder why these parents are (or have) struggled so hard to keep their preemies alive. Death is awful...but I feel, if I had to watch Aidan struggle like that, it may have been worse.

The newspaper section was supposed to be very moving and positive...but I felt so sad reading it. I wrestled with this problem as an NICU nurse, but it was never on such a personal level. My nursing buddies and I would often talk about the children we felt were going to have a very rough time of it...children who we felt bad for continually 'saving' with medical technology. The children who we, as nurses, felt were 'better off' dead, whose existence was so filled with pain, infections, medical technology, procedures, and so very little hope. Perhaps that's what makes Aidan's passing easier to bear...we had so little hope that he would survive. From 17 weeks onwards we knew we were fighting a losing battle. Maybe if he'd made it to this week, born at a gestational age that had more 'hope' attached to it, it would have been harder to let him go. It's still hard of course...but I can be glad he didn't suffer. That was our gift to him.

Friday, May 7, 2010

How it all went down (Part 3)

January 22nd-23rd 2010
After a week of trying to just go back to normal and not worry about bleeding, I was starting to feel more confident. Work had gone well that week and I was feeling good.

However, Friday January 22nd, 10 weeks + 5 days, I woke up after a night shift at around 12:30 in the afternoon. Hadn't slept much, but I was hungry. After a quick snack, I thought I might try to go back to bed when I felt it again...a gush...looked down and sure enough I was bleeding again...and this time it was A LOT. I grabbed the phone and called Brian who was at work and then I lay down with my bottom half on the tile floor in the bathroom and my top half on the carpet of my bedroom. I tried to remain as still as possible, because every time I moved I would gush more blood. It was awful...I didn't know whether to call 911. I was scared and alone. Thankfully Brian made it home in record time.

It took over an hour for the bleeding to slow, but this time, Brian and I were prepared. We had rented a doppler in order to monitor the baby's heartbeat and when Brian used it we could still hear that wonderful whoosh-whoosh-whoosh of Aidan's heart. We knew however that we needed an ultrasound, so the next morning we headed to our local hospital (for the 3rd time) in order to check on our baby.

It once again took ALL day, but we were finally told that the SCH had gotten bigger...A LOT bigger. They didn't give me all the dimensions this time, but they did say that while the baby looked fine, the length of the SCH was OVER 7CM!!! That means that it better than TRIPLED in length. Yikes! The ER doc informed us that after consulting with an OB, he recommended 2-3 weeks of bed rest. And so the bed rest (couch rest) event began.

Oh and with all this, I missed my sister-in-laws birthday. Sorry Lisa.

February 2nd 2010
Made it to 12 weeks + 3 days. I'm still pregnant and today is the day for my NT scan. We've already seen peanut Aidan a few times at this point (this will in fact be my 4th ultrasound), however this is traditionally the time when most pregnant women first see their babies and we are excited. Still scared of course, but I've spent the last week and a half lying or sitting around my house in hopes that the clot has decided to shrink and not cause my peanut any more problems.

So after downing the requisite 6000 gallons of water (whatever, it felt like it), I'm lying on the ultrasound table with my bladder about to burst and having that lovely ultrasound goo squirted on me. The tech is (as usual) a taciturn middle aged lady with zero personality. Do they teach them that in ultrasound tech school, how to be as unfriendly as possible? She gets the pictures she needs and then I (THANKFULLY) am allowed to pee, before Brian gets to come in for a look see. Given what happens over the next few weeks I will be forever grateful to Brian for being at all my appointments. I think it helped him to be more connected to Aidan.

Sadly all is not right already. Although Aidan is measuring perfect at this point (nuchal thickness 1.1 mm, who's mommy's good boy??!!), we later learn that my IPS blood work is not. I won't go into detail about it now, but basically IPS blood work can indicate not just problems with the baby, but problems with the placenta. In fact, when the baby is measuring perfect and has no other markers for genetic or congenital defects (like our little man), the likely cause of wonky blood work is a malfunctioning placenta. We don't know this yet of we are just happy at this point that our baby looks good.

February 3rd 2010
It's Thursday and right after Brian gets home from work around 5pm I know something isn't right. My belly is uncomfortable, hard feels just the way it does when I'm about to start bleeding...

And once again, I'm on my back with my lower half in my bathroom and my upper half on our carpeted downstairs hallway with blood gushing out of me. It's once again, awful. We have our doppler, however, and from this we know that Aidan is still with us. The bleeding is heavy, perhaps even more so that last time. We spend most of the evening with me lying on the floor, with towels under me, hoping the bleeding will slow. It does eventually and I fall asleep in our TV room, on the air mattress Brian has set up to avoid any bleeding in our bed. My belly still hurts. Fortunately tomorrow I have a doctor's appointment.

