Monday, April 10, 2017

5 years

This week it will be 5 years since we lost our precious surprise baby.  In a way I can't believe it's been that long, in another way it feels like much longer.  Sadness can sometimes make a single day seem like a week.  And yet during those 5 years my life has also held much joy, which makes that same single day pass in the blink of an eye.  I guess that goes along with being a mother in general - challenge/joy.  Weakness/strength.  Pain/laughter.  Loss/love.

I cry just at the thought of that baby.  My arms sometimes feel so empty despite all I hold dear. Perhaps those that know me, know our family, wonder why we didn't just go ahead and try for another baby if the loss is so great.  Kevin and I have never tried for a baby, and I am so sorry if that hurts anyone reading, as my heart is soft for all those that struggle to conceive.  That just wasn't our particular challenge in this life.  I got pregnant with Bailey at 23 years old, just a few months into taking graduate classes, and only a year into our "5 year plan".  I remember falling in the shower after peeking out at the positive pregnancy test, that I took only because I finally realized hmmm it's been awhile.  I even have a picture of the bruise on my back!  I went then to my doctor that day to take a blood test, not believing.  The nurse called and when I answered she said, "hi Mommy."  By that moment, just hours later, I was already happy at our unexpected turn of events.

Then when Bailey was diagnosed with CF, we didn't know what that meant for our little future family.  My dream was to have 4 children, but how could I knowingly bring another child into this world that has a 25% chance of inheriting both of our CF genes.  And how could I do something like pre-implanation diagnosis, where they filter out the disease carrying embryos and implant only the healthy ones -- that would mean I wouldn't have had Bailey?  I literally cried into baby Bailey's hair as I clutched her to me, wondering if she would ever be a big sister, and would the only baby I ever had possibly have a life of illness and die before me.  My grief during that first year of her life - the grief that what I had thought I had, a healthy baby, was gone...the grief that I felt my fertility and choices were taken from me..the grief that I was living in a pit of fear...was so much.  And yet again - the joy at being this precious girl's mother.  Loss/love.

When Bailey was 15 months old, I found out we were expecting again.  I was saying "I don't know how this happened" so much that my mom said  I needed to stop saying that, I sounded uneducated.  To this day I marvel at how Taylor literally fought her way into our family and it is SO her!!  And I also marvel - and praise with every bit of my being - how God knew best and took that decision from me, so lovingly.

I had always wanted a sister, and finding out we were having another girl made me so happy.  Bailey would be a big sister!  They were exactly 2 years apart (and 4 days!) and right from the first day, Bailey has been a wonderful sister.  I am so very thankful.  Life with Taylor was not always easy (challenge/joy!!) but not for one second was I not grateful beyond words that God had blessed me with these two girls.

Pictures of the girls from April 2012.

In 2012, Bailey was 8 and Taylor 6, we again find out an unexpected blessing was on our way.  When I delivered Taylor by c-section, I had a choice of having my tubes tied.  I agonized over that choice, knowing it's what I "should" do but at 26 years old, I just didn't want to say "never again."  I just couldn't do it.  And finding out we had conceived, I was so thankful I hadn't.  The first waves of shock quickly gave way to joy.  Looking back, right from the start though the pregnancy was not like my others.  I wasn't nauseous at all, whereas with the girls I was sick every day, right up to delivery.  My blood test HCG numbers weren't doubling/tripling as fast - pregnant with Taylor they were so high they had me come in for an internal ultrasound to check for "multiple" babies!!  But in late March we saw that heartbeat, and were fooled into thinking it was just a different kind of pregnancy.  Maybe a boy!  I hadn't tracked my cycle so they guessed that I was not as far along as they thought, and kept checking my numbers, which continued to rise.  But then I started to spot.  And I never spotted with the girls.  When I called to come in and be checked, they tried to talk me out of it, saying that was normal.  But I knew it wasn't.  I knew in my heart, something bad was happening.

In early March when we found out we were pregnant, we quickly decided to sell the house, our small 3 bed 1 1/2 bath.  So during spring break we stayed at my inlaws house while a crew came in and put in hardwood, gutted the kitchen and one bath.  It was a blessing and a curse that I was not in my own home.  My mother in law, a teacher also on spring break, was available to babysit when I went to the doctor for an exam, and then again for an ultrasound.  It was Kevin's birthday.  By then I knew, and I cried the whole way there.  The doctor couldn't find the heartbeat, and that never happened with the girls.  Because our insurance wouldn't pay for an ultrasound at our doctors office we had to go to a different facility, where I knew no one and the young girl giving the ultrasound didn't have an ounce of compassion in her eyes.  I pleaded with her to tell me what she saw, and she just said I had to wait.  I knew I did, I'm not an idiot, but I so desperately wanted her to smile at me like, "everything's fine, they missed hearing the heartbeat but here it is, beating strong."  Maybe that's why her eyes were blank...if she smiled it would have given false hope, if she had pitied me, she would have had a grieving mother on her table instead of a sad but still hopeful one.

