Monday, March 27, 2006

The kindness of strangers

Almost every day, I buy my lunch at the cafe in the dormitory across the street from my office. The man who runs it is one of those friendly, smiley people who will always say hello if he recognizes you. Last year when I was pregnant with Joseph, he always had a kind word for me - he'd ask me how I was feeling, or ask when I was due, or something nice like that.

When I returned to work after being out for a month after Joseph was born, I ran into this man while getting lunch during my first week back. Of course he wanted to know how the baby I had to tell him. (I didn't get into it, I just said, "He was born May 26, but we lost him.") You could tell that he felt terrible; he told me that he was one of six children, and that he was born after his parents lost their first child at birth.

Today it's actually getting pretty warm here, so I didn't wear my coat when I went over to get lunch. The coat does a pretty good job of hiding the bump, but without it, you can see how big I'm really getting. So when I went to pay for my lunch, this same man was working the register, and he noticed how pregnant I was. And his face just lit up.

"Congratulations!" he said, and when I thanked him, he said softly, "I'm praying for you. Take it easy - I hope everything goes well."

I don't even know this man's name. He doesn't know mine. Knowing that someone who doesn't even know me is thinking about what happened and wishing me the best...that's a good feeling.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Random thoughts

The first thing on my mind today is hope that everything goes well for Julian's Mom and Lorem at their respective doctor visits. My thoughts are with them.

Other things I'm thinking about:

* I'm 23 weeks today and twice this week I had to pull out the full panel pants. FULL PANEL PANTS, people! Last time I wasn't even in demi-panel until 19 weeks. I ended up going with the demis today but I'll tell you, the full panel sure beats hitching up the demis that won't stay put under my belly.

* Current name short list: Alice Virginia, Eleanor [undetermined middle], Susannah Iris. Susannah has been my #1 pick for years before we even got pregnant; it would be to honor my grandmother, Susan. Andy has gone back and forth on it, but currently he likes it so I'm hoping to get to use it (although I really like Alice and Eleanor too).

* The baby's still moving, but it seems like not as much as last week. Of course this has completely freaked me out, but every time I listen with the Doppler, everything sounds fine. Is it normal to have a slow period around now? The doctors told me not to even think about whether the movement is consistent until at least 26 weeks.

* All of a sudden I cannot stop eating.

* Andy was away last night because he had a rehearsal with his band in NYC, so it was just me. I kept teasing him that the cats wouldn't miss him, because they'd be happy to only have to share the bed with one person instead of two (lately they need to sleep with us every night). Well, instead, they completely ignored me all night and this morning. Like I wasn't even there. I guess I know whose pets they REALLY are!

Monday, March 20, 2006

I survived

Well, the dreaded hospital visit is over with. We drove down to my aunt and uncle's on Friday night, slept late on Saturday, and then headed over to the hospital with my aunt and my 16-year-old cousin. It helped that there were a ton of people there - at various points including the two of us, my aunt and cousin; my mother and stepfather; my father and his wife; my stepbrother, his wife and their two daughters; and a college friend of my brother's who looked a little shocked to find the room so full. I think that helped - it would have been really awkward if it had been just us.

The baby was wide awake when we got there - I don't know if I've ever seen a baby so alert and yet so quiet at the same time. She's cute, with black hair and pink cheeks. It was kind of sweet to see my brother hovering over her and changing her diaper, handing her around to be held, taking her picture. He was doing it all because SIL was still in pain and couldn't really get up. They seemed exhausted and very young, but happy.

I had gone in not sure if I would be able to hold her - I haven't held a newborn since before Joseph was born. I couldn't even hold Joseph. But when my mother handed her to me I took her...tears started to well up and I was afraid I would cry in front of the whole room, but I managed not to and I don't think anyone noticed.

We stayed for a few hours and then left for the drive back up to Boston. It was a weight off my mind, so I guess in that sense going made me feel better. The strange thing is that I was sitting there holding this newborn baby girl and yet I still couldn't picture myself holding my own new baby girl. Even being pregnant, even feeling her move at the same time I held her cousin, didn't give me that feeling of "that's going to be me soon." Why not??