February 4th 2010
After waiting an hour or more in her waiting room, my doctor sees us. Although she is nice and listens, she really can't do any more for me. With my heart defect and my so far complex pregnancy, I think she is relieved when I tell her we have a high risk OB appointment scheduled at the Special Pregnancy Program next week. She does however tell us she already got the ultrasound results from the NT scan on Wednesday. That radiologist reported that while there is one 'normal' fetus, there is also a 'large empty sac, probably a blighted ovum that is about the size of the sac the normal fetus is in which will likely resolve itself'. We are kind of other ultrasound we had prior to our NT scan reported a blighted ovum...and why didn't this radiologist comment on the humungous SCH I have sitting in my uterus threatening my baby? I think my doctor is a bit stumped too...but she can only tell us what's on the report. We wonder if maybe our baby was supposed to be a twin. I always wanted twins (actually I wanted to BE a twin when I was a kid), but it's probably better for my heart that I'm only pregnant with one.

I also ask her about 'bed rest'. Since I'm still bleeding from the 'big bleed' I had yesterday, she says I'll probably be on bed rest awhile longer. This is supposed to be lying, on my back or on either side. I can wiggle my toes, pump and roll my ankles...but really I'm supposed to be a still as possible. I go home and lay down and continue to hope peanut is going to be okay.

Next the Special Pregnancy Program...where we learn just how 'special' we are, and how the more 'special' you are, the less that can be done to save your baby.

How it all went down (Part Deux)

Alright, here is the rest of the story continued. We'll see if I can't finish we might need a part 'trois'.

December 21st 2009 - January 12th 2010
So this was a nice part of my pregnancy I suppose...sort of. I started feeling the general queasiness that signals you are pregnant. I had the 'dry heaves' a lot. Fortunately I only threw up about 5-6 times in total during my pregnancy. I know there are many pregnant women out there who throw up like ALL the time, so I considered myself lucky that I wasn't one of them.

However, I did continue to have spotting off and on. It was really nerve racking. I tried to reassure myself that "if you were really miscarrying there would be a TON more blood...this is really nothing". Plus all the pregnancy books, magazines, websites state that while it's not USUAL to spot during a pregnancy, it by no means indicates that you are going to I tried to get on with it and not worry.

I, however, did get really sick just after the start of January. One of the worst colds I've ever had. I had one of those awful coughs that causes you to feel like your ribs are breaking and that breathing is a chore. Nurse me knows it's impossible, but I actually worried "am I going to cough the baby out?" My cold likely had NOTHING to do with what followed...but whenever things go wrong it's human nature to look back and wonder what caused it. I wish I hadn't been sick before this all started.

January 13th 2010
I've basically slept all day because I have to go in for a night shift. It's my first shift back after being off with my cold. It's about 4pm and I'm in shower, doing my thing, when all of a sudden I feel 'odd' feels like I've started my period. Wait a second...I'm pregnant...I'm not supposed to have a period. I look down and sure enough there is blood running down my leg and turning the water red. I quickly hose myself off and jump out of the shower grabing a towel as I run to the top of the stairs and yell for Brian who is sleeping in the basement (he's home sick too...thank goodness or I would have to call him from work). Once rousing him from his nap, I'm shaking and crying and getting on the phone to work to tell them I can't come in. I mange to blurt out to the nurse in charge that I'm having a miscarriage. After that we jump into the car and head to our local hospital.

I will skip all the boring details, because, come on, we all know hospitals are the MOST boring/terrifying places on earth. I have come out of this with a better appreciation of how horrific waiting for news is, when you know there could be something really wrong. Finally after hours, a nice young resident rolls the portable ultrasound machine into the room and after saying "I'm not very good with this thing, but let's try to find your baby"...he immediately finds our little peanut on the screen. I'm now 9 weeks + 4 days, and it's amazing how much peanut has changed since our last ultrasound at 6 weeks + 1 day. Peanut (or Aidan as we now know) actually resembles his nickname, he looks like a peanut...with arms and legs. I'm so relieved to see him there, but the resident informs us that we should book an outpatient ultrasound for tomorrow to figure out where the bleeding is coming from.

Thankfully by this time, its been hours since I started bleeding and it's starting to slow to a stop. There is actually less blood that I had originally feared. We go home and try to get some sleep unaware of the roller-coster ride we've just jumped on.