Someone came in, I don't even remember if it was a man or woman, and told us there was no heartbeat and the sac was low, so I would miscarry soon.  They recommended a D&C, but I refused.  Honestly, I refused because I thought maybe they were wrong.  Maybe I'd be that fluke case.  Honestly, right up until the due date came and went, I wondered if just maybe a baby was still in there and we'd have our happy ending after all.  Grief messes with your mind.

One of the hardest moments of my life was returning to my in-laws house.  We told my mother in law over the phone but asked her not to tell the girls.  We picked them up, feigning normalcy, and took them to the church nearby that my husband grew up attending.  They have a memorial garden that is very pretty, and there we told them that our baby wasn't going to be with us here, but that we would see that baby in heaven someday.  I cry here at the thought!  My poor girls were so very sad.  Taylor especially took it hard, and still to this day often talks about the baby.

This was a Thursday, and we were at my in-laws through Sunday.  I had horrible cramps and bleeding over those few days, as I laid on the very old mattress in the spare bedroom by myself.  I missed my best friend's baby shower and my heart broke that I couldn't be there to celebrate her pregnancy, all because I was losing my own.  I read the Hunger Games trilogy, as there was no tv in that room and I didn't want to see anyone to be in a room with a tv.  I can't really believe now that I was holed up in that room for days with only books and my thoughts.  My grief.  On Sunday we went back home and after saying "wow" about the new kitchen - that had countertop, cabinetry and appliances all that I didn't even choose thinking we were moving - crawled into my own bed.

Monday Kevin went to work and kids went to school.  And it was that day, April 16th, that the baby left me.  I thought I had been miscarrying earlier as there had been so much blood already.  But I had no idea, and it was very merciful that I was in my house by myself to experience this sacred and painful passing. The pain was so strong and I needed to push, just like birth.  And I knew that was it.  The pain lessened finally and I stayed in the bathroom for way too long, almost as if when I left that room, I was leaving without my baby and I just couldn't do it.  But I did.  And I do.

Things people said - there must have been something wrong with the baby and it was spared a life of pain - / - God works things all together for good, He has a plan - / - maybe the baby had CF...all of these things did nothing to bring me comfort.  Everyone means well - I mean well when I try to bring comfort to someone - but really when there is grief there is little to be said to comfort.  And sometimes it actually makes it worse.  It was what people did that helped me.  My one friend brought groceries and others brought meals.  I remember one meal was brought by a girl from my MOPS group that I wasn't even close to.  No one else was home when she dropped it off, and I had not yet eaten that day.  The cats needed fed but I couldn't even walk downstairs to open a can of cat food.  It was evening, the food was hot and delicious.  So I stood at the counter, eating her casserole out of the container with a fork, and dropped some of the pieces on the floor for the cats.  Bite for me, bite for you Oreo. Bite for you Cocoa.  Bite for you Maela.  Bite for me.  Kevin and the girls came home to what was left of the casserole and that was an evening that I didn't have to worry about how to buck up enough to make something to feed everyone.  Even the cats.

"Thank you God for that chicken noodle casserole, it was so delicious.  Love, Oreo and Cocoa."  
Time went on and we live a life of joy despite that loss.  Our family has a hole in it and there is nothing to repair it.  We live around it.  I think a lot of families live around some kind of hole, and that is just life.  I don't think this was something in God's plan "I'll let you think you're having a baby PSYCH no you're not", I think it is just something that happened that He allowed, for whatever reason.  It just is.  Just like Bailey's CF.  It just is.  That's part of living in a fallen world.  Don't get me wrong - I blamed Him heavily for awhile, for Bailey's CF and for the loss of the baby.  But this is where I am now, and it is where I want to be.  I have to trust Him at His word, that He will redeem all for good.

So this week especially, I grieve, but I also live.  There are softball games, and a class party, and work, and cats, and drama practice, a house to clean and meals to be made.  Today I am delivering a meal to a mom with young boys whose husband is deployed.  Her husband is not there each night to help with bath time and tuck-ins, not there for Netflix and chill, not there to help bring in the groceries or help her get to sleep at night with his arm perfectly around her.   She's living around the hole.

I haven't written in a long time, despite wanting to so much.  My girls are older and I don't want to embarrass them if a schoolmate was to blunder upon my blog God forbid.  But I needed to get this all out, it helps me to keep moving forward.  That's the only direction there is, after all.