Here I am with Emma:

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Well, it's here

This day came so fast.

My SIL had her baby at 1 pm via c-section. I still don't get why her doctor was so insistent on doing a c-section at 38 weeks for the baby's supposed huge size, especially since the baby, who they estimated was already 8 lbs a week and a half ago, was born weighing only 8 lbs 1 oz. Whoops.

Anyway, it was a girl. They named her Emma.

I feel...flat.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


I have been meaning to post for over a week, but it's been so crazy I haven't had the chance. First, though, I'm feeling a lot better.

Last Tuesday I had an appointment with my therapist, and we talked about my increased anxiety and my issues around my brother and SIL's baby coming so soon (c-section is now scheduled for tomorrow at 1 pm). I didn't expect it, but she told me it was OK to feel the way I did, and that it sounded like the best thing for me would be to skip going to the hospital right away; that I had to do the right thing for me and the Pad, and not to worry about expectations of me. That made me feel a lot better. Until I talked to my mother.

She didn't flip out when I told her I didn't think I could go to the hospital. I'll give her credit; she did try her best, really she did. But I know I can't expect anyone who hasn't been through this first hand to really understand, and sure enough, she didn't. She didn't seem to get that the main reason I felt I couldn't go was because I was worried it would make me too sad and anxious - she only focused on the anger I admitted I still felt toward them, and she didn't really believe that I wasn't just planning not to go out of spite. In the end she said that even though she didn't understand my decision, she would try to respect it. The discussion didn't really make me feel much better, though, especially when she said, "You've gotten a lot of support up to now - a lot of people agree that your brother's timing was bad - but I think if you do this, people are going to say 'Enough already, get over it.'" Enough already? Get over it??? Ugh.

A few days later, last Friday, my father called me early in the work day. I hadn't talked to him yet about my decision, but of course it came up, and again, he didn't believe me that it wasn't out of spite. And again, he tried...he really did. And he did a little better than my mother did. When I confessed that I was afraid people would forget Joseph because of my brother's new baby, he said that even though he will love that baby, that it will never be his first grandchild. He said that when people ask him if it's his first, he tells them right away that no, his first grandchild died. That took me aback. It was one of the things I found myself lying awake wondering these last few weeks...whether or not my parents told people this was their first grandchild. I was glad to know that my father doesn't at least.

The bad thing was that by this time I was crying hysterically (thank God I have an office with a door). Some of it was out of frustration that he couldn't understand my hurt and anger (he just would not understand why I might be upset that my brother and SIL chose to TTC a week after Joseph died) and some of it was catharsis, I guess, that came with the knowledge that at least he was trying, and that he wasn't pretending that Joseph didn't exist. By the end of the discussion, I felt like a limp, wrung-out dishrag. There was just no way I could have stayed at work, so I told them I was sick. Then I went to Downtown Crossing and bought a pair of shoes. Then I had lunch with Andy, and then I really did go home. I've never been so tired in my whole life. It was like something inside had just...crumbled, and all I wanted to do was sleep.

I woke up the next day feeling better than I have in a while. I guess I must have been thinking about it while I slept, because the first thing that came into my head was the thought that if I waited to go see this baby, and it became any more of a family drama than it already was, then it was going to be so much worse than if I just sucked it up and spent a few minutes visiting the hospital. I talked to Andy about it and in the end we decided to go. We're leaving on Friday and spending that night with my aunt and uncle, and we'll all go to the hospital on Saturday. This way we don't have to hang around their house (not that I think they'd even want us to) and we can just get it over with.

I don't think my relationship with my brother will ever be quite the same. I can't see myself being as close with him as we once were. I still think it was a shitty thing to do. But I can't have another week like this last one. The anger and the hurt and the anxiety...I just don't have the energy for them. I give up.