January 14th 2010
Having an ultrasound booked as an outpatient takes pretty much as long as the wait yesterday. First we wait for the ultrasound, then we have to wait for the results. Hours later we find out I have a 'small' subchorionic hemorrhage (SCH) which is measuring 2cm x 0.9cm x 1.7cm. Pretty much as large as Aidan is at this point. What is a subchorionic hemorrhage you ask? Well you're on the Internet so you could look it up for yourself, but the simple explanation is that it's bleeding that occurs between the uterine wall and the chorionic membrane (the sac that the baby is in). If large and in the right position, SCHs can cause vaginal bleeding, or sometimes if small they are only detected on ultrasound. If an SCH gets really large it can affect the attachment of the developing placenta or cause premature rupture of membranes, basically putting the pregnancy at a high risk of miscarriage.

We only looked this up for ourselves afterwards however, so we heard it for the first time when the ER doctor states that although he "can't promise" these SCHs often "resolve themselves". I ask if I should be on bed rest. I have a job in which I need to stand for hours a that the best thing at this point? He says standing shouldn't affect it one way or the other and writes me a note to cover the two days of work I've been off. We go home feeling like we've dodged a bullet...wish that we had. I often wonder if I'd been on bed rest at this point, would things have improved? Did the following week that I spent doing my usual thing make everything worse? Probably not...but we'll never know.

Okay this is turning out to be WAY longer than I had originally thought. I want to do Aidan's pregnancy story justice, so I think it's going to become an opus instead of just a posting or two. Will continue more later.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Already falling behind as a blogger

I know I promised to write the rest of Aidan's story on here...well the rest of his pregnancy story, and I have so far not done that. It's just that it's so long and complicated and mostly sad. As much as I want to remember him, his pregnancy wasn't easy. It was stressful and complicated, and we had so little good news. There was maybe a month total where I really believed we might bring him home.

What really makes me sad is thinking how short our time with him was. I thought tonight as I watched one of 'my shows' that Aidan was a living being for less time than a TV show season lasts. The particular show I was watching started last September-ish and will probably be finishing up in a few weeks...and Aidan's life was shorter. It doesn't seem fair that he didn't get as much 'air' time as a crummy TV series.

On a nicer note, I ordered really nice photo cards tonight from a 'build your own card' website. It was something I was looking forward to doing when I thought we would get to bring Aidan home. I love crafty computer stuff like that. I did a lot of it for our wedding. However, it became quickly apparent there are no 'dead' baby annoucements out there. All the templates I had to work with were regarding living babies. Perhaps it's not the first thing you would think of for a bereaved parent, but having a beautiful baby annoucement is something that really helps. It shows how much we love Aidan and how much a part of our lives he was going to be. It also keeps him in people's thoughts and gives them a picture to remember him by.

I'm amazed at how much I don't want people to forget about him. I know he wasn't a 'present' being for so many, also because I kept it that way. I didn't tell many people that I was pregnant for fear that something would go wrong. I was afraid of having my loss hurt other people, and I was afraid that having to tell them about a loss would hurt me more. I guess I also didn't want the 'YEAH, you're having a baby' excitement tossed at me, because I was so afraid the whole time. It was hard to get excited with how scared I was that I would lose him. A lot of people I know found out about him only after he died. Because of this, I want to celebrate him all the more. He didn't get that while he was I need to do it now for him.

I hope next time that I'm pregnant (please let there be a next time), that I will be able to enjoy the moment more and not worry so much. I hope that Aidan has helped me to worry less. There is so much in this life that I can't change, and no amount of worry or fear will make that any different. They say losing your child is the worst thing that can ever happen to you...and if that's true, I'm surviving it. There is nothing left to fear.

Funeral Home (Take 2)

Aidan is now home. Sitting on my shelf.

Bringing my first baby boy home in a wooden box wrapped in a cloth bag was really sad.

For the short while that we were preparing to bring home a living baby, we had a nice car seat picked out. It's sort of fitting that the car seat cost about the same as the urn.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Funeral Home

Brian and I went last night to pick up Aidan's ashes from the funeral home. We had ordered a small wooden block urn with the following engraved on it:
Aidan William
Born and Died
April 21st 2010
"Baby of Mine"
We had also ordered a silver tear-drop pendant with some of his ashes in it. The necklace was fine, however the urn HAD HIS NAME SPELT WRONG!!! They spelled it Aiden rather than Aidan. The funeral director was very apologetic, but seriously...
I feel like writing them and saying "Dear Simple Alternative Funeral Home...thanks for making my already crummy existence just a little bit worse".

