So....I got the job....I start August 9th....6 days before "Baby B. due!" is marked on my calender.
I'm attempting to dredge up some excitement here. I really am.
I really hope I can fake it until I make it.
Keep repeating phrase: be grateful you don't have to go back to the NICU...be grateful you have a job to go back to....be grateful you had this time off to grieve for Aidan and for yourself...must move forward...move forward....move...
So in honour of my attempts to 'feel grateful' I decided to write down what I am grateful for about our time with Aidan. Please be warned...some of these are things that you my fellow readers, did not get to experience. By making a list of the things that I am grateful for, I don't in anyway mean to hurt you or put you down, or make it seem like my experience was 'better'. But today, I just feel I have to catalogue the few remaining scraps that I can call my own.
1. I am grateful he was born alive. I cling to the 54 minutes between the time he left my body, to the time the nurse said she could no longer hear his heartbeat. While he was alive, he made only the barest attempt to gasp according to the nurses who assessed him. We never saw this. My poor son's lungs were like dried up raisins...unable to expand to pull in any air. (Amniotic fluid people...it's important for more than just 'the black' on those cute ultrasound pictures...it's essential for lung development!). Although he was alive, I never saw him move. He never opened his eyes (one was still fused according to his autopsy). He might as well have been born dead...but I love that he wasn't. That he was alive for even just a few minutes is important to me because of the WEEKS of my pregnancy that I spent so worried I was killing him slowly with every move I made. Every bit of blood I passed. Every tiny twinge of my uterus. I kept wondering "is this what finally cuts off your blood flow?" I was so worried since the time we were told my placenta did not look 'right' at 17 weeks that it would slowly starve him to death. I checked every two days for a heartbeat with my doppler, lying on my couch at home. I did this away from my husband so that if I didn't find one he wouldn't have to 'not hear it' too. I was so glad when Dr. K. told us at 21 weeks and 5 days that the blood flow to Aidan was uncompromised and that he was growing appropriately. I remember clearly Dr. K. saying "well he won't die in your body". It provides me so much relief that just ONE thing went right. I had a son. He was born. He lived. He died.
I cannot remember what I said when he was placed on my chest during those few minutes after birth. I was in pain. My blood pressure was low. I hope it was "I love you".
2. I delivered him without assistance or pain meds and my heart didn't give out. This is one very personal to me. Most women worry during pregnancy about the pain of labour. Some even come out of it saying "Oh I was in so much pain...I thought I might die!!" And while I appreciate that...I actually thought I might die. I had been told I would *need* an epidural, I was not to push, things should be very controlled and supervised. Ha. I remember being rushed down the hall to the delivery room from triage and someone yelling at someone else "go and get an RT (respiratory therapist)". My thought "is that for my baby? Or are they worried I'm going to code and need to be resuscitated?" I am SO grateful that my heart didn't give out on me or Aidan. Thanks heart.
3. I am grateful Aidan looked like my husband. This is not because my husband is so good looking I'm glad our child resembled him (although he is)...I'm just glad it was SO obvious that Aidan belonged to US. Some of the babies I have looked after in the NICU don't really resemble their parents all that much (at least not that I can tell), and I must say I have (white) lied on occasion when I fully agreed with a patient's parents, "Yes...your son looks JUST like you! You can totally tell!" Now maybe a stranger looking at Aidan wouldn't be able to tell, and would lie to me and say they could see the resemblance...but I can, and that's all that matters.
4. I am grateful for the one completely beautiful picture we have of Aidan before he started to look dead. It is the one posted above. He looks perfect. You can't even completely tell that he is dead in that photo or really even how small he was. I love looking at that photo. I love that he looks peaceful and content. I worried during my pregnancy that the lack of fluid was deforming him so awfully he wouldn't look normal or even recognizably human. He did have club feet in the end...but even that was kind of darling and barely noticeable. If he hadn't looked 'normal' I would have loved him anyway...but it gives me such pleasure that he was cute!
5. Aidan proved we are fertile. I had fears last year when all the couples we knew got pregnant on the first or second try that "oh my God...is there something wrong with us?" We even had a few medical tests done which pointed in that direction. I was preparing to go to my doctor's to demand a further work up and was counting down the months until we could be referred to a Reproductive Endocrinologist. (You're supposed to wait for a year of trying). It never came to that. Maybe if it had, they would have seen what was wrong with my uterus and could have prevented my first pregnancy ending up the way it did...but maybe not. I know of course we could have 'secondary infertility'. I know it's something we all worry about...but I'm trying just to let go of that. I can't change it or prevent it. If it comes to that, we'll deal with it. So, thanks Aidan for showing mommy and daddy that our reproductive organs aren't a complete let down.
6. I suppose I am perversely glad I had a really rocky pregnancy with him. This one is the most bittersweet for me and the most complicated. I am glad because in the next pregnancy (as always...assuming there is one), if it starts out with better HcG levels and no bleeding by week 5 I will already feel somewhat more hopeful about it. The pregnancies I hear about that are perfect and end in a still birth at 37 + weeks always just make me so sad for that family's next pregnancy...because you know they are going to spend 9 months fearing history will repeat itself. If I could avoid rushing to the ER with dried blood streaks down my leg in my first trimester then hey...that's already an improvement from pregnancy #1. Of course, we all think the SAME bad thing is going to happen to us. The woman who miscarries all previous pregnancies prior to week 8, breathes a sigh of relief when she reaches week 9. The woman whose baby is delivered prior to 24 weeks, celebrates when she passes the viability mark. The family whose full term baby is born still, cries with joy when they hear a wail emerge out of the next. The family whose baby dies of SIDS holds their breathe until the first year is over...praying their child wakes up every morning. I know that something totally new and equally awful could happen to us and our (theoretical) baby # 2...but it gives me some measure of comfort to know that things were abnormal for me very early on in Aidan's pregnancy. So if things initially look okay the (hopefully) next time, there is no reason to think they won't continue that way.
Aidan's pregnancy...well it sucked. It was scary from beginning to end. There was only maybe a few weeks in that whole time where I felt that we might actually get a baby out of it. A part of me grieves this too. As an NICU nurse I knew what could go wrong during a pregnancy. I was not unaware that babies died...but I had hope that maybe, once I was pregnant and things were fine, I might relax...go with the flow. It never happened. And now it never will. I will never be a carefree pregnant woman. I will never reside in the land of "when". I will forever be stuck in "if". But I am grateful that now even that doesn't seem so bad. Yes, I have never and will never be the happy naive pregnant lady, but that's okay. I got Aidan instead.
Can you think of anything, even one teeny tiny thing you are grateful for about your pregnancy or birth or what happened afterward? I know, I know, the baby being dead totally overshadows all the rest...but work with me here people. We're being *positive!* today.