But I do feel better. The baby is moving like crazy, particularly today, so I'm less anxious about her in a day-to-day sense. I'd been having a lot of worry about the delivery, about whether a c-section at 39 weeks was really the safest course, about whether her lungs would be OK, etc. I brought a whole list of questions to my doctor today, and it was really helpful. She reiterated that she doesn't think VBAC is a good option for me either physically or psychologically, especially since she believes that the stress of my long labor, particularly my long, non-progressive pushing phase, was what caused Joseph to gasp in so much fluid. She believes VBAC is risky enough, and said that she couldn't let me attempt labor and spend the whole time wondering if my uterus was going to rupture or if labor would stall again and hurt the baby.

Honestly, this is fine with me. I know I'd be a wreck anyway, and I just want to do what's going to get the Pad external as quickly and safely as possible. The doctor also reassured me that waiting until 39 weeks means she won't have to do an amnio to check the baby's lungs, since they'll definitely be mature by then. If I go into labor before the scheduled section date (a possibility, since I went into labor with Joseph at 39 weeks 3 days) then I'll just come in right away and have the operation then. Finally, she said that barring any unforeseen problems, I should be fine to go on and have at least one more child after this, probably even two (we think we want two children besides Joseph, but just in case, it's good to know I could have three).

The baby's heartbeat sounds great, my uterus is right on track, and I'm still on the regular prenatal visit schedule. When I hit 36 weeks and start having weekly appointments, this time I'll have non-stress tests at my 36, 37, and 38-week appointments, just to be sure the baby is safe. I love this doctor and this practice.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Issues R Us

My brother called me yesterday to tell me that, at her 36.5 week checkup on Friday, an ultrasound estimated the baby to already be 8 pounds. She's been measuring ahead for several weeks and they've been keeping an eye on it. After Friday's ultrasound, the doctors decided that they'll let her go to 38 weeks on her own, but if she doesn't go into labor by then, they'll schedule a c-section for March 14, 15, or 17. The doctor wanted the 14th or 15th, but my brother and SIL specifically requested the 17th if possible. It's my grandfather's birthday (my mother's father, who died before we were born) so I guess that's why. Suckups.

So anyway, the baby will be here in less than two weeks. And even though I know it's not about me, I am dreading it. I am starting to realize that somehow I've tied up a lot of my issues about Joseph's death into SIL's pregnancy and now it's all coming to a head. I feel horrible, because so much of it revolves around the "new baby fuss" and that makes it sound like I just want to be the center of attention. But I don't think that's really it - I think it's more that I'm afraid that people will forget Joseph.

For example, I was thinking that I hope their baby isn't a girl, because I want at least ONE thing to be just mine and Andy's. If they have a girl, then ours will be nothing to get excited over. Plus I imagine being pressured to take SIL's hand-me-downs. Bleh. But then I started thinking that if it's a boy, everyone will make that sexist fuss over the "first grandson"--even though it won't be. My mother tries to tell me that Joseph will always be the first grandson, but I don't believe for a minute that that will be true when faced with the reality of a real live baby (especially one born on her father's birthday).

So, sometime in the next two weeks I will be expected to drive down and coo over them and their new baby that was born 9 months after Joseph's death. I can't stop thinking about it. And I had a nightmare about Joseph last night. In this one, I was still pregnant with him, but they'd somehow found the lung problem that would kill him. I was in the hospital and they were going to do a c-section, but they wanted me to go into labor first, and they told me they did not expect him to live afterwards. I was in an L&D room with my mother and there was a giant 3D ultrasound screen type thing in which I could see Joseph perfectly, rolling around in the womb.

It seems as though the further along I get in this pregnancy, the less confident I feel that the Pad is going to make it. All of a sudden all of the unresolved questions about Joseph's death are weighing heavily on me. The doctors never figured out why Joseph gasped in utero and took in so much fluid, and they never figured out why taking in fluid killed him, since he had the routine lung suctioning that all c-section babies get. The "one in a million fluke" thing was good enough for me last July, but it's not good enough for me now. This time I'll be having a section again, at 39 weeks. What if the baby's lungs aren't mature enough? What if the c-section causes some kind of fluid problem, since I read that one benefit of labor is to squeeze the fluid out of the baby's lungs? Would it be better for me to go into labor on my own and then go in for the c-section at an early stage of labor?

I'm not doing so well, all of a sudden.