Monday, May 3, 2010

How it all went down

I wanted to write out all the details of my pregnancy before they start slipping away. This is going to be a pretty factual account only. I'm better with facts right now. I'm having a hard time being eloquent with my feelings.

April 2009
Despensed with contraception. Yippee...pregnancy sure to come soon.

April-October 2009
Waiting....impatiently I might add. Especially when a bunch of women I know quickly fall pregnant when going off their first try...bully for them.

October-November 2009
Very worried at this point that I might need 'help' getting pregnant. I'd had bloodwork done showing that I have a high prolactin level. Prolactin is what causes 'lactation' which can also screw with your menstrual cycle and can prevent ovulation. I was pretty sure I was ovulating, but my periods were definately not normal and I was now on medication to help bring my prolactin levels down. YEAH...MORE MEDICATION (heavy dose of sarcasm here).

December 3rd 2009
Tested POSITIVE...YIPPEE!!!!!! Due date is August 15th 2010. A very special day because it was my Nana's birthday. It's also the day before my parents 30th wedding anniversary and the week after my husband's 32nd birthday. August sounds like a perfect time to have a baby.

December 5th 2009
Had dinner with our friends...both couples are pregnant. One is about 12 weeks along, the other is about 30 weeks. Brian and I considered telling them...but since I'm 3 weeks and 6 days I'm still nervous. I don't want to get too excited...but who the hell am I kidding, we are totally PUMPED! Looking back on this now, I wished we'd told them. It would have been nice to have had more of the fun, gushy, ooie-gooie baby moments.

December 14th 2009
Started spotting. Oh crap. My heart jumps into my throat. I go tell Brian...and he cries! I've NEVER seen my husband cry...and it is awful. We both sob in our bed...scared that our little miracle pregnancy is over.

December 15th-18th 2009
Go for bloodwork at my doctor's office. Beta Hcg comes back at 1300...not very high for 27 DPO (days past ovulation). Next bloodwork draw on the 17th (29 DPO) is bad's only 1900 and normally Hcg levels should double within 2 days...mine didn't even go up by half. At my doctor's appointment on the 18th she says that "well...maybe you're just bleeding out a twin, or maybe you're off on your dates..." My doctors says she'll send me for an ultrasound next week to see if anything has taken root...but prepares us for the worst. The last words out of her mouth are "I'm sorry". Never what you want to hear from your doctor. We go home and cry.

December 19th-20th 2009
Although we want to sit at home and mope and mourn our embryo we think is lost, instead we go to my family Christmas party. It's nice to see everyone...but we are not in the head space of happy family Christmas. It's hard to watch my cousins with all their children. I wanted this pregnancy SO badly...why did this have to happen? The next day we go out to see a Christmas concert of Handel's Messiah. It is beautiful and I remember some of the songs from my school choir days. It is relaxing to listen to the music. Afterwards we go with my parents to Swiss Chalet for dinner. I'm still spotting at this point and we are pretty sure our ultrasound tomorrow morning is going to show I'm no longer pregnant. My parents are good as always and help distract us, while also being sensitive to our loss.

December 20th 2009
9am: Ultrasound goo gets squirted on my belly. Brian is in the waiting room. They wouldn't let him come in. The tech starts rubbing the wand around and asks how far along I am. I tell her 6 weeks and 1 day. She punches something into the computer and I'm pretty sure she heard me wrong. As she rolls the wand around she says "10 weeks and 1 day?" No, I correct her. She then says the most beautiful thing I have ever heard "oh...that makes sense...there's the heartbeat". WHAT??!!! I almost fall off the table. I can't believe my ears...did she just say there is a heartbeat. Nurse savy me knows that at this point where there is a heartbeat there is life. The tech goes and casually calls Brian in from the waiting room. He pokes his head around the ultrasound tech and she shows him the heart beat. He looks at me, he looks at the screen...I can see he's SO HAPPY and scared to believe it's true. The tech prints us off a picture and says "there, the first picture for the baby book".
Honestly...I can say that was one of the best days of my life. My hopes went from zero to sixty in about 2 seconds flat. I remember writing on my "Due in August 2010" baby message board that "no matter what happens after this, seeing that heartbeat was magical". Even with all that happened after, I'm still so glad I can say that is true. Aidan was a little miracle. I will forever consider that little flickering heartbeat my own Christmas miracle.

Will continue with post tomorrow....